|Serving Your Community Like Sergeant York
Alvin C. York, Sergeant Company G, 2d Battalion, 328th Infantry, 82d Division, came from the hills of Pall Mall, Tennessee. Alvin was a lot to handle and was even considered a nuisance in his community until he found religion in 1914. His newly found faith caused him to join the Church of Christ in Christian Union in 1915, where his faith required a strong moral code that forbade violence which would eventually be put to the test.  Even with his three denials for a conscientious objector exemption on June 5, 1917, Alvin York was drafted into the World War.
Many know Sergeant York was one of the most decorated soldiers during the First World War. Most people would not have put much faith into a draftee who tried to get a service exemption. Especially a draftee with only nine months of schooling and a strong religious faith from the hills of Tennessee. However, Sergeant Alvin C. York did set an example for many years to come with his exploits of bravery during the First World War. However, what he did beyond the Meuse-Argonne Offensive showed his dedication to the core Army value of selfless service after the war.
Pall Mall Tennessee did not have much, and Sergeant Yorks's upbringing was hard. Always in constant poverty, Sergeant York had to take many jobs and hunt in the mountains to care for his family. This strong self-reliance and mountain living probably cemented his successful unlikely army career. However, Sergeant York saw a bigger world beyond the hills he grew up in during his service in Europe. Like many veterans, we are drawn to service even when our tour is up. Sergeant York was no different; he wanted his community to benefit and grow beyond the hills. Regrettably, Sergeant York did not take well to fame but understood what it could do for the mountains of Tennessee. Using the publicity from his exploits in the First World War, he was able to found York Agricultural Institute in Jamestown, Tennessee, just beyond his hometown of Pall Mall. This school still operates today, helping Sergeant York's community.
As Union Veterans, we understand hardships many would never be able to fathom. Not only do we know what it is like to serve, but many of us also know what it is like to survive. Survival is not just about war; it is, in fact, the many masks that make us who we are regardless of service branch or situation. Survival could be anything from walking to chow at a FOB while stopping to tie your shoe just missing an incoming projectile. Or survival could be just barely making it through A school to be a successful lifesaving Corpsman. It does not matter how you look at survival; it is what you do with the knowledge afterward that makes the difference.
Sergeant York came from a small community that you probably would never have heard of without his exploits. Many Union Veterans come from similar communities like Sergeant York. Still, you do not need a Medal of Honor to make a difference. Like Sergeant York, the difference you make is showing up in your community. You do not need to start a school or rebuild a city block. You just need to show up at a school or pick up a hammer; others will follow. Making a difference in a community shows an example that you are part of the community, and it starts with you. It never happens overnight; however, it will never happen if no one starts it. Being the first to start anything can be frustrating because you can usually never see the end result or progress immediately. However, you should never let that stop you because if you are doing the right thing, you are constantly making a difference. Even if you were never a US Army Ranger, as a Union Veteran, you can live by their motto "Lead the Way." Surely a Ranger would be proud of our union family leading the way to better our communities so others can benefit from the hardships we faced to carry the honor of having the title Union Veteran.
When a veteran becomes a union member, they and labor are unstoppable.
Written By Johnny Walker for the Union Veterans Council, AFL-CIO
Johnny Walker is a Union Veteran leader and Activist with SMART-TD Local 610. Johnny is the son of a Teamster, a 20 + year union member, and a US Navy Veteran.
|PACT ACT Legislation
Sisters and Brothers,
Last year, the Union Veterans Council, along with our affiliates, played a critical role in the passage of the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act. This legislation ensures any veteran who was exposed to burn pits, toxins, and airborne hazards while deployed will be provided access to VA health care and benefits.
If you're a veteran or have a veteran in your family who was exposed, click HERE to learn more about what benefits you and/or your loved ones are entitled to from the VA.
The PACT Act will bring these changes:
- Expands and extends eligibility for VA health care for Veterans with toxic exposures and Veterans of the Vietnam, Gulf War, and post-9/11 eras
- Adds 20+ more presumptive conditions for burn pits, Agent Orange, and other toxic exposures
- Adds more presumptive-exposure locations for Agent Orange and radiation
- Requires VA to provide a toxic exposure screening to every Veteran enrolled in VA health care
- Helps us improve research, staff education, and treatment related to toxic exposures
If you’re a veteran or survivor, you can file claims now to apply for PACT Act-related benefits.
We remain dedicated to passing legislation like the PACT to ensure that veterans receive all the benefits we earned.
|Urgent Community Resources for Afghan Crisis
Veterans from all generations are processing the news of what is currently unfolding in Afghanistan and could be experiencing a wide range of emotions and feelings right now. From union presidents to first-year apprentices, many of these veterans are our brothers and sisters in the labor movement, and we want to support them during this time of concern.
With more than 1 million working union veterans and countless retirees, the Union Veterans Council wants to ensure that the labor community and our veterans are educated, informed and prepared with the right resources and support to face this moment head-on.
Let’s be clear this will not affect all veterans, but our goal is to be prepared and make sure that any union veteran or family member gets the support they need, even if it is just a check-in.
We have also compiled a list of resources which are accessible to veterans, veterans’ supporters and the general public. Please share widely so that everyone who needs these resources has access to them.
- Veterans Crisis Line: If you are having thoughts of suicide, call 1-800-273-8255, then press 1, or visit their website.
- For emergency mental health care, you can also go directly to your local Veterans Affairs medical center, 24 hours, seven days a week, regardless of your discharge status or enrollment in other VA health care.
- Vet Centers: Discuss how you feel with other veterans in these community-based counseling centers. Approximately 70% of Vet Center staff are veterans. Call 1-877-927-8387 or find one near you.
- VA Mental Health Services Guide: This guide will help you sign up and access mental health services through the VA.
- MakeTheConnection: Information, resources and veteran-to-veteran videos that discuss challenging life events and experiences that raise mental health issues.
- RallyPoint: Talk to other veterans online. Participate in discussions such as: What are your feelings as the Taliban reclaim Afghanistan after 20 years of US involvement?
- Download VA's Self-help Apps: Tools to help deal with common reactions like, stress, sadness and anxiety. You can also track your symptoms over time.
- Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS): Request a peer mentor.
- VA Women Veterans Call Center: Call or text 1-855-829-6636 (Monday-Friday 8 a.m.- 10 p.m. and Saturday, 8 a.m.-6:30 p.m. EST)
- VA Caregiver Support Line: Call 1-855-260-3274 (Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-10 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m.-5 p.m. EST)
- Together We Served: Find your battle buddies through unit pages.
- George W. Bush Institute: Need help or want to talk? Check in, call:1-630-522-4904 or email: email@example.com.
- Elizabeth Dole Foundation Hidden Heroes: Join the community.
- American Red Cross Military Veteran Caregiver Network: Find peer support and mentoring.
- Team Red, White & Blue: They hold hundreds of events weekly. Find a chapter in your area.
- Student Veterans of America: Find a campus chapter to connect with.
- Team Rubicon: Find a local support squad.
Page Last Updated: Sep 244, 2023 (05:19:00)