VETERAN’S COMMITTEE – Reaching New Milestones

Rick Passarelli, Director of Veterans Affairs and Workforce Development

Our work with the veterans community continues to get more exciting. I’m pleased to share a few new milestones we’ve achieved over the past several months. The first of which has broad benefits for employers seeking to benefit from veterans’ unparalleled skills and life experiences.

The UWUA is doing its part to provide a pathway for veterans to utilize their soft and hard skills to build and maintain our nation’s gas, electric and water utilities by connecting veterans to family supporting, union jobs. Pictured here is Utility Worker Military Assistance Program training in Chicago, IL.

Making military experience count

Repeatedly, I’ve seen veterans and servicemembers who are hopeful about a new job opportunity discover employers aren’t able to translate their skills into a new career. Many employers end up viewing military experience as an impediment not an advantage — a common dead end that has heartbreaking consequences for the veteran community.

For all of these reasons, it was important for me to participate and help lead an impactful new initiative by the American Legion and the Lumina Foundation. I — along with a broad group of stakeholders — researched and developed a set of recommendations to help colleges and employers study ways we can better translate the hard and soft skills individuals learn in the military into equivalent work experience and even course credits. The result is a new report, The Future of Credentialing of Servicemembers and Veterans: Leveraging Partners, Policies and Resources, which helps educators and employer organizations rethink how veterans can help further their success.

In addition to offering promising solutions, the report spotlights existing model programs and public-private partnerships that benefit veterans today, including UMAP and Skill Bridge. We’re pleased to be spotlighted in the Legion’s report and hope that as a result more veterans have a chance to benefit from this program.

A hand up not a hand out

The report further drives home the maxim we follow every day; veterans need a hand up, not a handout. It’s our hope this work clears the way for many more veterans to navigate into good, family-supporting post-military careers like those offered through the utility sector. Ultimately the findings support efforts to change minds about what life beyond the military can look like. The full findings are available online here.

Thanks to two new employer partnerships, UMAP will extend a “hand up” to even more veterans in southern California and New Jersey. Agreements with SoCal Gas in California and American Water in New Jersey expand UMAP’s national impact and our ability to make a difference connecting veterans to good, family supporting careers in the utility sector.

These agreements build on successful partnerships across the Midwest that have benefited over 700 veterans over the last 10 years. Reach out to me at or check out more information at if you’re interested in hearing more about how UMAP can benefit you, your members or your employer.