State Sens. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane, and Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, today recognized the efforts of Spokane-area employer Haskins Steel for its stellar record of hiring military veterans and guardsmen.
Later this morning the state will award Haskins Steel general manager Craig Dias with the “Hire-A-Vet” Award – the first time the honor has been given since the economic recession started in 2008.
Padden, who will attend today’s ceremony along with representatives of the state Employment Security Department and state Department of Veterans Affairs, is a staunch advocate of the nation’s military men and women and the organizations that support them when they return home. He applauded ESD’s work in highlighting the job needs of returning veterans, and called on more employers to follow Haskins Steel’s lead.
“Our state is honored to host several major military bases and significant installations from all branches of the military, including Spokane County’s own Fairchild Air Force Base. With our military actively engaged in two wars that have lasted for more than a decade, we now have a number of veterans coming home to Washington looking for work,” Padden said. “It is important that we recognize the sacrifices they have made, the skills they have learned, and the needs they now face as they re-enter civilian life.”
Baumgartner, a former diplomat and business consultant who has served as an Economic Affairs Officer with the U.S. State Department in Iraq and works part-time as an economics advisor to the U.S. military, agrees.
“It has been my privilege to work alongside many of the brave men and women who wear our country’s uniforms and to see them perform under tremendously difficult circumstances in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Baumgartner said. “Our returning veterans are some of the most skilled, capable, creative, resourceful and dedicated individuals in our workforce. They have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that they deserve the support of our employers and that they will be a valuable asset to any company lucky enough to have them.”
Baumgartner supported the passage last year of House Bill 1432, which gave Washington employers the legal right to prefer veterans when hiring. Federal and state law both provide preferences for honorably discharged veterans in employment in federal, state, and local government, and since the law’s creation, employers such as Haskins Steel have taken full advantage by hiring large numbers of qualified veterans for open positions. The Spokane business is now an industry leader with veterans comprising almost 16 percent of its workforce.
ESD created the Hire-A-Vet Award in 2006 to call attention to the large number of unemployed veterans in Washington and to recognize companies such as Haskins Steel, which have an excellent track record of hiring veterans and guardsmen and -women.
“During the 2012 legislative session we took time to honor our state’s National Guard with Senate Resolution 8674,” Padden said. “But supporting our troops and veterans means more than just signing my name to a resolution. I believe it means getting active and doing everything we can to make it easier for heroes and their families to transition back into civilian life after they’ve completed their terms of service.
“The Hire-A-Vet program is one small way we can applaud our returning heroes and thank those employers looking out for our veterans.”
Employers who are interested in hiring veterans and veterans who are looking for work should visit their local WorkSource center or call 800-562-2308 for information.