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Fort Campbell Welding Class 21 students select locations to start careers

fort campbell

The students in Fort Campbell Welding Class 21 have reached the halfway point of their United Association Veterans In Piping (UA VIP) program training, which means it’s time to determine where they will live after transitioning out of the military.

The UA VIP program is a DOD Skillbridge program that provides pipe trades training to active military members during their last six months of service. Graduates receive direct entry into a DOL-approved registered apprenticeship program as well as guaranteed job placement with a signatory contractor of the United Association.

“The UA VIP program stood out to me because it guarantees direct entry into a new career which meant I could get a job to support my family and my newborn,” said Army Pfc. Oscar Fuentes. 

After completing half of the program’s 18-week training program, the students in Welding Class 21 are well on their way to earning industry-recognized welding certifications, including oxy-fuel cutting, SMAW plat welding, SPAW and GTAW pipe welding and SMAW pipe spooling. 

“It’s challenging, but you learn so much from the mistakes you make,” Fuentes said, “and once you correct them, you feel good about it.” 

The class halfway point is also when the students begin working with UA VIP program administrators to identify where they will relocate after graduating and concluding their military service.

When they arrive, they will begin their apprenticeship, start earning good union wages and quickly qualify for healthcare benefits for themselves and their families.  

For example, Fuentes knows that he and his family will not go far from Fort Campbell. He will be joining Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 184 in Paducah, Ky.  

“I am incredibly thankful for the UA VIP program,” Fuentes said. “Once I knew my time in the military was ending, I was starting to get nervous because I was wondering how I was going to be able to support my family. Now I don’t have to worry about that.”

Thanks to the UA VIP program, Fuentes and other fellow Class 21 students will soon become professional welders in the piping industry, where they will install, maintain and repair all types of piping systems. 

Fuentes could not emphasize enough his gratitude for the well-balanced structure of the program and the highly educated journeymen instructors they have leading the class.  

“So again, from my family to yours, thank you for giving me the opportunity to learn from these amazing instructors,” he said.  

If you are currently an active-duty service member in your last six months of training, the UA VIP program could provide fruitful career opportunities to support you and your family. 

 H2: What the UA VIP program can offer you  

Active-duty service members looking for a civilian career after their time in the military are invited to apply to the UA VIP program during their last six months of commitment. Training is available in welding, HVACR and fire suppression at select military bases nationwide. 

Veterans transitioning out of the military can apply to any of the UA VIP locations listed below:  

After completing the UA apprenticeship, UA VIP graduates become journeymen, opening up a wide variety of career paths in the union pipe trades industries. 

“For anyone considering joining the UA VIP program: do it,” Fuentes said. “They have jobs all over the U.S., and if there’s no work around your state, they can send you to a different state where there is work, so there’s always money coming in to support your family.”  

The UA VIP program is here to ensure military members succeed in the transition back into civilian life. Click here to start the application process today.