'It's changed my life': Combat vets praise new program

Source: KOMO News

KOMO TV - Theron Zahn

SEATTLE - It's hard enough surviving on a battlefield. But sometimes getting by back home can feel almost as hard for veterans trying to transition back to civilian life.

One of the most powerful lawmakers in the country was in Seattle on Sunday to highlight a program helping combat veterans start a new life.

National Guard veteran Jason de Leon is one of those who knows first-hand the value of the program.

"The anxiety that I had, that my family shared was great. I didn't know what I was going to do, where I was going to go. What the future held for my family," he says.

De Leon was one of the lucky ones. He retrained to become an electrician by a program aimed at keeping heroes of the unemployment line. He now works at a contractor named Veca in South Seattle.

"It's phenomenal," he says. "It's changed my life, and I'm just so thankful that these programs are out there for veterans."

On Sunday, Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii were there to highlight tax breaks to companies hiring veterans paid for by the Hire Heroes Act sponsored by Cantwell and Sen. Patty Murray.

"These jobs are eligible for a new tax credit that was created under the Hire Heroes Act," says Cantwell.

"The bill that the two angels of Washington, Maria and Patty, have come up with will solve those problems," adds Inouye.

Marine veteran Troy Harris says making the transition with other veterans also makes it easier.

"It's really awesome 'cause you'll walk into a classroom with a bunch of people you don't know, and you're like best friends with them the first day," he says.

Veca says it plans to hire seven more retrained veterans on Monday.