By Jennifer Ferrero, communications consultant with Elizabeth Lundberg

Veteran Focus: Air Washington

Bill Noland, veteran coordinator with Air Washington, is excited about helping veterans find their next career. In his role with Air Washington, and a veteran himself, Noland reaches out statewide to community colleges, industry and to our state’s military bases to help spread the word about great paying, available jobs in aerospace and advanced manufacturing.

Noland has seen a lot of airport runways and convention centers over the past couple of years as he travels statewide to colleges and attends many trade shows. The payoff has been the development of relationships with key industry and college staff here in Washington. His job is to share the opportunities for training in the industry and how to get there.

Bill Noland of Air Washington reaching out to colleges regarding veteran transitional programs.

Bill Noland of Air Washington reaching out to colleges regarding veteran transitional programs.

Radiating energy, Noland said, “Veterans have years of experience behind them in machining as well as maintenance. They are a perfect match for employers in our state. My job is to help them find ways to pay for college so they can get through with as little burden as possible.” Through the grant, which started on October 1, 2011 and has been extended through a no-cost extension (based upon money left in reserves) through September 30, 2015, Noland and the rest of the team at Air Washington play a role in helping job seekers and veterans achieve a new career in this field.

Since 2011, Air Washington has trained 478 veterans in the state to go into the following careers:

  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Aircraft Assembly
  • Air-frame and Power plant
  • Composite Materials
  • Avionics and Electronics

The training was conducted at 11 community and technical colleges statewide and many of the colleges also supported apprenticeships through the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee (AJAC).

Additionally, through the work of Air Washington and with leadership by Carol Weigand and meticulous metrics measurement by Rob Reneau, they have increased capacity by 1,000 FTEs (which means full time equivalent instructors), and have provided a sustainable model for the growth of aerospace in Washington.  The Air Washington group out of Spokane will continue to manage the project through September 2015.

According to Noland, “Veterans that have served in our military generally receive an exit package with contingency planning when they are nearing completion of their enlistment or retirement. Air Washington provides an extra cushion for veterans to land in with support from navigators.”

The best news of Air Washington is that not only have veterans (and civilians) been trained and have graduated from the programs; they are getting hired. According to Air Washington staff, about 450 companies have hired trainees that have gone through the Air Washington program.


Watch a video that introduces businesses and veterans to the idea of working in manufacturing in Washington (Featuring Bill Noland of Air WA).

Next up, learn more about Kate’ Lyons-Holestine and Mary Stanton and their role in helping both veterans and non-veterans to navigate new training as a part of the Air Washington team.