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Two Renton residents among first graduates of county's HERO program
Returning to civilian life after spending time in the armed forces can be difficult for veterans. One of the biggest challenges is finding a job in a tough economic climate.
King County is assisting veterans making the transition to civilian work through 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 workforce.
"Veterans are a highly skilled and capable group of workers, but it can be difficult to translate their military training into civilian employment," said King County Executive Dow Constantine. "Our HERO Program helps bridge the gap between military and civilian life by giving veterans the tools they need to succeed."
During a ceremony Monday in the King County Council chambers, the first group of graduates from the HERO Program, including two Renton residents, was recognized by Executive Constantine and King County Councilmembers.
Each veteran was also presented with a special coin inscribed with a King County logo and the seals of each branch of the U.S. military. Similar coins are often presented to servicemembers by their unit commanders in recognition of special achievement.
Among those honored today were Corrie Maxwell and Jason Schluter, both of Renton.
Schluter, who is originally from Renton and lives there now is a specialist in the U.S. Army. He served at Kunsan Base in South Korea, McGregor Range in New Mexico, Fort Bliss in Texas and Fort Sill in Oklahoma. Schluter is working with King County Elections.
Maxwell is originally from Yakima, but today calls Renton home. Maxwell was a petty officer third class in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps and has served Served at the Naval Dental Clinic, Naval Air Station Moffett Field, Calif.; the Naval Dental Center in San Diego; and with the 1st Dental Battalion, 1st Force Service Support Group, Camp Pendleton, Calif. Maxwell is applying for the dental hygiene program at Seattle Central Community College for the fall of 2014 and will be working with the Department of Community and Human Services, Community Services Division.
"When I drafted this legislation, I never could have envisioned how successful the Veteran Internship program would be in assisting these heroes make the transition into the civilian workforce," said Councilmember Reagan Dunn, the prime sponsor of the ordinance creating the HERO Program. "We have now all seen first-hand the success of this program and I look forward to its continued growth. I encourage other public and private entities to look into implementing this program in their own organization."
"The first graduates of the HERO Program are a reminder of the experience and skills those who have served our country can provide any employer," said Council Chair Larry Gossett. "Their time with us has allowed us to begin to repay our debt to them by helping these heroes translate those skills into the civilian workforce."
"Our veterans have served our country with honor and I am pleased with the results of the HERO Program," said Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer, who is himself a veteran. "These internships give our veterans meaningful jobs, and will help them develop new skills which will give them an advantage in today's competitive job market."
"It is clear that King County's HERO Program for veterans is a huge success," Council Vice Chair Julia Patterson said. "Through this program, this highly skilled group of veterans is now better positioned to secure long-term employment and continue their transition back to civilian life."
"Congratulations to the graduates of a program that helps our returning veterans successfully compete for jobs," said Council Vice Chair Jane Hague. "It has the potential to be an example for implementation by other public and private entities."
The HERO Program is partially funded through the King County Veterans and Human Services Levy, which was reauthorized by voters in August 2011. The HERO Program is jointly administered by the King County Human Resources Division and the Department of Community and Human Services Veterans Program. The goal of the King County Veterans Program is to connect veterans and their families to health care, housing, education, employment, and other services they need to successfully transition from military service to stable and productive lives in the civilian world.
For more information about the HERO Program, call 206-477-3261 or visit www.kingcounty.gov/jobs. For information about the King County Veterans Program, visit www.kingcounty.gov/veterans.