Garnett Tanner and Wendy Tureaud are among the first group of graduates from King County’s Heroes Employment Reintegration Opportunity (HERO) Program. The program designed to connect veterans and their families to health care, housing, education, employment and other services needed to successfully transition from military service to stable and productive lives in the civilian world offers a six-month paid internship with King County agencies to qualified veterans.
Tanner, a former U.S. Army Sergeant who retired from the Army after 20 years of service in combat support operations as a Human Resource Specialist, worked in the County’s Department of Natural Resources and Parks, Solid Waste Division. While, Tureaud, a former U.S. Army Master Sergeant, worked in the Department of Assets.
Other graduates include: Brian Husmillo, who interned with the Department of Natural Resources and Parks; Bob Lunke, who interned with the Department of Community and Human Services, Community Services Division; Corrie Maxwell, who interned with Department of Community and Human Services, Community Services Division; Jay Parales, who interned with the King County Council; Jason Schluter, who interned with King County Elections; and Steven Stamper, who interned with the Department of Executive Services, Human Resources Division.
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. In addition to the internship, the program offers 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 held Monday in the King County Council chambers, the first group of graduates from the HERO Program was recognized by King County 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.
“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.”
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.
“Many of the skills our servicemembers learned in the military are useful to jobs in King County,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert. “I’m pleased that we are able to match our job needs with servicemembers who fit those jobs. It’s a win-win! Whether they join our team here at King County or decide to pursue a career somewhere else, these HERO Program graduates will make excellent employees.”