UNITED ASSOCIATION VETERANS IN PIPING PROGRAM
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UA Veterans in Piping (VIP) By UA Veterans in Piping (VIP) • March 4, 2019

JBLM members prepare to transition from military family to union family

Members of the United Association (UA) Veterans in Piping (VIP) Program Joint Base Lewis-McChord Welding Class 17 recently began their journey to transition from their military family to a union family.

The eight students accepted into the free, career-training program, which started on Feb. 12, have begun to learn basic welding skills and important OSHA safety training.

UA VIP is an 18-week accelerated career program, which is free for active-duty transitioning military service members, who are looking for a satisfying and challenging lifelong career in the piping industry upon their transition back into civilian life.

Army Sergeant Maria Imamura, one of the two women in Class 17, said the first few weeks of the class have been amazing and now have her thinking about her future.

“My experience has been amazing so far and I look forward to transitioning from my Army family to a Union family,” she said.

JBLM Welding Class 17

Imamura is glad she learned about the UA VIP Program through Soldiers for Life - Transition Assistance Program, also known as SFL TAP. Thanks to the SLF TAP and UA VIP, she can begin to focus on the next stage of her life while still enlisted in the Army.

For most members of JBLM Welding Class 17, welding is a new field to which they have no exposure.

“Many students who have entered the program have never been exposed to a welding machine before, so this can be challenging for them,” said UA VIP JBLM Lead Welding Instructor Kris McAferty. “We do have a few who have surprised us and are learning very fast.”

Having an instructor like McAferty can make all the difference though.

“The instructors are incredibly helpful and knowledgeable,” said Imamura. “They are approachable for any questions regarding our training as well as what to expect in our future jobs.”

JBLM Welding Class 17 is scheduled to graduate on June 13, but their training will not end once they receive their certificate. Graduates will enter the UA’s five-year apprenticeship and begin a guaranteed job with a UA signatory contractor in one of over 300 nationwide locations.

These jobs will provide livable wages, health insurance and retirement benefits, such as a 401k plan and a pension.

As an apprentice, they will gain new welding skills, as they work to become a journeyman.

In the weeks to come, students will be focusing on gaining hands-on welding experience in the lab additional safety training, learning the UA Standards of Excellence and earning welding certifications. 

For more information about the UA VIP Program at JBLM, click here.