King County’s Vets 4 HIRE Program is an internship program for veterans with a purpose to support veterans in making a successful transition to civilian employment. It provides them with valuable hands-on practical experience to increase their competitiveness for King County and other civilian positions. It is available to veterans who reside in King County regardless if they are enrolled in college and places them in workplaces throughout the County. Hiring agencies receive up to $6,250 in wage reimbursement per veteran hired into a six month or longer experience.
The program began in 2012 in response to former President Obama announcing he would be downsizing the military. A motion was put forth in King County Council by Councilmember Reagan Dunn to explore the creation of a type of internship program for veterans to support them in their transition to civilian employment. Funding from the Veterans and Human Services Levy was used to help fund the program, and an 18-month pilot program was launched from 2012 to 2014 that placed 33 veterans in internship positions. Initially called the “HERO” Program, it was redesigned in 2015 and renamed the Vets 4 HIRE Program. Since then the program has placed an additional 48 veterans in internship roles.
“Under the Vets 4 HIRE Program, our performance goal has been to hire 16 veterans each year, and we have successfully met that goal each year,” said Vets 4 HIRE Program Manager Susan Navetski. “Between the HERO pilot program and our current Vets 4 HIRE Program, we have placed a total of 81 veterans at county work sites.”
Out of these 81 individuals, 90% have secured employment or returned to college, including 27 participants who were hired at King County, including Steve Stamper, a graduate of the initial HERO Pilot Program.
“I had never worked in local government; I didn’t know much about it but was interested in it,” he said. “I thought this would be a good opportunity to see what it was all about and see if it was a good fit for me.”
A former Field Artillery Officer with the U.S. Army, the program continued to help him in his transition from military to civilian life. After his initial internship, he was hired as a temporary employee before becoming a full time Performance and Strategy Analyst with the Executive’s Office of Performance, Strategy and Budget (PSB).
“I got used to how the office atmosphere is in the civilian world, how people communicate – it’s very different from the military way – and it was enough time to get exposure to that and do some networking and hopefully find another opportunity,” he adds.
With the recent approval of the Veterans, Seniors and Human Services Levy, funding is now available in 2018 and beyond, to create 16 more internship positions each year, ensuring that the Vets 4 HIRE program will continue to provide experiences and opportunities for veterans to live productive and meaningful lives. If you are interested in creating a Vets 4 HIRE opportunity, please contact your agency’s HR staff or Program Manager Susan Navetski at 206-477-3271 or Susan.Navetski@kingcounty.gov.