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November 2019

From the Officers
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Paying Tribute to Our Veterans

This Nov. 11 we'll pause to remember our two nations' veterans and their service to us and to our countries. These brave men and women have led the fight for freedom at home and around the world, and we owe them our deepest gratitude.

But I think we owe them even more.

Our veterans deserve the opportunities that a brotherhood like the IBEW can provide. That's not just first-rate training and jobs; it's also important that we help replace that sense of solidarity and purpose they had in the military.

These men and women already know a thing or two about working with their hands, and they thrive on the kind of teamwork and camaraderie that makes a union worksite tick. The hundreds of thousands of veterans who've been a part of this union over our 128 years have proven they're a perfect fit.

We're already working to make sure veterans have a path into our apprenticeships through our Veterans Electrical Entry Program (VEEP) and through our longtime participation with Helmets to Hardhats and the AFL-CIO's Union Veterans Council.

Late last year, we also began the process of creating an IBEW veterans committee comprised of representatives from each of the 11 districts. Some local unions had already formed committees of their own, and we want to make sure we are prioritizing veterans' issues at the international level as well.

Our veterans committees will be focused on ways to recruit more veterans into our ranks and to recognize their service to each and every one of us. Whether it's organizing the local Veterans Day parade, sending care packages to troops overseas or staffing a job fair booth at a nearby base, I expect these committees will lead the way for their communities' veterans in the years to come.

The Third District recently held its first district-wide veterans committee meeting at Local 81 in Scranton, Pa. I was thrilled to hear 37 locals were represented at that meeting, and I can't wait to see the response across every district as more of you get your committees organized.

During our recent campaign to protect union apprenticeships, which you'll read more about in this month's cover story, I was amazed by how many former servicemembers wrote in to tell us what their IBEW membership has meant to them.

I know the IBEW changed my life, and I'm proud to lead this great brotherhood that has changed so many of yours.

As we grow and evolve into the IBEW of the future, our nations' veterans will play a huge role in helping us achieve the goals we've set for ourselves. I hope we can change a few of their lives as well.


Also: Cooper: We Need Your Help on Pensions Read Cooper's Column

Lonnie R. Stephenson

Lonnie R. Stephenson
International President