The graduates of Fort Campbell Welding Class 19 stand at the precipice of lucrative and rewarding civilian careers in the pipe trades.
It’s all thanks to the United Association Veterans in Piping (UA VIP) program, a Career Skills Program (CSP) that guarantees transitioning active-duty service members a civilian job after they leave the military.
Once they transition out of the military, the graduates are guaranteed placement in a UA registered apprenticeship program at an agreed-upon location.
For 18 weeks, the graduates trained alongside an experienced journeyman instructor through a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on training. They learned basic skills and many earned industry-recognized certifications in oxy-fuel cutting, SMAW plate welding, SPAW and GTAW pipe welding and SMAW pipe spooling.
“The UA VIP program has most certainly eased my transition out of service,” said Navy Sgt. Dalton Lockhart, who transferred to Fort Campbell from Navy Lodge Whidbey Island to take part in the program. “It has been the easiest and most straightforward process to further my knowledge in eight years of service. It has been a very positive and fun learning environment.”
After completing his UA VIP training and transitioning out of the military, Lockhart hopes to join Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 430 in Tulsa, Okla.
The beginning of a great career
During their apprenticeship training, the Class 19 graduates will earn good union wages while they learn and quickly qualify for quality health insurance for their family. They start earning a pension and a 401K for their retirement. Their pay gradually increases as they progress through the program and expand their skill set.
Once they complete their apprenticeship training, they will become journeymen. They will have numerous opportunities to expand their careers. Some may eventually own their own businesses. Others will go on to become foremen or superintendents. Some may become certified journeyman instructors, perhaps even teaching in the UA VIP program.
Transitioning active-duty service members are invited to apply for the UA VIP program during their last six months of service.
The UA VIP program offers career training in welding, HVACR and fire suppression – learning the basics to install, inspect, repair and maintain fire sprinkler systems. UA VIP training is available at seven military bases across the country.
- Joint Base Lewis-McChord offers training in welding and HVAC.
- Camp Pendleton offers training in welding.
- Fort Carson offers training in welding.
- Fort Hood offers training in welding.
- Camp Lejeune offers training in welding.
- Fort Campbell offers training in welding and fire suppression.
- Naval Station Norfolk offers training in HVAC.
There are currently nine programs operating at seven locations nationwide, serving all branches of the military. Service members stationed at neighboring installations are highly encouraged to apply for the UA VIP program nearest them.