One year after the state launched a veterans hiring initiative, veterans are actually filling fewer positions.
Retired Marine Sgt. Gary Little wants to make sure everything on this brand new Buick is working. For four years, HE wasn't.
Little figured his military experience would give him an edge in the job market. In his case it didn't.
"The way they make it sound is you'll get out and people will be beating down your door to basically hire you."
A state initiative launched a year ago was supposed to make it easier. Then-Governor Gregoire strongly encouraged state agencies to hire military veterans. But the state's own numbers appear to be going in the wrong direction.
"Well, I'm saying it's not that bad, and I'm saying we can do more," said Ginny Dale, the state's Acting Human Resource Director, who oversees the program.
"Veterans have a challenge with translating their experience into our requirements and managers have challenges interpreting that experience," explains Dale.
In other words, coming home from war doesn't always mean coming into the right job.
"I got out and, who wants to hire a machine gunner," said Little.
State Senator Steve Hobbs served more than two decades in the army. He knows in war and at home-- talk is cheap.
"Just saying you're going to do something is not enough. What I would like to see is what's their outreach looking like because that's the key, that outreach is the key."
Gary Little says key for him was going back to school to become a mechanic. It's not the state job he hoped for, but he's happy and back in the driver's seat.
Joint Base Lewis-McChord, as well as city and county agencies that serve veterans, are helping to get the word out and resumes polished for any state job openings.
Veterans are a part of Governor Inslee's "Working Washington Agenda" which he outlined on Wednesday. The governor is pushing for a B&O tax break companies that hire vets and preference to Veteran-owned businesses for state purchasing orders.
As for job openings at the state level, Dale expects to see an uptick in the number of veteran hires when their next report comes out in March.
A veteran career day will be held at CenturyLink Field on Friday. Hire America’s Heroes runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.