Two women are among the 19 Fort Campbell Soldiers who graduated from the United Association’s Veterans in Piping program (UA VIP) on June 2, an important first for the program at the Kentucky base.
Specialist Tanya Peddy, 626th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, joined the program to prepare for a post-Army career because it provided an opportunity for her to continue working with her hands.
“I was pretty excited going into this, to be honest because I mean, who wouldn’t be excited about making stuff with fire,” she joked. “That’s awesome to me. I’d never welded before this class, ever. I just thought it would be really cool and fun.
“I really like working with my hands and being outside,” she said. “I don’t like sitting down a whole lot.”
Sergeant Alyssa Tamayo, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 101st Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 101st Airborne Division said she enjoyed the competition with her male classmates that began when the training started.
“I think the guys were surprised to see us [in the classroom],” she said. “A lot of people think welding is just for men and with us being the first two females at Fort Campbell ever, in the back of my mind I was thinking ‘I have to beat everybody in here.’ I just felt like I had to be perfect.”
The Veterans in Piping program is an 18-week training session where Soldiers receive condensed training in the field of welding. Soldiers in the program spend four 10-hour days per week at the shop. For Soldiers transitioning out of the Army, this program is a chance for them to develop a valuable skill that is in high demand in the civilian workforce.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Tamayo said. “I thought welding was going to be very easy. It turns out, I was totally wrong. It’s really hard, and you are challenged every day, but that’s what I like about this. I will never be bored.”
Both women said they learned a great deal about welding, but they also learned things about themselves that will help them as they transition to become veterans.
Peddy said she and Tamayo have been trying to recruit more women for the program.
“I’m really excited about it, and I am so proud of us,” Peddy said. “I just feel like we really set a high standard for women in this program.”