Regular commuters along the Southeast Expressway, or Route 93 just outside of Boston, are no doubt familiar with IBEW Local 103’s landmark electronic sign and its regular messages highlighting and honoring various groups, charities, local events and civic activities. One of the more frequent subjects seen on Local 103’s sign over the years has been an honoring of our military Veterans, past and present, with timely reminders of important days of remembrance and honor for those who have served. From marking the birthday each year of the United States Marine Corp to honoring the “greatest generation” on every “D Day” anniversary, from welcoming home individual soldiers to honoring “Gold Star Families,” Local 103 constantly utilizes its highly visible sign to honor our nation’s true heroes.
More important than these public displays of honor, however, is what is going on inside the halls of IBEW, Local 103, when it comes to helping our Veterans. And this is where the rubber really does meet the road.
IBEW, Local 103 has a long history of providing assistance and making services available to Veterans in need. For the past seven years, for one weekend each August the Local 103 parking lot and union hall is transformed into a sea of tents housing vital products and services to assist homeless and in need Veterans from across the Commonwealth. Clothing, shoes, health monitoring, dental services, nutrition and access to state and federal veterans’ services are just a few of the important items made available to Veterans at the annual “Stand Down for Veterans” weekend at IBEW, Local 103.
In addition to the “Stand Down for Veterans” weekend each year, Local 103 has also been an active long time participant in the “Helmets to Hardhats Program,” prioritizing jobs in the building trades for those coming off of their military service Local 103 has also been an integral partner in the renovation of the New England Center and Home for Veterans in Boston, which in 2015 began a significant recapitalization project to create 37 new efficiency apartments for transitioning Veterans and a modernization of service space to enable newer and more varied models of service for Veterans.
While making this commitment to Veterans, IBEW Local 103 Business Manager John Dumas explained, “Veterans are our true, real life heroes. There is nothing more noble or more heroic than signing up to put your life on the line for your fellow man. Nothing we can do can ever adequately repay the courage and selflessness of our Veterans, but we should always be looking for ways to help.”
Over the past two years, Local 103 has taken this commitment to Veterans even further by significantly increasing efforts on behalf of their own members. In 2015, Local 103 initiated a survey of their entire membership to identify all Veterans and family members of Veterans within their ranks. From there, union leaders formed the first ever Local 103 Veterans Committee and opened up regular communications with these identified members, including a new quarterly Veterans Newsletter, with the goal of ensuring that Local 103’s Veterans and family members are aware of and have access to all of the state and federal services available to them. Last year, Local 103 also hosted the first ever Veterans Services Fair at their union hall where over 20 Veterans Service Providers attended to share with and make their services available to members of the building trades who attended.
So, if you are driving in or out of Boston along the Southeast Expressway any time soon, you are likely to see, at some point, IBEW Local 103’s latest public display of honor and recognition for our Veterans. While this will always be important to show support and recognition for the ultimate sacrifices, the work being done inside the Local 103 union hall is truly making a difference for our nation’s heroes on a much more personal level.