Young U.S. Military members, courtesy of Think Stock
“The faces, character, and lasting impacts of service of these veterans in King County are as varied as the wars they fought in.” – Jon Hoskins in Status of Veterans and Veterans Services in King County
There are 127,000 current and former duty members of the U.S. Military, Reserves and the National Guard who call King County home. There are more than 17,000 veterans in King County who are living below 200 percent of the federal poverty line. Research from the King County Department of Community and Human Services also reveals that as many as 12,000 King County veterans suffering from PTSD are reluctant to seek treatment and support. King County expects at least 1,000 new veterans annually to be returning to King County from Iraq and Afghanistan, many of whom will face transitional challenges related to employment, housing and/or disabilities.
As 6.6 percent of the total county population is veterans while the overall number of veterans in King County is decreasing, the percentages of female and minority veterans have been increasing since the draft was ended. One quarter of veterans under the age of 55 are veterans of color, which signifies the shift towards an increasingly ethnically diverse military.
About 3/4 of King County veterans live outside of Seattle city limits, and 42.9 percent of all King County veterans live in South King County. The majority of veterans receiving disability compensation live in Kent, Auburn and Federal Way.
Over 60 percent of veterans living below poverty in 2010 were not disabled, and therefore did not have access to VA compensation or other sources of compensation. Employment assistance is one of the most needed resources for all veterans. The national unemployment rate for all Iraq and Iran veterans was 9.7%, which is much higher than the general national unemployment rate.
Shockingly and sadly, more U.S. military members lost their lives to suicide than in combat last year, with an average of 22 veteran suicides per day, which points out the glaring need for increased awareness of PTSD and greater access to mental health care for veterans.
Fortunately, King County residents passed the VHS Levy in 2005. Due to overwhelming voter support the levy has been renewed through the year 2017. This Levy provides up to $6 million annually for supporting veteran resources and services in King County. Income, housing and employment assistance continue to be highly demanded services from the King County Veterans Program, for veterans who are mostly otherwise stable.
“Community based human services for these veteran populations are not only a way of honoring those who have served their country, but are also a critical component in helping them reintegrate successfully into the civilian community upon discharge from the military.” – Jon Hoskins in Status of Veterans and Veterans Services in King County
* All facts and statistics found in: Hoskins, Jon. “Status of Veterans Services in King County.” King County Department of Community and Human Services: Feb. 2013.