Proposed veterans internship program goes to King County Council

April 12, 2012

By Staff

NEW — 8 a.m. April 12, 2012

King County Council members could create a county internship program for veterans, after a council committee endorsed the proposal Tuesday.

Government Accountability, Oversight and Financial Performance Committee members issued a “do-pass” recommendation and sent the proposal to the full council for consideration. The council is due to discuss and act on the issue April 23.

In March, Councilwoman Kathy Lambert and Councilman Reagan Dunn — Issaquah-area representatives on the council — joined Councilman Bob Ferguson to craft the legislation. The measure calls on county government to explore a possible veteran internship program and present the results to the council by Aug. 23.

“Transitioning to civilian life can be smoother and more productive for veterans who can find meaningful work right away,” said Lambert, Law, Justice, Health and Human Services Committee chairwoman. “At the same time, citizens can benefit from the skills, experience and dedication to public service that these veterans bring with them. They have sacrificed for us, and we need to show our appreciation.”

The representatives called on staffers to evaluate existing county employment policies and practices for veterans, explore potential costs to operate the internship program and identify possible funding sources. The legislation also calls for analysis of comparable veteran internship efforts. Los Angeles and San Diego operate similar programs.

“The unemployment rate for our returning heroes from Iraq and Afghanistan has remained much higher than the national average,” Dunn said in a statement. “The veterans internship program will take important steps at the county level to train, place and employ our veterans and help reverse this trend of higher unemployment among returning members of the armed forces. We owe our veterans a great debt for their service and I look forward to seeing this program being fully implemented.”

The transition from military to civilian life is often difficult for veterans. Many veterans gain technical and leadership skills in the military — skills useful in the civilian realm, too — but receive little help to put the skills to use after the transition.

“Providing job opportunities during this tough economy is one of the best ways to honor the service and sacrifice of our veterans,” Ferguson said. “A veterans internship program will benefit veterans by helping translate their knowledge and skills to a civilian work environment, and will benefit King County by developing and empowering a quality workforce.”

(Dunn, a Republican, is running for state attorney general against Ferguson, a Democrat.)

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