IAM District 9 recently hosted its 10th annual veteran’s brunch organized by District 9 Business Representative Tracy Gardner in his second time leading the event, which began under retired District 9 Business Representative Mike Lewis.
“I think everybody who was there was extremely appreciative of how far the IAM has moved in the last four years towards supporting veterans, becoming a veteran service organization, conducting veterans classes, and getting our veterans identified,” said Gardner. “It’s a credit to International President Martinez and the focus that he puts on supporting veterans.”
The brunch was delayed in 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but as soon as people could safely gather, Gardner started it back up. Gardner, a U.S. Navy veteran, took on the veterans brunch when Jason Tetidrick, who previously organized the event after Lewis, became District 9’s Assisting Directing Business Representative.
IAM District 9 veterans were invited to attend with guests. Approximately 115 attendees received attendance prizes donated by Guide Dogs of America/Tender Loving Canines, the Machinists Non-Partisan Political League, and local companies.
As in years prior, the brunch opened with the posting of the colors by the Pattonville Fire Protection District, followed by the pledge of allegiance and an invocation prayer led by Chaplain Tom Tedmon from Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis.
Mary Farley, a U.S. Marines Corps veteran from IAM Local 688, and Adam Connelly, a U.S. Army veteran and president of Local 1745, both completed the newly launched IAM Veterans Services class and spoke about the strides the IAM is taking to become an official veterans services organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Fore Honor Foundation founder Andrea Politte delivered the keynote address.
“Our members have always been incredibly passionate about giving veterans the respect and support they deserve for their service to our country,” said IAM Midwest Territory General Vice President Steve Galloway. “I am proud of District 9 for consistently prioritizing military veterans and showing IAM members who served the gratitude we all hold for them.”
IAM Air-Transport Territory Chief of Staff Edison Fraser spoke on behalf of IAM Air Transport Territory General Vice President Richard Johnsen.
The weekend prior to the Veterans Brunch, District 9 hosted its inaugural “BB Gun Shoot” fundraiser, also organized by Gardner. The BB gun shooting competition was grouped into a youth round and a veteran round. Fifty people participated and winners received prizes from Four Brothers Mead, a veteran-owned liquor company, and Browning Arms. Pork cuts and bacon were also awarded.
“We raised $3,000 for Guide Dogs of America/Tender Loving Canines. Next year, after we establish the veteran’s fund, the proceeds will go to that,” said Gardner.