Story by Rebecca Band, Photos by John Storey
They come from different branches of the military. They’ve fought in different wars, they’re from different generations and they’ve all had completely different experiences.
But there’s one thing IBEW 1245’s military veterans have in common: even though they are no longer active-duty, they all still utilize the lessons and skills they got from their years in the service. Organization, responsibility, volunteerism and the ability to adapt and overcome new challenges are just some of the attributes they picked up during their military tours of duty that continue to serve them in their daily lives.
Many of these vets credit their military experience as the first step on the path to a fulfilling career and a middle class life. But they also recognize that they’re the fortunate ones, as far too many of their brothers and sisters in arms are being left behind. The number of homeless veterans continues to increase, many are disabled and unable to get the medical attention they need, almost half of all vets have no income and job prospects for them are few and far between.
Last fall, a handful of IBEW 1245 military veterans came together to try and make a change for these underserved vets, and the union’s new Veterans Group was born. The “band of brothers and sisters” decided early on that they wanted to go above and beyond the sorts of things that other vet groups do and work one-on-one with vets to get them the resources and jobs they need and deserve.
Their first order of business was to reach out to other IBEW 1245 members who are veterans, and by any measure they are succeeding. Over 65 veterans have expressed interest in getting involved, and local activities are well underway.
In Eureka, the group’s first official project was a winter clothing drive for homeless vets. With support from across IBEW 1245 they collected more than 500 pounds of clean winter clothes, which they are donating to Veterans for Peace and the Veterans Resource Center of America in Eureka.
In Reno, IBEW 1245 and the United Way are sponsoring a rodeo on June 7 to benefit veterans. In Fresno, members of the Veterans Group are collecting ties and suits for veterans preparing for job interviews. And in Redding, members of the group made presentations at the monthly unit meeting, where a motion was made to contribute $250 to a local veterans organization.
On March 4 the Veterans Group met at Weakley Hall to brainstorm additional ways to help less fortunate vets. They were joined by Kendra Barter from the Veterans Resource Center of America, who provided a number of resources and ideas for helping vets get assistance when and where they need it most.
One of the founding members of the Veterans Group, 1st Sargent Jordan Bean, is an active member of the Army National Guard in Nevada and works at NV Energy in Reno. In his free time, Jordan actively assists National Guard members who have been serving overseas and helps them transition back to their civilian lives.
“I see a lot of kids coming home from war, they don’t have any jobs. But they’re looking…. I just want to be a resource to them,” Jordan said. “If we help even one vet find a job and get the resources they need, then we’re already a success.”
The group spent the afternoon developing an outreach plan to increase local engagement among other IBEW 1245 vets. The meeting concluded with a preview of the group’s new website, which will serve as the central clearinghouse for all things related to the Veterans Group.
“I’m so glad I got involved,” Mike Grandmain, a 24-year IBEW member from the Bella Vista Water District and a newcomer to the Veterans Group, said at the end of the meeting. “The potential for this group is just enormous.”
Learn more and get involved by contacting a member of the Veterans Group. And watch for the unveiling of the group’s website in the near future.
IBEW 1245 Veterans Group
1st Sargent Jordan Bean
Nevada Air National Guard
1SG, US Army (ret)
SSG US Army Signal Corp (ret)
US Army Combat Engineer
City of Lompoc
City of Redding
US Navy Seabees
City of Lompoc
US Army Airborne Infantry
Going the extra mile
Phil Alleman and Mike Grandmain are going the extra mile for the IBEW 1245 Veterans Group.
In the four weeks since they became involved, these two military and union veterans have pushed the new group’s agenda at veteran job fairs, a Veterans’ Collaborative meeting, and the IBEW 1245 unit meeting in Redding. They met with the director of the Redding Veterans Resource Center of America and convinced him to send a representative to the IBEW 1245 Veterans’ Group Steering Committee meeting on March 4 to tell about his group’s work with homeless veterans and veterans seeking jobs.
But Alleman and Grandmain literally went the extra mile on March 4. They left Redding at 6:30 a.m., driving 160 miles to Vacaville to join their fellow IBEW vets in wrapping up the winter clothes drive for Eureka-area vets, and laying plans for a rodeo to benefit veterans in Reno and a “suit and tie” collection to help Fresno-area vets prepare for job interviews.
Call it a day? Not these two. After the meeting, they traveled back to Redding for their IBEW 1245 unit meeting, where they spoke about the work of the Veterans Group. They must have been convincing, because the unit decided unanimously to donate $250 to the Redding Veterans Resource Centers of America, which will be matched by $250 from the local union.
Now call it a day? Not quite.
“The hat was passed among those members present and another $500 was personally donated by the unit members for a total donation of $1,000,” Alleman reported.
Veterans going the extra mile to help veterans.