Commander Mark Phipbin of the nonprofit organization Disabled American Veterans (DVA) presented IAM Local 4 (District 4) with an award for “dedication and devotion to fellow veterans; serving those who served” to show appreciation for their new and growing partnership.

DVA assists veterans in getting claims processed through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), provides veterans with transportation to VA hospitals and brings counseling and employment resources to veterans.

Local 4 Vice President Bob Chase is a U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force veteran and volunteer staff member for DVA Chapter 26. In September 2021, when Chase found out that Chapter 26 was going to lose its office space, he went to Local 4 President Jeremy Leissner with a proposal to allow DVA to work out of the union hall.

“I felt like it was something we had to do, not just for our members but for the community – this is the way I see our local lodge giving back to the community,” said Leissner.

Now, DVA Chapter 26 conducts its business from the IAM Local 4’s union hall one day of the week and they get the entire building to themselves.

“We represent more than 1,300 members at NAS Patuxent River, Webster Field Annex, Solomon’s Island Annex, and Charlotte Hall Veterans Home,” said Leissner, a U.S. Navy veteran. “Eighty-five to 90% of our members are veterans.”

One Saturday, DVA held a special event to provide assistance only to Local 4 members. Forty-five member-veterans attended.

“The word is getting out now that DVA is using our local lodge. I’ll have veterans come in and ask if DVA is in today. Then we get to talking and tell war stories,” said Leissner. “The word is getting out to the community that the DVA and IAM Local Lodge 4 are working together hand-in-hand to make sure that the veterans in our community are being taken care of.”

Local 4’s leadership is looking forward to growing its partnership with DVA. They are making plans to bring in counselors and medical professionals to talk about PTSD triggers and coping tactics. Both IAM Local 4 and DVA Chapter 26 will have booths at the Saint Mary’s County Festival, and they are joining forces for the Veterans’ Day parade in Leonardtown this November.

“We want to have as many banners and flags and members out there as possible,” said Leissner. “We have a lot of things planned for the future to be a face in the community together.”

“I couldn’t be more proud of Local 4 for opening up the union hall to DVA to work out of. That’s exactly the kind of thing we should be doing as a union,” said IAM Eastern Territory General Vice President David Sullivan. “Supporting veterans has been a theme for Local 4. Because so many members of Local 4 are veterans, I am happy about what this partnership will do for our members, providing them with an incredible resource, but also what this partnership will do for the community.”

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