Every year on this day, I proudly salute the thousands of CWA member and retiree military veterans and their families for their service and sacrifice. Veterans Day often falls shortly after Election Day, as it has this year. Millions of Americans were able to cast their ballots and participate in this fundamental act of our democracy thanks to our veterans who, through their service to our country, have preserved and protected this freedom.
Unfortunately, attempts to interfere with the integrity of our free and fair elections have been on the rise. Those who seek to disrupt our democracy and divide communities, including corporations and anti-worker politicians, have taken their efforts to a higher level by spreading lies, sabotaging election results, and undermining the trust of our local elected officials. As part of their strategy to consolidate more power among themselves, these same forces have constantly exploited military veterans, service members, and their families. They often use veterans as political props, but too few of them actually care about the issues that impact veterans.
CWA member and retiree military veterans have been at the forefront of fighting back against these forces by actively participating in the movement to build a new political force for social and economic justice. Through the CWA Veterans for Social Change program, CWA has been organizing a broad base of CWA activists who are veterans and active duty service members to build power and strengthen our union by advocating for issues that impact other veterans and working families. Since its launch, the program has been empowering participants to mobilize with other activists to advocate for pro-worker legislation, help deliver key election wins, run for political office and take on other leadership roles, participate in community service and advocacy, and engage in grassroots social justice campaigns.
Just this week, Justin Sparazynski, a member of IUE-CWA Local 84913 and the United States Army National Guard, was on the ballot for a position on the Penn Township Board in St. Joseph County, Ind. Justin is a long-time activist with IUE-CWA’s political program, an Iraq and Afghanistan War veteran, participant in the CWA Veterans for Social Change program, and would have been the only union member on the board. Earlier this year, another participant of the program, Keturah Johnson, a combat veteran from Piedmont Airlines, was elected as International Vice President of AFA-CWA. These are just a couple of the most notable examples of the great work all of the participants of this program have been engaged in. As an Air Force veteran, I am incredibly proud of their accomplishments and continued activism, as well as the support of our entire CWA family for active service members and veterans. CWA will continue to honor our military veterans and advance more opportunities for veterans within CWA to keep fighting for our freedom and democracy.