b'Becoming an Apprentice Instructor Through the VIP ProgramMichael Parker served down. Keep in mind you are in school four or five for nearly 10 years in both the Army and National Guard, priordays a week, typically 10 hours a day. Youre either to making the decision to transition out of the mili- in class doing class work, or youre out there learn-tary back to civilian life. At the time he found outing how to weld, and they take you through every about the Veterans in Piping (VIP) welding pro- step. The goal at the end of the program is for you gram at Fort Hood, TX, he had been taking collegeto walk away with one or two weld certifications.I saw an opportunity courses, working toward his associate degree.Some folks earn more through testing out. You Michael said, At that time, I wasnt really surelearn a lot from the various people you work with. to expand some of where I was going to go or what I was going to do.He continued, As a transitioning soldier, there Id actually just received custody of my two boys,are a lot of dark times. My advice to a fellow soldierour training courses.and I was single. I was still on active duty, whichtransitioning out would be to find someone you was just not conducive to being a father with littlecan go to and express yourself openly. At the end ofI really enjoyed most outside support at that time. My unit had a deploy- the day, every path I considered didnt compare to ment that was coming up, and they did offer peoplewhat the UA was offering me.of my classes, and to take an early separation and transition out, or toMichael has since become a journeyman pipefit-go ahead and extend and be deployed. I decided itter. He is employed by RM Mechanical and hasthose that I didnt would be best if I went ahead and transitioned out,been steadily employed at Micron Technology, an so I could take care of my boys.American producer of computer memory and dataenjoy as much, IMichael said he saw a flyer for the free VIP pro- storage, including random-access memory, flash gram at the education center located at Fort Hood,memory, and USB flash drives. He has worked in adecided I would work where he was taking his college courses, and it inter- cleanroom environment, which is a controlled envi-ested him. He already had some experience weld- ronment that has a low level of pollutants, such aswith to make them ing. He said, The more I looked into the program,dust, airborne microbes, aerosol particles, and the more appealing it became. After doing some re- chemical vapors and is typically used in manufac- more enjoyable. Im search, soul searching, and careful consideration, Ituring or scientific research. As part of Michaels came to the conclusion that the VIP programtraining, he has continued to earn more weldingcurrently teaching the would give me the best opportunity. Michael ap- certifications, which will make him more employ- UAs Standard forplied and was accepted.able in the future.Once VIPs graduate from the VIP program, theyIn addition to working at Micron, Michael hasExcellence to rst-are placed in the United Association apprenticeshiptaken on the role of UA instructor for his local programtypically in a geographical location thatunion. He works at Micron during the day andyear apprentices. they have selected. Classroom training continues, atheads to the union hall several times a week in the no cost to the VIP graduates themselves, and theyevening to teach the next apprenticeship class. He also experience extensive on-the-job training. Theloves to teach. I saw an opportunity to expand Michael Parkerapprentices learn alongside seasoned journeymensome of our training courses. I really enjoyed most who help them learn about the crafts.of my classes, and those that I didnt enjoy as much, In August 2015, Michael graduated from the UAI decided I would work with to make them more VIP welding program at Fort Hood and began hisenjoyable. Im currently teaching the UAs Standard five-year apprenticeship at Plumbers and Pipefittersfor Excellence to first-year apprentices. I instill in Local 296 in Boise, ID. Originally from Eugene,my classes that it is good to ask questions, and for OR, Michael was excited to call Idaho his home. the most part, my students are very open. The Stan-In describing the program, Michael said, Thedard for Excellence is a tool for every member to program prepares you. It gives you a very short run- understand how we should be behaving, univer-10 opsCAREER'