Bright Light award: King County Veterans programs

Those who have served in our armed forces can face unique challenges in reintegrating into civilian life. The rest of us have a unique challenge as well: a duty to support our veterans and lift them up.

In King County, some under-the-radar programs are ready to assist veterans in establishing successful post-service lives. The overarching King County Veterans Program quietly assists veterans in three main areas:

  • Finding housing
  • Providing mental health and substance abuse treatment to become clean and stable
  • Finding a steady job

Veterans are offered assistance in overcoming the barriers to their success – barriers within themselves, such as substance abuse, and bureaucratic barriers that keep some from getting the help they need. In addition, voters passed a Veterans & Human Services levy that funds help for some of the more difficult cases, including housing and temporary financial support.

Most intriguingly, King County now has an Incarcerated Veterans Program within the jail in Kent that helps jailed veterans turn their lives around. Councilmember Reagan Dunn, who sponsored the legislation creating the program in 2014, spoke movingly recently of the success stories the program is helping create.

Dunn wrote of a visit to the program earlier this year that he “had the chance to meet with one of its participants who now, thanks to the program, was able to get his life on a better path. Services provided for veterans in King County Jails now include assessment and referral for substance abuse treatment, mental health counseling, transitional housing assistance, and job referral and placement services. All services are provided in a separate, veteran specific pod that helps support participants.”

We do owe a special duty to those who have served us. King County’s veterans programs recognize that duty and are working to help veterans whose lives could use a turnaround and a little hope. For helping our veterans and making our communities safer, King County’s veterans programs are Smarter Government Washington Bright Lights.
-Rob McKenna

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Rob McKenna
Rob served two terms as Washington’s Attorney General, from 2005 to 2013. He successfully argued three cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and negotiated three of the largest consumer financial protection settlements in national history, all involving mortgage lending and servicing. He is a recognized leader in the development of consumer protections on the internet, in data protection and privacy regulation.