Cooperative News

Double duty

PEC employees use military leave to serve their country

At PEC, we consider the work we do for our membership a community service. And that culture of service extends well beyond the poles and wires, with a military leave policy that encourages our employees to serve their country when they are called to duty.

Picture of PEC employees who also serve in the military
From left to right, Colton Harris, Justin Lundgaard, and Chance Runnels from PEC’s Cedar Park district.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, PEC Lineworker Apprentice Colton Harris was quickly deployed to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio to assist with the distribution of critical personal protective equipment (PPE). In addition to serving his community as a lineworker, Harris is a Specialist in the U.S. Army, and every county in Texas depended on his unit to provide critical medical supplies to protect against the virus. Harris said he doesn’t have plans to stop serving any time soon.

“My original leave date for the military was set for 2024, but considering how well PEC is treating me, I am considering staying in,” Harris explained. “They always support my schedule and the leave policy is a tremendous help. It really does encourage me to keep serving.”

PEC Distribution Operations Technician Justin Lundgaard tells a similar story. Lundgaard is a member of the U.S. Air Force Reserves, and makes full use of PEC’s military leave policy. While many reservists do two weeks of active duty, Lundgaard does about four to six weeks per year. As someone who has served 17 years with the Air Force, his unit is called in frequently for their expertise.

“The benefit at PEC is fantastic, they even allow you to hold your seniority no matter how long you are deployed,” Lundgaard said. “It allows me to continue serving without compromising my career. I plan to stay with the Air Force until I retire at 25 years.”

Texas Army National Guardsman and PEC Lineworker Apprentice Chance Runnels was also deployed in March to help fight the pandemic. In a letter to PEC from Major General Tracy Norris dated June 6, she explained that soldiers and airmen like Runnels had already helped test almost 200,000 Texans for COVID-19, manufactured 18 million masks, distributed thousands of pallets of PPE, disinfected 36 nursing homes, and distributed 54.5 million meals though Texas food banks.

“While all of the above missions are new to our team, our soldiers and airmen, as they always do, have risen to the occasion and accomplished all missions above the expected standard,” Major General Norris’ letter said. “I am ‘Texas Proud’ of our team and I am ‘Texas Grateful’ to you for being supportive of your soldier or airman as they participate in the fight to defeat COVID-19 and protect Texas.”

Other PEC employees who continue to serve in the U.S. military include Regional Inventory Representative Juan Rodriguez and Lineworker Apprentice Clinton Howe. We thank all of these men for their commitment to their communities and their country. Happy Veterans Day from PEC to all those who serve or have served!