Vets Restore: Connecting Veterans to Career and Community

 Vets Restore participants Scott Carlson, Brandon Reddell, Sergio Cruz and David Pelletier, on the steps of the historic Washington Hall, Seattle. © 2013 Maura Schlagel
Vets Restore participants Scott Carlson, Brandon Reddell, Sergio Cruz and David Pelletier, on the steps of the historic Washington Hall, Seattle. © 2013 Maura Schlagel

“Preservation carpentry is not simply a job, it’s a trade and a career,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “Furnished with the tools of the trade, these returning local vets will learn the craft of restoring our regional stock of wooden buildings – anchoring them back home in the stories of our historic places.”

Our Vets Restore participants have just begun a paid, five-week internship at Historic Seattle’s on-going rehabilitation project at Washington Hall in Seattle’s Central District.  Washington Hall, a beloved historic venue where greats including Billie Holiday and Jimi Hendrix once performed, will serve as the ideal job-site for veterans to gain practical, hands-on experience restoring building elements such as original wood windows and doors.

If you haven’t read in our previous posts, Vets Restore is a new initiative that offers training, mentoring, and job placement guidance for local veterans in the building preservation trades.

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

This year’s Vets Restore participants enter the program with construction experience acquired during or prior to their military service.  To boost their skills and employability, they are enrolled in an intensive 18-credit summer course in Residential Remodel and Preservation Carpentry at the state-of-the-art Seattle Central Community College Wood Technology Center.

Primary support for these opportunities comes directly from the King County Veterans and Human Services Levy, passed overwhelmingly by voters in 2011.

The Vets Restore initiative relies on critical contributions from project partners: 

  • 4Culture – providing seed funding, recruiting construction industry mentors, and running a media campaign to reach returning vets.
  • Historic Seattlecontributing hands-on job experiences at significant historic structures around Seattle.
  • King County Veterans’ Program providing case management, tuition navigation support, carpentry tools and gear, transportation assistance, paid internships, and employment guidance.
  • Seattle Central Community Collegeoffering a Certificate of Completion for the new remodel and preservation course at its state-of-the-art Wood Technology Center, with an option to pursue a Certificate in Carpentry or a full AAS degree.

Depending upon outcomes and continuing interest, Vets Restore partners anticipate that the program will repeat and be opened to a larger pool of returning veterans in the coming academic year.

To interview veterans enrolled in the program this summer, please contact Flo Lentz at (206)296-8682.  Additional details can be found at www.vetsrestore.org or the program Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/VetsRestore