Kevin Key: From Navy Deck to Union Rep

This story is part of a larger series introducing you to our Vets of Steel coordinators. Check out our news section for more.

Meet Kevin Key, Navy vet, and Veterans of Steel coordinator for USW District 9.

Kevin's story, a former Navy man turned Union Staff Representative, isn't just about where he's been but who he's become.

His service on the USS Saipan taught him more than just the ropes of being an Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class—it instilled a sense of solidarity that he's carried over to his work with the Steelworkers.

This story is about taking military values to heart and putting them to work for veterans back home.

During his time in the Navy, Kevin earned his stripes and more, collecting awards like some collect stamps. But his real takeaway was the camaraderie, the kind you can't measure in medals. That same spirit is what he found in the USW.

When he talks about the Union, it's like he's describing a military unit. There's a bond there that's familiar, a feeling of being part of something bigger than oneself. 

The little things from his Navy days help him at the USW, like knowing how to stay connected under tough circumstances. He remembers the long stretches without a word home, which now drives him to ensure veterans have a voice in the Union. Today, he strives to keep veterans in the loop and involved.

Kevin's Vets of Steel program role in the district is more than just a job. It's a continuation of his service. 

This program isn't tucked away in some corner of the Union. It's front and center, reaching out to veterans everywhere. Kevin leads the charge, shows up at VA homes, and pushes for laws to help his fellow service members.

It's not just about giving back; it's about standing shoulder to shoulder with those who've shared similar paths.

During a recent interview, Kevin was asked to summarize any of his Vets of Steel Committee work that he was proud of, "We have Locals going to the VA and talking with veterans. We have Locals going to VA nursing homes and bringing food and hosting bingo for them. We are also currently in the middle of passing laws in every state in our district mirroring the New York state law surrounding the posting of pertinent information for Veteran Affairs on the company bulletin boards," he said.

Kevin's story is a call to action for veterans looking for a new way to serve after hanging up their uniforms. It's about finding a new crew in the USW, where the camaraderie of the military finds new life on the shop floor.

For Kevin and many others, the Vets of Steel program is more than just a helping hand—it's a new mission, building on the sense of purpose they forged in the armed forces. His story proves the drive to make a difference doesn't stop—it just changes course.

Click here to learn more about the Veterans of Steel program, or to connect with your district coordinator.

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