Addressing the needs of Veterans
I hope everyone enjoyed a relaxing weekend while remembering those who have fallen in service to our country and honoring our veterans and active duty service members.
It's likely you know someone who has served our country, King County alone is home to over 130,000 veterans and active duty personnel of our armed forces. Most of the veterans living in King County have made a successful transition back to civilian life.
Unfortunately, for far too many, when they come back from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, part of the war has come back with them, which at times means being jailed for their actions. On May 13, The County Council gave its unanimous approval to a motion I sponsored to examine what the county can do to assist veterans incarcerated in county facilities in getting the services they need.
Many veterans have developed specific needs stemming from their time on the front lines including serious issues such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD affects all aspects of life and is a serious issue that distresses far too many of our veterans. The County is in a unique position to be able to offer programs during the period of incarceration that can begin to address veterans' needs and help to stop the cycle of incarceration.
King County continues to be proactive in addressing the needs of our returning veterans. For instance, veterans from the recent conflicts have a higher unemployment rate than the general population. Just this past year, King County launched the HERO (Heroes Employment Reintegration Opportunity) Program based on Legislation I sponsored. The HERO program offers veterans paid internships at the County which allows them to gain valuable work experience. Of the first graduating class, seven of the eight graduates were able to secure employment within ninety days of the completion of their internship.
As more and more of our men and women return home from overseas, it's important that we continue to provide them the support they need and deserve.