Army Cpl. Rory Mierzejewski was a bit nervous when he began the United Association Veterans in Piping (UA VIP) training..
But it turned out to be one of the best decisions he ever made in his life.
“At first, joining the UA VIP program was a scary move to something I had never done before,” Mierzejewski said. “But I’m glad I did. The program gave me a head start on a great career.”
Mierzejewski started out in Fort Carson Welding Class 7 in 2016 when he was still in the military. Over the course of 18 weeks, he trained alongside an experienced journeyman instructor. The training involved both classroom work and hands-on experience. He learned basic welding skills and earned industry recognized certifications that propelled him ahead of his peers.
“I came to my Local Union with a much higher understanding of welding than most other apprentices,” he said.
The UA VIP program is a Career Skills Program (CSP) for transitioning active-duty service members that guarantees job placement in a civilian career. Military members become eligible to apply to the program during their last 18 months of enlistment. Training takes place during their service period. UA VIP training is taught at select military bases all over the country.
A guaranteed path to a career in the pipe trades
Mierzejewski transitioned out of the Army in 2016, joined a UA registered apprenticeship program at Steamfitters' Local 420 in Philadelphia and immediately began working.
During his apprenticeship, he earned good union pay, including annual pay raises as he expanded his knowledge in his trade. He quickly qualified for quality health insurance for his family. He began earning a pension and a 401K for his retirement.
Mierzejewski turned out as a journeyman earlier this year. Today, he’s a member of UA Plumbers Pipefitters Service Technicians Local 322 in New Jersey. He primarily does fab shop work and works at in oil refinery for General Mechanical Contracting, as pictured below.
Mierzejewski would recommend the UA VIP program to anyone looking to transition out of the military into a great civilian career.
“You absolutely won’t regret it,” he said. “It completely changed my life.”