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Councilmembers call for creation of internship program for veterans


Exploring ways to incorporate technical and leadership skills in to county job pool


Metropolitan King County Councilmembers Reagan Dunn, Bob Ferguson and Kathy Lambert  today introduced a motion calling on King County to explore ways to tap the skills and knowledge of an overlooked group: Veterans.

“A disproportionate unemployment rate exists among veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts,” said Dunn, prime sponsor of the motion. “King County should help to provide our veterans the opportunity to apply the skills they acquired in our nation’s armed forces—skills which would benefit not only King County, but any employer in our region.”

“We owe it to our veterans to honor their service and sacrifice by providing job opportunities when they return home,” said Councilmember Ferguson, sponsor of last year’s successful renewal of the King County Veterans and Human Services Levy. “A veterans internship program will help veterans translate the knowledge and skills they mastered in combat to a civilian work environment, while developing and empowering a quality King County workforce.”

“In addition to technical skills, military veterans bring with them a built-in dedication to public service that can be of great benefit to our county operations and our citizens,” said Lambert, chair of the Council’s Law, Justice, Health and Human Services Committee. “We can honor the sacrifice of these veterans by welcoming them home with meaningful work and opportunities.”

One of the greatest challenges facing veterans returning to civilian life is employment. The unemployment rate for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts has remained consistently higher than the national average. Many veterans return to civilian life with technical and leadership skills gained during their training and deployment that could translate well to civilian governmental jobs—with a little help. Councilmembers Dunn, Ferguson and Lambert want to assist veterans in translating those skills in today’s job market.

The proposed motion calls on the Human Resources Management Division of the Department of Executive Services to explore ways of implementing a veterans internship program and presenting the results of their inquiry to the Council by August 23, 2012.

The report would evaluate existing county employment policies and practices for veterans and make recommendations on the establishment of paid and unpaid veterans internship programs. It would also explore the potential costs to operate the veterans internship program and possible funding sources for the paid veterans internship program. With the cities of San Diego and Los Angeles having similar programs in place, the proposed motion calls for an analysis of comparable veteran internship programs instituted by other governments.

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