‘Tenacious’ Halifax Member Works to Aid Fellow Veterans

Pete Cool found a good place to land in the IBEW when he retired from the Royal Navy after 17 years of service. Now he wants to ensure that other military veterans have the same experience. Maybe even better.

Cool, a Red Seal electrician and member of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Local 1928, is the First District representative on the IBEW’s Veterans Committee. He’s sent a questionnaire to Canadian veterans who are IBEW members, asking how the Brotherhood can better meet their needs.

Anyone who has not received the survey can go to www.surveymonkey.com/r/GQ7GWW6 to access it. You can also email Cool at ibewveteransd1@gmail.com.

“One of the main objectives is to promote the hiring of veterans in Canada,” said Cool, who was named to the committee in April 2022 and attended the International Convention in Chicago as a delegate. “Another is to support IBEW members who are veterans in their communities in any way we can and help with their well-being.”

Cool has been a Local 1928 member for seven years. He left the Navy as a petty officer 1st class following a career that included stints in the Arabian Sea as the Iraq War began in 2002 and serving with NATO forces.

IBEW leaders in the U.S. and Canada have said veterans usually make excellent members because they’re disciplined and good at finishing tasks and following instructions. Cool agrees.

“I was an electrical technician in the Navy,” said Cool, a native of Halifax who returned home after serving. “I wanted to supplement the skills I learned in my military service and find employment.”

He’s been a Local 1928 steward for several years at the Tufts Cove Generating Station. Business Manager Jim Sponagle said he’s a good fit for the veterans position, showing many of the traits that have made him a good steward, along with a passion for helping those who served the country.

“He’s tenacious,” Sponagle said. “He gives 110%. He’s like a dog with a bone. He never gives up, and that probably comes from his military background. He puts in a lot of time and effort outside working hours to deal with veterans’ issues.”

Cool said he’s met with Canadian representatives from Helmets to Hardhats, which is supported by the building trades, including the IBEW, and aids veterans in the transition from the military to a career in construction.

Building on those efforts is a priority. He also wants to set up a veterans’ committee that is unique to the First District and Canada, where the issues surrounding veterans who are members might be different for IBEW members in the United States.

He said it is important for veterans to fill out the survey. It will provide important data to First District International Vice President Russ Shewchuk and others in the district office that they can use when meeting with public officials.

“If we get this data, it will make it easier for him and his leadership team to make decisions,” Cool said. “The more veterans we can get to respond to it, the better we will be, and it’s also a good opportunity to get us more connected to one another.”

Cool said some veterans have the skills to adjust to the trades quickly. Others require more training, especially if they need the Red Seal designation.

He said any Canadian veteran looking for a career with the IBEW can contact him if they need assistance.

“Any veteran can reach out to me and I will help out and guide them through the training they need to get employment in the electrical industry,” he said.

Shewchuk thanked Cool for his work.

“I’m very proud of this program and want to see the IBEW in Canada be the first choice for veterans looking to transition into a second career in the skilled trades,” Shewchuk said. “We need to continue to provide these opportunities to those who served and ensure we can assist them with additional support that they may require during their transition.”

First District Veterans Committee representative Pete Cool is studying ways to make it easier for Canada’s veterans to follow him into IBEW membership.  Credit: Creative Commons / Flickr user Royal Canadian Navy

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