An innovative aerospace employment training initiative, more trauma and family counseling, and new investments in housing and homelessness would be funded with $6.7 million from the voter-approved Veterans and Human Services Levy, under a proposal from King County Executive Dow Constantine and Councilmember Bob Ferguson.
“On this Memorial Day weekend, we can reaffirm our commitment to our returning veterans by resolving to create the jobs, housing, and services they need to transition home safely and resume their place in our communities,” said Executive Constantine.
“King County voters should feel proud this Memorial Day knowing they help our local veterans find jobs, counseling, and housing in our community,” said Councilmember Ferguson, author and prime sponsor of the Veterans and Human Services Levy. “Veterans can face serious challenges when they return home, and these important investments provide the assistance and support our veterans deserve.”
Savings over the life of the 2006-2011 Veterans and Human Services Levy have created $6.7 million in one-time funds. The funds will be distributed over the next two years through a supplemental appropriation ordinance that the Executive is expected to transmit to the County Council next week and through the upcoming 2013-2014 biennial budget.
The proposal seeks to address three of the biggest struggles faced by local veterans: unemployment, mental health issues, and homelessness. Highlights of the funding proposal will include:
- $2 million for a new Aerospace and Veteran Employment Training Initiative – Levy funding will support a new initiative as part of the King County Aerospace Alliance to help skilled veterans and others train for jobs in the burgeoning aerospace industry.
This two-year program, proposed to begin this September at WorkSource Renton, would help veterans transfer the skills they learned in the military to aerospace industry jobs. It would offer direct training, personalized career assessment, job coaching and financial assistance, as well as potential paid internships.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the unemployment rate for veterans who served on active duty over the past 10 years was 12.1 percent, significantly higher than the overall unemployment rate of 8.1 percent.
- $550,000 for increased Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) treatment and military family counseling – Levy funds currently support a successful partnership with the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs to provide PTSD treatment and counseling. The counseling has reduced symptoms in 95 percent of the veterans served. The additional funding would increase PTSD treatment hours for individuals and families. Funds would also accelerate the launch of a new program one year early to provide vital support to military families before, during, and after the deployment of their loved one.
Of those serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, over 90 percent have been exposed to traumatic, combat-related situations. These experiences correlate to high rates of mental illness; about 20 percent of recently returning military service members report symptoms of mental health disorders, including PTSD and depression.
- $2.3 million for veterans housing capital and services – The plan would invest significantly in housing capital and services in conjunction with the Five Year Plan to End Homelessness Among Veterans, a federal initiativeto strengthen programs that prevent and end homelessness among veterans. The funding could also be used to make modifications to homes to accommodate disabled veterans.
According to the U.S. Census, approximately one in three of the adult homeless population has served in the military. An estimated 144,842 Veterans spent at least one night in an emergency shelter or transitional housing program in one recent year. Moreover, the prevalent rate of unemployment and lack of job opportunities creates increased housing instability for returning veterans.
The balance of $1.85 million in the proposal would fund services and programs for veterans and others in need, including enhanced outreach to women veterans and veterans of color; additional job training and public health services for veterans, and investments to address youth homelessness.
King County voters originally approved the Veterans and Human Services Levy in 2005, and overwhelmingly renewed the levy last August with a nearly 70 percent approval. Half of the levy revenue is dedicated to serving veterans, military personnel, and their families, and half is for other individuals and families in need.
More information on the Veterans and Human Services Levy is available atwww.kingcounty.gov/dchs/levy or by calling Linda Peterson, Community Services Division Director at 206-263-9019.