By Matt King
Senior Program Director, YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish
Over 125,000 veterans and their families live in King County in Washington State. Like veterans across the United States, many experience challenges in making the transition to civilian life, and especially to civilian employment. These difficulties are especially acute for recent veterans and for women: nationally, veterans who have served since September, 2001 are unemployed at higher rates than non-veterans or older veterans, and the unemployment rate for female vets is higher than it is for males. Our homeless population still includes many Vietnam-era veterans who struggle with mental illness and chemical dependency. And the family members of all these veterans are often affected emotionally and economically by the hardships their loved ones undergo.
The YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish responds with specialized services for veterans and their families designed to help them meet their needs for housing and employment. Our Women and Veterans Minority Outreach Program connects female veterans, veterans of color, and family members to housing, physical and mental health services, and employment assistance. Our Downtown Seattle WorkSource Affiliate provides priority access to job search resources for vets and their families, and a part-time Veterans Employment Specialist provides specialized employment assistance through a partnership with our state Employment Security Department.
In 2011, we provided outreach, housing and employment services for over 600 veterans and family members. Many more used our job search resources at WorkSource Downtown or received individualized services from our WorkSource partner agencies. We’re currently forging a new partnership with King County’s Veterans Program, and will soon create a “Welcome Center” at WorkSource Downtown where a new team of YWCA and County staff members will offer specialized, dedicated employment services for vets. The Welcome Center will help us better serve those who have served their country and their family members.
Returning veterans deserve a warm welcome home, and a helping hand in transferring their military skills to civilian jobs. At the YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish, we’re proud to welcome everyone who has served back to our community!