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KWA receives award for helping veterans

Korean Women's Association hires vets, helps vets

Brenda Laben of Employment Security Department presents Troy Christensen, the KWA executive director, and Grace Park, the KWA board president, an award from the Yes Vets program for hiring and helping veterans. Photo courtesy of KWA

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From their beginnings 45 years ago, Korean Women's Association has had connections to the military.

In recognition of their ongoing helping hand that today hires military vets and that has had an ongoing dedication to serving those who have served their country, the statewide Yes Vets program recently presented KWA with an award of appreciation.

Robert Jonas, an Employment Security Department business consultant, presented KWA with the award Feb. 23.

"Congratulations to KWA," Jonas said at the award presentation. "Thank you for your continued support."

Last fall, KWA hired Troy Christensen as their new executive director. Christensen served in the Army from 1985 to 1989 and the Washington Army National Guard from 1989 to 1993.

As KWA moves toward a celebration of their 45 years of service, Christensen has been an important cog with their operations.

In addition to hiring veterans, KWA also contracts with the Puget Sound Veterans Administration to provide home care for aging veterans across 11 counties in Washington.

Because of KWA's helping hand, Army vet William Brownfield can still live at home. He's received home care help for five years and his daughter Sheryl Brownfield thinks that help is invaluable. She calls her dad a "trooper."

"He won't give up and refuses to accept the fact that he can't do certain things anymore,"  she said.

With the caretaker's help, Brownfield said her father keeps his independence.

"But the caretaker also explains his limitations in a way that he is willing to accept help from her," Brownfield said.

In addition to helping her father, Brownfield says their KWA caretaker is also an invaluable resource. The caretaker's help doesn't end when she leaves the home.

"She stays in constant contact and makes sure that I know what's going on, because I have power of attorney and attend all his medical appointments," Brownfield said.

When KWA started in 1972, they were led by Korean wives of U.S. servicemen. As they came to a new country, they came together to help them adjust and assimilate.

"That connection to the military has been there from the very beginning," said Anna Izenman,   KWA's communication manager.

While KWA's initial goal was to help Korean wives adjust to a new country, their focus has expanded.

"Now, we help everyone," Izenman said. "That connection to the military has been there from the start."    

The KWA also helps people to improve their lives by meeting their most basic human needs through education, socialization, advocacy and support.

In 2015, the state legislatures created the Yes Vets program that promotes veteran employment statewide.

"Basically, it's purpose is to encourage companies to hire veterans,"  Izenman said. "You get recognition. You get an award you can put on your website that shows you are open and welcoming of veteran applicants."

KWA currently employs 1,200 across 11 counties.

"We're huge," Izenman said. "The majority of that is home care. Quite a few of those are veterans." 

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