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Military Appreciation Month

May is Military Appreciation Month 

By Anne Prince 

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Description automatically generated with low confidenceService. Mission. Country. You likely identified immediately (and correctly) that these three words describe our nation’s veterans. They also succinctly describe a core co-op ethos.  

While veterans are innately motivated to serve, in a similar vein, electric co-ops are guided by foundational principles that put their community first. After all, electric co-ops were founded to bring electricity to rural areas where there was none. In doing so, they powered local economies and helped them to thrive. I believe this close connection to an essential mission is why there are so many veterans in the utility industry and why they are such a great fit for electric co-ops.  

Today’s veterans are highly skilled because everyone who joins the military is either trained in a tech career field or exposed to advanced technology during their years of service. Many veterans have skills in advanced disciplines such as engineering, electronics or mechanics, which are all beneficial for the utility industry. Arkansas Valley Electric (AVECC) is proud to employ 9 veterans, our subsidiary Wave Rural Connect is proud to employ 6 veterans, and we are especially grateful for their contributions to the co-op and to our community.  

Leadership and Teambuilding Skills 

Our veteran colleagues joined the co-op equipped with training in leadership and teamwork. That’s because while on active duty within their units, servicemen work closely together because they know their lives depend on each other’s actions. This fosters a high level of self-discipline, sense of personal responsibility and passion for excellence.  

The utility industry is increasingly complex and undergoing profound transformation. While there is the traditional engineering and vegetation management aspect of the utility industry, it now also encompasses technology, cybersecurity and the electrification of the transportation sector and other areas of the economy. Veterans are adept at responding to changing conditions and learning and adapting to new technologies, which is essential in our evolving industry.  

Mission-oriented Outlook 

Working for an electric co-op is more than a job. There is a clear mission in the work–– to help our consumer-members and the community. When you work so closely with the community, you can’t help but feel a sense of commitment and responsibility to our members. It’s similar to the sense of duty and responsibility that veterans experience in the military. They feel deep, personal responsibility and commitment to their co-op team members and to the members we serve. Veterans are trustworthy, goal oriented, wanting to do right for their co-op and their community. 

May is Military Appreciation Month and at AVECC, we are grateful to have veterans within our ranks and we are proud to serve them and their families within our community. But beyond our gratitude, we demonstrate our deep appreciation through our actions and ongoing commitment to veterans and their families.  

Last month, our co-op was involved in the Run For The Fallen that started in Ozark, Ar. At the national level, electric co-ops support the “Vets Power Us” program, which is aimed at employing and honoring veterans and their families. This effort involves partnering with other electric co-ops across the country along with the Department of Labor, the Department of Defense, the Veterans Administration and others to hire veterans in the energy industry. 

May is Military Appreciation Month, and I hope you’ll join me in recognizing the sacrifices veterans have made to our great country––and the many contributions they continue to make to our wonderful community. Veterans, we salute you! 

Anne Prince writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the national trade association representing more than 900 local electric cooperatives. From growing suburbs to remote farming communities, electric co-ops serve as engines of economic development for 42 million Americans across 56% of the nation’s landscape.

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