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Service member turned pipefitter thanks to VIP Program

UA Veterans in Piping - Richard Healy

The United Association Veterans in Piping (UA VIP) Program was instrumental in helping Army Sergeant First Class Richard Healy successfully transition out of the armed forces and into a career as a pipefitter.

Now a fourth year apprentice with UA Local 120 in Cleveland, Healy acknowledges the VIP Program was very beneficial in leading him into a new civilian career.

“The VIP Program made my transition from military life to civilian life way less stressful,” Healy said. “One part of transitioning is trying to figure out what to do next. The VIP Program prepared me for a career after the Army.”

The UA VIP Program is a Career Skills program dedicated to helping active-duty transitioning military service members train for a career in the pipe trades. The free, 18-week program is open to all active-duty transitioning service members and teaches them entry-level pipe trades skills during their final weeks of service.

The VIP Program stood out to Healy as he was beginning to transition out of the armed forces.

“The quality of training and emphasis on helping VIP participants is what stood out about the program to me,” Healy said.

After successfully completing the VIP Program and transitioning out of the armed forces, graduates are placed with a UA signatory contractor in an agreed upon location. While working for this contractor, the graduates earn a livable wage and are provided quality full-family health insurance and retirement benefits such as a 401k and pension.

In addition to job placement with a UA contractor, the graduate also gains direct entry into the five-year UA apprenticeship program. As apprentices, the graduates earn while they continue to learn. They complete course work at training centers nationwide and learn from experienced journeymen while working on-the-job.

Sometimes, veterans struggle to transition back into civilian life. Healy, like many other VIP graduates are thankful for the career the UA provides, which helps reduce the stress of transitioning. The structure and day-to-day work in the pipe trades is a great fit for many veterans.

“The transition was very smooth,” Healy said. “It was nice going from one brotherhood right into another one.”

To learn more about the VIP Program at all seven installments, click here.