More than half of all veterans say finding a job was the most challenging aspect of transitioning out of the military, according to a report from Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families.
Fortunately, finding a job after the military is something the students in Camp Lejeune’s Welding Class 23 shouldn’t have to worry about, thanks to the United Association Veterans in Piping (UA VIP) program.
After the students complete the program and transition out of the military, they are guaranteed a civilian job in the pipe trades through a UA-registered apprenticeship at an agreed-upon location.
The UA VIP program is a DoD SkillBridge program for transitioning active-duty service members. It teaches members of the military foundational career skills to make it easier to transition to civilian life after the military.
Over the course of 18 weeks, the students will train alongside an experienced journeyman instructor through a combination of classroom experience and hands-on training.
Though some have never held a welding torch before, they will learn basic welding skills as well as earn industry-recognized certifications that will propel their careers when they later begin their apprenticeship with the UA.
The students can earn certifications in oxy-fuel cutting, SMAW plate welding, SPAW and GTAW pipe welding and SMAW pipe spooling.
Transitioning active-duty service members are invited to apply for the UA VIP program during their last six months of enlistment. Training is available in welding, HVAC and fire sprinkler fitting at select military bases across the country.
A guaranteed job with family health insurance and retirement benefits
Once the students complete the UA VIP program and transition out of the military, they will begin a UA registered apprenticeship program at an agreed-upon location. They typically choose the union and location for the apprenticeship mid-way through their UA VIP training. Some will choose to relocate near their hometowns.
As the students undergo their apprenticeship training, they will earn good union pay while they learn and quickly become eligible for quality healthcare for their family. They will earn a pension and a 401K for their retirement. They will receive raises as they progress through the program.
Once the students complete their apprenticeship training, they will become journeymen and have numerous opportunities for career advancement. Many will work for UA signatory contractors. Some will eventually go on to start their own businesses, work as foremen or superintendents or become UA instructors, perhaps even in the UA VIP program.