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Washington State Ferries turning to vets to fill jobs

Washington State Ferries turning to vets to fill jobs

SEATTLE, Wash. - Washington State Ferries is looking to hire people with military experience to deal with a looming worker shortage.

As Veteran's Day approaches, it's welcome news for many vets who have trouble finding work when they return from active duty.

Onboard the MV Tacoma, Coast Guard veteran Jim Burnett helps maintain the boat and care for passengers.

“I always had some aspirations of working for the ferries,” said Burnett.

Seven months ago, it became reality for the Washington native who was member of the United States Coast Guard and United States Coast Guard Reserves.

“The Coast Guard formed a really solid foundation - gave me what I think to be a good solid work ethic,” he said.

It’s just what the Washington State Ferry system is looking for because nearly 80 percent of the senior staff onboard the ferries is eligible for retirement.

“If we are not able to find the right number of people...as we go into the winter in the next few weeks, we won’t have enough people to sail these boats,” said WSF's Ian Sterling.

WSF said they are tackling the challenge head on as they face one of their busiest years yet. The system’s 23 vessels carried at least 25 million people this year alone across Puget Sound.

“I think we need employers that support veterans. They are great workers. They are eager to work. They have a great work ethic. That’s already been established,” said Burnett.

Sterling said veterans are disciplined, hardworking and able to transfer that experience at WSF.

On the deck of the MV Tacoma, it was easy to see the pride and work ethic Burnett has for his job at WSF. On this Veteran's Day, he said he’s grateful for an employer who values his work and dedication.

“We welcome more veterans to apply for WA State Ferries - would love to have them,” he said

There will be a moment of silence followed by a ferry horn on every vessel this Sunday to honor veterans.

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