IBEW Local 494: Volunteers construct free home for local veteran

Local IBEW union members, businesses work with national non-profit organization; home for severely injured West Allis native being built in Eagle

MILWAUKEE, Wis. — Volunteers with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 494 will be in Eagle in the coming weeks to help build a new home free of charge for an area veteran severely injured in Iraq.

Army SPC Jason M. Schulz, who grew up in West Allis, lost both of his legs in November 2007 when the Salvage and Recovery Wrecker he was riding in struck an IED. Jason and his wife, who most recently were living in San Antonio while he continued rehab, are looking forward to living near his family in Wisconsin. The home under construction in Eagle is being built specifically to suit his needs.

The project is coordinated by the national non-profit group Homes for Our Troops. A number of local organizations are contributing materials and manpower to the project. IBEW Local 494 Business Representative Ricardo Gutierrez is helping to organize the local effort, and says Jason’s story moved their union to action.

“Our fellow union members, both retirees and active members, jumped at the chance to take part in this worthwhile project,” Gutierrez said. “A number of our members are veterans themselves and feel a connection to fellow soldiers like Jason, who served and sacrificed with honor.”

Roman Electric Co. of Milwaukee, Best Electric Service of West Allis, and Lappin Electric of Pewaukee are the local contractors spearheading the electrical work for Jason’s home. In addition, Graybar Electric is contributing materials. “Our troops have earned our respect, and this is the least we can do as citizens and businesspeople to show our gratitude,” said Barry Dickinson, commercial/industrial service manager for Roman Electric Co.

Best Electric Service President Edward Prasser noted, “The outpouring of support we are seeing – both the number of volunteers and the level of contributions – is amazing.”

“We’re more than happy to pitch in on this worthwhile project to help make life a little bit easier for Jason and his family,” added Jim Kerwin with Lappin Electric.

This marks just the second home being built in Wisconsin through the Homes for Our Troops program, which organizes the efforts and constructs the homes without cost to the veterans. The first home was completed earlier this year in Sun Prairie for Chuck Isaacson, who was paralyzed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan.

For more information about SPC Jason Schulz and the Homes for Our Troops program, visit http://www.homesforourtroops.org/Schulz. To get involved in the effort, contact IBEW Local 494 Business Representative Ricardo Gutierrez at 414.327.5202 or rick@ibew494.com.