Archives Find of the Month: SEA-VAC

sea-vacThe Seattle Veterans Action Center (SEA-VAC) was established in 1971 to provide readjustment assistance to veterans, especially minority, disadvantaged and disabled Vietnam War veterans. The agency’s work included employment assistance, benefit counseling, and referrals to services. In the early 1970s, the organization wrote a number of public service announcements to air on local radio stations. The spots were aimed both at veterans, to advise them of services available to them, and at the general public, to raise awareness of the needs of veterans in their community.

Many PSA’s were short announcements about things such as how to access GI Bill benefits, upgrade a less-than-honorable discharge, or claim a newly passed Washington State veterans’ bonus. One announced a free daylong party for veterans to be held on the beach at Sand Point Naval Air Station (“Climb out of that hole and join us!”). Other short spots encouraged employers to list their job openings with SEA-VAC, reminding them of all the reasons veterans made good employees.

In 1972, radio station KBLE ran a series of SEA-VAC’s ads featuring one unemployed veteran each day, outlining his job qualifications and experience, and encouraging anyone who had job leads for him to contact SEA-VAC. One example ran, in part,

Three years in the Army and they put you in the unemployment line. That’s the way it’s been for over ten thousand King County Veterans during recent months. That’s the way it is for Vietnam-Era veteran James Leslie Mearns, Jr. During his time in the Army, Jim did solid work as a clerk and as a translator-interpreter in Polish. He’s a skilled typist, speed-writer, and operator of office duplicating machines. But he’s been unemployed for five months now. All Jim is looking for is a chance to earn an honest living… If you know of a job for Jim Mearns, call Seattle Veterans Action Center.

SEA-VAC was not above trying to speak the language of the youth. One PSA began, “Say, veteran: Are you tired of the same old jive? No bread, no gig, getting nowhere fast? Well, get hip to a whole new scene: SEA-VAC.” Another told vets that “there’s heavy stuff going on in Congress and it’s going to mean more bread for you.” But the organization was also blunt about the challenges faced by this generation of veterans, as in a spot that began, “The Vietnam Veteran: It’s different for him. He doesn’t come home to cheering crowds and welcoming parades. He faces instead a silent public turning away from his cries for help.”

 

See other Archives Finds of the Month here:

http://seattle.gov/CityArchives/Exhibits/finds.htm

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http://www.flickr.com/photos/seattlemunicipalarchives/

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http://www.youtube.com/user/SeattleArchives?feature=watch

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