As the weeks begin to wind down and the United Association Veterans in Piping (UA VIP) Welding Class 18 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord nears its end, participants are learning where they will begin the next phase of their lives.
The nine students who make up Welding Class 18 are not only busy working toward earning key UA welding certifications, but are also deciding where they will live once they leave the military.
UA VIP, a free, 18-week career-training program, teaches participants basic welding skills, which they will put to work with a United Association signatory contractor after they transition out of the service.
At this stage of class, students are working with their instructors and UA VIP administrators to select geographic locations where they would like to begin the next stage of their lives, as they start a civilian career in the UA.
“We are currently in the middle of placements,” said Kris McAferty, JBLM VIP Lead Welding Instructor. “This is when we get confirmation from the Locals that the service member is accepted to a Local’s JATC.
“Seeing them get placed is my favorite part of each class,” he added.
Through guaranteed employment, UA VIP helps graduates alleviate the stress faced when transitioning out of the military. Instead of looking for work and wondering how they can support their families, UA VIP graduates know they have a guaranteed job in a certain geographic location. The job provides them with livable wages, excellent family medical insurance and a great retirement package, which includes a pension and 401k plan.
Additionally, they are also guaranteed a spot in the UA’s five-year registered apprenticeship program, where they will work their way toward becoming a UA journeyman.
The nine members of Welding Class 18 may come from three different military branches - Army, Navy and Marines - but all have one common goal to begin a successful career.
“To know we have a good support system from our UA Local makes us feel secure to retire from our military branches,” said UA VIP Welding Class 18 Specialist Richard Vallejo.
Now, with their future locations set, the students are pushing themselves even harder to do their best and learn as much as they can from their instructors.
To learn more about the welding program at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, click here.