The Electrical Worker online
January 2021

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Serving Our Veterans

In this month's Electrical Worker, you'll read about U.S. Army combat medic Raul Gutierrez, who is currently a first-year apprentice with Kennewick, Wash., Local 112.

Like a lot of service members reaching the end of active duty, Brother Gutierrez was looking for what was next for him. He wanted a career that would pick up where he left off and put him on a path to success.

That's where the IBEW came in.

We recognize the sacrifices that members of our military make for each of us, and President Stephenson and I want to make sure that no veteran comes home without an opportunity for success.

In October, Brother Gutierrez became the first pre-apprentice to graduate from the IBEW-NECA Veterans Electrical Entry Program entirely online. You've read about the program in these pages before. It's a pre-apprenticeship designed specifically for active duty members of the military that teaches them first-year apprentice basics like blueprint reading, safety and electrical code, among other things.

Then, we work with local unions where the veterans want to settle down and help secure direct entry to the apprenticeship program.

So far, the program has been based out of Anchorage, Alaska, Local 1547, working with servicemen and women from nearby Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. But now that it's able to be completed 100% online, we hope it will open the doors to many more women and men who've put so much on the line for their country.

Already, four more service members are enrolled online and hot on Brother Gutierrez's heels, and we hope to offer the program to many more soon. Three classes have already graduated from the in-person program at Local 1547 working with the curriculum developed by our partners at the Electrical Training Alliance, and those veterans are now among your ranks, currently first- or second-year apprentices at local unions all over the U.S.

Whether it's through VEEP or other programs like Helmets to Hardhats or the Union Veterans Council, adding these brave, dedicated men and women to our ranks only strengthens the IBEW, just like the generations of IBEW veterans who served before them.

Like the military, the IBEW is a family. Joining the brotherhood means more than punching a clock every day. It means we look out for one another, we stand with one another when times are tough, and we celebrate together when things go well. That's the power of collective bargaining and of the broader labor movement.

So, as VEEP grows and expands, we look forward to more local unions being able to participate, and we hope more veterans will come to the IBEW for a rewarding career and a new band of brothers and sisters.

Welcome to our new sisters and brothers, and thank you for your service.


Also: Stephenson: Doing Our Part Read Stephenson's Column

Kenneth W. Cooper

Kenneth W. Cooper
International Secretary-Treasurer