News

AND HAPPENINGS WITH VIP

Take a look at some of the newsworthy items for the VIP program.

JBLM Graduates Welding Class 12 and HVAC-R Class 11

Jul 14, 2017 9:03:00 AM

The United Association Veterans in Piping Program proudly announces the graduation of its VIP Program Joint Base Lewis-McChord Welding Class 12 and HVAC-R Class 11 on July 13.

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JBLM Welding Class 12 learns basic pipefitting techniques

May 22, 2017 8:02:00 AM

Members of JBLM Welding Class 12 are starting on a class project to simulate position welding in the field.

Seven weeks into the 18-week accelerated program, Kris McAferty, JBLM VIP Welding lead instructor, feels his students are doing a good job understanding the coursework.

At this stage of the course, they learn to cut and prep pipe and fitting, as well the basic techniques of pipefitting. 

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JBLM member calls VIP Program a ‘Great opportunity’

May 19, 2017 10:18:00 AM

Jeremy Patterson believes the United Association Veterans in Piping Program provides him and his fellow transitioning military members a great opportunity.

Patterson, who is stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, heard about the program by while serving as his battalion’s SFL-TAP coordinator, helping members transition out of the military.

“It’s a great opportunity that can lead to a very rewarding career,” he said.

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VIP Graduate Ryan Hector Featured in St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Apr 4, 2017 4:17:00 PM

Ryan Hector, a 2013 UA VIP graduate from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, served in the United States military for four years, completing tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan, before beginning a career in the pipe trades. 

Now a fourth-year United Association plumbing apprentice, Hector felt compelled to write to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, opposing a senate bill that will hurt union construction workers by eliminating the state’s prevailing wage.

In his op-ed piece, Hector stands up for his brothers and sisters, including fellow veterans who work in the construction industry and educated readers on the potential harm the bill would cause veterans, if it becomes law.

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JBLM Graduates Two Classes

Mar 17, 2017 9:03:00 AM

Members of the welding and HVACR classes at Joint Base Lewis-McChord graduated in mid-February.

Welding Class 11 graduated 10 transitioning service members, including one from the Air Force, Glenn Bloom, and another from the Navy, Patrick Ramsey. The rest of the class was made up of Army service members.

HVACR Class 10 consisted of nine Army service members.

Following graduation, these 19 men and women will leave their military careers and officially begin life as an apprentice.

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The ‘Who, What, Where, When, Why and How’ of the UA VIP Program

Jan 24, 2017 4:53:10 PM

The United Association (UA) Veterans in Piping (VIP) Program is an award-winning program that offers high quality skills training and careers with the UA in the pipe trades industry to active-duty military personnel who are preparing to leave the service.

Learn all about the program and how you can get involved here!

What is the UA VIP Program: The United Association (UA) Veterans in Piping (VIP) Program is an award-winning program that offers high quality skills training and careers with the UA in the pipe trades industry to active-duty military personnel who are preparing to leave the service. The United Association established the program in 2008 as a means of addressing two important issues:

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UA VIP Graduate Shares His Story at Helmets to Hardhats Luncheon

Dec 8, 2016 4:07:46 PM

Akini Celestine, a graduate of the United Associations (UA) Veterans in Piping (VIP) Program and a member of UA Local 1 in New York City, recently spoke at a Helmets to Hardhats Luncheon.  He detailed his decision to apply to the UA VIP Program, his life as a unionized worker, and the less than common path he took to find himself among the men and women of the United States Army.   His speech, in its entirety, is below. 

“My name is Akini Celestine. I am a third-year apprentice at the United Association Plumbers Local 1 and concurrently serve as a sergeant in the Army Reserve. Originally born in the tiny tropical island of Grenada, I moved to the United States at the young age of 19 to pursue a better life.

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Catching up with UA VIP Graduate Akini Celestine

Dec 8, 2016 3:08:00 PM

After three and a half years of active duty with the United States Army, including a twelve-month deployment to Afghanistan to support Operation Enduring Freedom, Akini Celestine entered the United Association (UA) Veterans in Piping (VIP) Program to gain the skills needed for a fulfilling career in the pipe trades.

Celestine graduated from the third welding class at Joint Base Lewis-McChord on February 20th, 2014. Since graduation, he affiliated with UA Local 1 in New York City and is in the third year of his apprenticeship. 

Celestine has received regularly scheduled wage raises and said he’s working hard to gain the certifications needed to continue to be successful throughout his apprenticeship with the United Association.  Reflecting on the UA VIP Program and his career outlook, Celestine says “The opportunities here are phenomenal, and I'm forever grateful to everyone who made this possible.”

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UA VIP Graduate Todd Secor

Nov 4, 2016 9:52:50 AM

Veteran unemployment numbers are consistently higher than that of the general population.  It’s a disappointing thought; after defending our freedom, the men and women of the armed forces may not have a career to come back to, or a paycheck to support themselves or their loved ones.


With the United Association (UA) Veterans in Piping (VIP) Program, transitioning military members prepare to leave the service with sought after skills that can lead to lifelong careers in the increasingly in-demand pipe trades. Through 18-week accelerated courses - provided free of cost on military bases across the country – UA VIP participants earn industry-recognized certifications and direct entry into stable private-sector jobs with good pay and benefits. Department of Defense funds are not required to make this program work; the UA International Training Fund pays for the education and trains the departing service members.

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SPC William Northrop, UA VIP Graduate

Nov 1, 2016 3:27:33 PM

There’s no shortage of success among the graduates of the United Association (UA) Veterans in Piping (VIP) Program.

During the program, transitioning military members prepare to leave the service with sought after skills that can lead to lifelong careers in the increasingly in-demand pipe trades. Through 18-week accelerated courses - provided free of cost on military bases across the country – UA VIP participants earn industry-recognized certifications and direct entry into stable private-sector jobs with good pay and benefits. Department of Defense funds are not required to make this program work; the UA International Training Fund pays for the education and trains the departing service members.

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For Base Commanders

To learn how to promote the program to all those in your command or to learn more about it, click here.

The VIP Program has been a lifesaver for our famil

“The VIP Program has been a lifesaver for our family.”