It’s a new day for the 10 students in the Joint Base Lewis-McChord HVACR Class 24.
Class has begun, and students are learning the foundational skills in preparation for their civilian careers, after they transition out of the military.
The United Association Veterans in Piping (UA VIP) program is a Career Skills Program (CSP) for transitioning active-duty service members. It provides core training for students to begin a UA registered apprenticeship after they complete their service commitment to their country.
Over the course of 18 weeks, the students learn alongside an experienced journeyman instructor, learning the basics to inspect, install, repair and maintain heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration systems. The coursework combines classroom instruction with hands-on training.
“The UA VIP program provides a great opportunity to gain training for a career field that is in high demand,” Army Sgt. Jose Esparza said. “The HVACR field pays a living wage. Having the opportunity to join a union right off the bat is amazing.”
The students will earn certifications in electrical, recovery and HVAC refrigeration.
“I was really attracted to the program’s hands-on work,” Army Sgt. Dominique Hardaway said. “My goal is to soak up as much information as possible and become universally certified on a EPA 608 test.”
A direct path to a good paying, civilian career
The UA VIP provides guaranteed job placement to a civilian career after the military.
After the students complete their training and transition out of the military, they will begin a UA registered apprenticeship at an agreed upon location. They will earn as they learn — good union wages with regular pay increases as they progress through the program. They will quickly qualify for healthcare benefits for their family and will earn a pension and a 401K for their retirement.
“The UA VIP will teach me the basics about my new career and how the union works so I am knowledgeable once I get to my Local,” Army Spc. Migel Jimenez said.
Once they become journeymen, the students will have numerous opportunities for advancement. Some may go on to start their own businesses, become foremen or even become UA VIP instructors. Others will continue as journeyman HVACR technicians in a field where job demand remains strong.
Transitioning active-duty service members are eligible to apply to the UA VIP program during their last 18 months of military service. Training takes place in their last few months of enlistment.
UA VIP training is available in welding, HVACR and fire sprinkler fitting at select military bases throughout the country.