VETERANS COMMITTEE: Thinking Beyond Veterans Day

Darryl Taylor, UWUA National Executive Board Member-At-Large and Veterans Committee member

As a veteran and union member, I am proud of the time that I gave to our country. I continue to actively work to ensure those who have served are given opportunities. Veterans, thank you for your service to this country and for keeping myself and others safe. We recognize and honor our veterans every November 11 because as Americans we can live and enjoy the freedoms under our constitution because of their service.

Beyond Veterans Day, we must think about how we treat our veterans every day of the year. It’s about making sure they have the care they need and the benefits that they’ve earned when they come home.

There are many organizations veterans should consider reaching out to help their transition back into civilian life and to find the community they might be missing from the military. The VFW was created on June 11, 1899, and was instrumental in the further advancement of burial services for veterans. The American Legion was established March 15, 1919, by American Expeditionary forces still stationed in Europe awaiting passage home from WWI.

Beyond the VFW and American Legion, many veteran service organizations advocate for the well-being of the veterans’ community and will assist with applications, benefits, and appeals.

Veteran Service Officers, or VSOs, are trained and accredited by the Veterans Administration or other recognized organizations to provide assistance to veterans, their dependents, and survivors.

This includes not only applying for federal and state benefits but also providing information on resources related to the following:

  • Compensation and Pension
  • Health Care
  • Education & Training
  • Employment
  • Burial & Survivor
  • Housing
  • Transportation
  • Military Records

Currently, I volunteer as an executive board member for the Black Veterans for Social Justice, a full-service VSO in the New York City community. It’s an organization that does a lot of important work for veterans in the Greater New York City area.

Beyond these organizations supporting veterans, we can’t ignore UWUA’s unique contribution to lowering veteran unemployment rates. I applaud UWUA for the work it’s doing to expand the Utility Workers Military Assistance Program (UMAP). UMAP recruits and trains veterans to work in the utility sector in several locations including the following:

  • Local 18007/Peoples Gas: 31 cohorts, approximately 800 students
  • MSUWC/Consumers Energy: 30 cohorts, 261 students
  • Local 132/SoCal Gas: 13 cohorts, 96 students
  • Since 2014, Power for America has had approximately 1,157 graduates.

The UWUA is doing its part in the community making sure no service member is left behind. The UWUA is providing career opportunities and resources to make sure veterans’ transition from military life to civilian life is seamless. For those who are still serving as Reservists and National Guardsmen, your rights under USERRA will be honored. The UWUA adheres to the slogan, No Soldier Left Behind!