President’s Message – May 2023

Jimmy Black headshot

May Is Military Appreciation Month

Service. Mission. Country. These three words describe our
nation’s veterans. They also represent the core spirit of cooperatives.

Electric co-ops, like veterans, are driven to serve others and put their community first. Electric co-ops—founded to bring electricity to unserved areas—power local economies and help them thrive. I believe this close connection to an essential mission is why veterans are such a great fit for electric co-ops.

Today’s veterans are highly skilled because all military personnel are trained in a tech career field or exposed to advanced technology. Many veterans have engineering, electronics or mechanics skills, which are all beneficial for the utility industry. Gulf Coast Electric Cooperative is proud to employ veterans. We are especially grateful for their contributions to the co-op and our community.

Our veteran colleagues joined the co-op equipped with training in leadership
and teamwork. Service members instinctively work closely together because they know everyone depends on each other’s actions. This fosters self-discipline, a sense of personal responsibility and a passion for excellence.

The utility industry is increasingly complex and constantly changing. The
traditional engineering and construction aspects of electric co-ops include technology, cybersecurity, and the electrification of the transportation sector and
other areas of the economy. Veterans are adept at responding to changing conditions while learning and adapting to new technologies, which is essential in
our evolving industry.

Working for an electric co-op is more than a job. When you work so closely with our consumer-members and the community, you can’t help but feel a sense of commitment and respect. It’s like the sense of duty veterans experience in the military. They feel a deep, personal responsibility and allegiance to their co-op team members and the members we serve. Veterans are trustworthy, goal oriented, and want to do right for their co-op and community.

Throughout the year, we partner with Tyndall Air Force Base to sponsor
events. At the national level, electric co-ops support the Vets Power Us program, aimed at employing and honoring veterans and their families. This effort involves partnering with other electric co-ops across the country and the United States Departments of Labor, Defense and Veterans Affairs, and others to hire veterans in the energy industry.

May is Military Appreciation Month, and GCEC is grateful to have veterans within its ranks. I hope you’ll join me in recognizing the sacrifices veterans have made for our great country—and the many contributions they continue to make for our wonderful community. Veterans, we salute you!