HERO Program works for King County veterans

Thursday, October 4, 2012

New internship initiative provides employment opportunities for service members returning to civilian life

Returning to civilian life after spending time in the armed forces can be difficult for veterans. The obstacles are many: navigating cultural differences between military and civilian life, getting reacquainted with family and friends, and managing the residual physical and psychological effects of combat, not to mention finding a job in a tough economic climate. King County is stepping up to help heroes in uniform with a new veterans internship initiative, called the Heroes Employment Reintegration Opportunity (HERO) Program. The program offers six-month paid internships to qualified veterans, along with support services tailored to men and women re-entering the civilian world.

The HERO Program is open to any military veteran who meets King County Veteran’s Program (KCVP) qualifications. After a competitive selection process, each participant will receive an hourly wage for 30 hours of work per week for six months. To better ensure their success, each intern will be matched to a King County employee who is also a veteran. They will also be provided with a comprehensive support plan, including connections to other community resources for veterans. During and after their six-month stint, HERO participants will receive one-on-one assistance in writing their resume and searching for jobs. They will also get help applying for any King County job openings they qualify for.
“Returning veterans can face serious challenges finding jobs in this tough economy; they shouldn’t,” said Council-member Bob Ferguson, who authored the Veterans and Human Services Levy that is providing funding for the HERO Program. “With this new internship program, veterans will benefit from expanded employment opportunities and training, and it will help our servicemen and women bridge their military training to on-the-job experience in the civilian world.”

King County has about 137,000 veterans, and that number is increasing due to the presence of military installations like Joint Base Lewis McChord (JBLM) in nearby Pierce County. According to the human resources command at JBLM, about 6,000 servicemembers transition out of the base each year. Many of these new veterans stay in the Puget Sound region, so programs are needed to provide civilian reintegration opportunities. 

The first group of interns in the HERO Program are expected to start in January 2013. The program is projected to run through mid-2014, with about a dozen interns participating in each six-month session. Veterans who are interested in participating in the HERO Program can call 206-205-5859. The HERO Program is partially funded through the King County Veterans and Human Services Levy, which was re-authorized by voters in August 2011. More information about the levy here.


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