VETERANS COMMITTEE – Supporting Our Veterans and Allies

Rick Passarelli, Director of Veterans Affairs and Workforce Development

An important message from UWUA officers and the Veterans Committee

When Kabul fell to the Taliban on August 15, under the leadership of its Veterans Committee, the UWUA took swift action to support the hundreds of union members who are U.S. military veterans, active-duty troops, and Afghan allies.

On August 17, the UWUA Director of Veterans Affairs, Rick Passarelli, broadcast a message through all of the union’s communications channels. It read, in part:

“On behalf of the UWUA Officers and the UWUA Veterans Committee we would like to remember all our UWUA military veterans and their families from all eras and all conflicts or wars, especially during this emotional time.

We would like you to know, especially our Afghanistan veterans, that you answered your country’s call to serve and you did so with honor, distinction and courage. We are proud of you for completing your mission and protecting your country.

Please reach out to a battle buddy and check on them, give them your ear to listen and let them know their service to our country was not in vain. We have resources to help and share with others. Please take advantage of this link if needed:

We never leave a fallen brother or sister behind.

Supporting Afghan allies

On August 19, UWUA President Jim Slevin sent a letter to local presidents, E-Board members and employers calling on them to assist the settling of Afghan allies. He wrote, in part:

“United States resettlement offices and affiliates welcome these Afghan families when they arrive in the United States. In support of this new American mission, our union’s Department of Defense partners are asking for help in providing these allies with housing, employment opportunities, and other social services so that they can thrive in their new communities and place their families on solid pathways for new lives in America. In doing so, we seek to honor the service and sacrifices they have rendered our nation at great personal risk to themselves and their loved ones.

Irene Munoz (left) and Eloisa Janneau (right) are two of the hundreds of U.S. veterans who successfully graduated from the Utility Workers Military Assistance Program (UMAP) and are now UWUA members.

“Accordingly, we call on all our friends and allies to stand with us in this mission, by assisting these newest arrivals to America. The UWUA is urging all our signatory Employers / Locals / Executive Board members to play a role in reaching out to this newest of immigrant communities — people who have literally fought to defend our ideals — and to help identify opportunities to assist them in their moment of crisis.

“We are relentless in our interest in protecting the often-unseen people who make our nation great and make no distinction between those whose families have been in America for generations and those who are just arriving. Whether they are fleeing war, economic hardship, human rights persecution or simply seeking a better life for themselves and their families — like generations of immigrants before them — we are committed to assisting all people in finding and living the American Dream.

“As Americans we cannot, we must not, stand idly by if our actions could help to lift one more person, or one more family out of danger and into opportunity. Though a war may end chaotically, or without a perfect outcome, it does not mean that we should ever dishonor those who have valiantly served, whether from our nation or from others. It is our duty as citizens of America, and of the world, to take what actions we can to live up to the national ideals that have been defended by those now in need.

“[We] ask all our Employers / Locals / Executive Board members to explore opportunities where they exist. Hiring, training, sponsoring, or supporting even just a few of these brave individuals or their family members will not only change lives, it will save lives. If you feel your organization is in a position to assist in this effort in any way, please contact our Director of Veterans Affairs and Workforce Development, Richard Passarelli at with any questions or opportunities that you believe may be available.”