Already this year, more than 8,000 service members have transitioned out of the military from Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

That's already more than last year, when some 6,000 transitioned out of JBLM. With 40 percent of transitioning soldiers staying in the region and needing jobs, there's more pressure on the area to absorb veterans into the workforce.

“Already this year more than 8,000 service members have transitioned out of the military through Joint Base Lewis McChord, and 3,200 are already settling mostly in Pierce, Thurston and King Counties,” said Robin Baker, JBLM transition services manager.  “The drawdown of our military, along with emerging impacts to social services and the economy point to the need to support these veterans in gaining employment in the region.”

Good news for transitioning servicemen and women: The Wounded Warrior Project, a veterans service nonprofit dedicated to offering services for wounded veterans, has awarded $49,313 to Tacoma Goodwill's “Operation: GoodJobs” initiative. The money will go toward funding a new service for injured veterans transitioning to civilian employment.

Through the new service, seven trained veterans will mentor 56 wounded warriors, with an overall program goal of placing at least 75 veterans into employment over the next year.

“Working as paraprofessionals on our team, our veteran mentors will create effective contact with their clients through one on one meetings, group peer mentoring, and organized social outings,” said Mike Tassin, Goodwill veterans services manager.

“We will transition them into jobs and help them to meet their goals.”

“Wounded Warrior Project’s support arrives at a critical time for our region,” added Terry Hayes, Tacoma Goodwill CEO.  “With Joint-Base Lewis-McChord in our back yard, we are now seeing more young men and women returning home from the battlefield to face extreme hardship transitioning back into civilian life.  They need assistance with job training, skills building and family support services.  It is absolutely imperative to give each of these veterans what they need to succeed — it is our duty as a nation to support them.”