OPCMIA Veterans

Union Military Veteran Spotlight

One Family’s Tradition and Commitment to Serve Country and Union

By Deanna C. Santo

Robert J. Santo, an active OPCMIA International Representative, is just one in a long-line of family patriarchs that have dedicated their lives to the service of others. Like his father before him and son who followed, Robert’s early adult years were spent as a member of the United States Armed Forces, eventually moving on to establish himself as a career Union member. With over four decades of experience in working to advance the union’s mission, Robert J. still remembers those formidable years spent in the United States Navy.

For the Santo Family, this tradition began with Robert L. Santo, a former Cement Mason (Local 699 South Jersey) and member of the United States Navy (1946-1950). Robert L. spent his years in the Navy as a machinist and was present for the first series of nuclear testing at Bikini Atoll (Operation Crossroads), as part of the support fleet required to complete this operation. Bikini Atoll is situated in the South Pacific, only one of the 23 Marshall Islands ultimately involved in this experimental undertaking.

Robert J. Santo continued this tradition. Like his father, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy (1978-1982), working as an electrician aboard the U.S.S. Independence (CV-62) and U.S.S. McCandless (FF-1084). Between the times spent aboard both of these ships, Robert J. was primarily involved with cruises in the Mediterranean, while shorter deployments brought him to the Black Sea and Caribbean.

Robert B. Santo, a Veteran of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, is the most recent Santo family member to spend time in the military and the union (Local 592). Between 2007-2011, Robert B. underwent rigorous education to become an expert in special tech electronics and served as a paratrooper with the esteemed 82nd Airborne Division, based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The 82nd Airborne is a famous light infantry division known for its premier air assault skills and operations. Its resume boasts a number of notable campaigns and highly decorated soldiers.

The union’s commitment to its Veteran population complements the Santo Family tradition of serving its country – Taking care of those who have bravely taken care of us all. This full-circle approach has provided countless members and their families a secure opportunity to grow and thrive.

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Helmets to Hardhats is a national, nonprofit program that connects National Guard, Reserve, retired and transitioning active-duty military service members with skilled training and quality career opportunities in the construction industry. The program is designed to help military service members successfully transition back into civilian life by offering them the means to secure a quality career in the construction industry.

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