Vets Restore: Ceremony Honors First Group of Graduating Veterans

Sergio Cruz holding graduation level. Photo: © 2013 Brandee Beau
Sergio Cruz holding graduation level. Photo: © 2013 Brandee Beau

Three King County veterans have successfully completed Vets Restore, a pilot program that offers training, paid internships, and career guidance for veterans in the historic building preservation trades.

Graduates were honored at a ceremony and reception on September 17th at the historic Dearborn House in Seattle. US Military veterans Scott Carlson of Issaquah, Sergio Cruz of Seattle, and Brandon Reddell of Renton each received a certificate of completion signed by King County Executive Dow Constantine and a letter of congratulations from United States Congressman Jim McDermott.

“Your service to our country and our community will continue through your work bringing historic buildings back to life. These buildings are part of our shared history and experience, and restoring them connects us to our past in a real and useful way. I extend my best wishes to you, and wish you every success with the valuable skills you have acquired through the Vets Restore program.” Jim McDermott, United States Congress

Vets Restore graduates: Scott Carlson, Brandon Reddell and Sergio Cruz. Photo: © 2013 Brandee Beau
Vets Restore graduates: Scott Carlson, Brandon Reddell and Sergio Cruz. Photo: © 2013 Brandee Beau

Vets Restore is a collaboration of 4Culture, Historic Seattle, the King County Veterans’ Program, and Seattle

Central Community College. The program goals include:

– Helping returning veterans transition to civilian life with work that is meaningful and valued in the community

– Connecting local veterans to jobs in the growing field of building rehabilitation

– Conserving resources by bringing new life to vintage houses, commercial buildings, schools, depots, churches, and halls
Vets Restore participants Carlson, Cruz, and Reddell were enrolled in an intensive 18-credit summer course in Residential Remodel and Preservation Carpentry at the Seattle Central Community College Wood Technology Center. Here they learned the basics of rehabilitating existing structures, and how to bring back the beauty of vintage buildings while ensuring they are safe, functional, and energy efficient.

Training at the Wood Technology Center was followed by a five-week paid internship at Washington Hall, Historic Seattle’s active restoration project in the Central District. Washington Hall, where greats including Billie Holiday and Jimi Hendrix once performed, provided the ideal historic venue for Vets Restore participants to gain practical, hands-on experience in basic carpentry and in the more specialized practice of restoring original wood windows.

Vets Restore “Industry Affiliates” – Bear Wood Windows (Tacoma), and JAS Design-Build (Seattle) – helped prepare participants for the job market with mentoring sessions where company managers shared insights about the field of preservation and high-end remodeling. In addition, veterans received assistance adapting their military resumes for a job search in the construction industry.
The Vets Restore initiative relies on critical contributions from project partners:

  • 4Culture – provided partnership oversight, seed funding for curriculum and instruction, and media outreach.
  • Historic Seattle – orchestrated and hosted five weeks of supervised, on-the-job work training at historic Washington Hall.
  • King County Veterans’ Program – with funding from the King County Veterans and Human Services Levy, provided direct services to veterans, including internship wages, case management, carpentry tools and gear, and employment guidance.
  • Seattle Central Community College – developed and offered a new 18-credit summer course in Residential Remodel and Preservation Carpentry at its state-of-the-art Wood Technology Center.
  • Industry AffiliatesBear Wood Windows and JAS Design-Build  provided group and one-on-one mentoring sessions with veteran participants, and in-house tours

All of the Vets Restore partners are proud of our first graduates!

To interview graduates of the Vets Restore program, please contact Flo Lentz at (206)296-8682 or visit the Vets Restore blog  or our Facebook page.