A current student in the United Association Veterans in Piping (UA VIP) Program believes he will have an abundance of work for years to come, putting him in a better position than many individuals pursuing degrees at various colleges and universities.
“I decided to join the UA VIP Program for job security,” said Army Sergeant Jerrell Drew. “There will always be a need for welders. Therefore, as long as I maintain my competence, I will always have work.”
The UA VIP Program is an 18-week Career Skills program designed to equip active-duty transitioning military service members with the skills needed for an entry-level career in the pipe trades. VIP participants learn through hands-on work in a lab as well as classroom instruction.
SGT Drew said he has become comfortable in the welding program at Fort Carson. The UA VIP instructors have helped him at every turn.
“I am adjusting to the program very well,” he said. “The instructors have clear and accurate information that helps me understand all of the material provided.”
Once VIP participants graduate from the program and successfully transition out of the military, they are guaranteed job placement with a UA signatory contractor. This helps fill the void left by an aging, retiring pipe trades workforce, while providing employment to veterans.
In addition to job placement, VIP graduates gain direct entry to the five-year UA registered apprenticeship program. During this apprenticeship program, VIP graduates build on their skillset as they work toward becoming a journeyman.
As apprentices, VIP graduates earn a livable wage with scheduled increases as they progress through the apprenticeship program. Additionally, UA members earn full-family health insurance and retirement benefits, such as a 401k and pension.
The wages, job placement and quality of the VIP Program is ultimately what convinced Drew to learn more and eventually give the VIP Program a shot.
“The representative that I spoke with ultimately convinced me to try the UA VIP Program out above the rest,” Drew said. “I weighed all known pros and cons of each class, as well as placement opportunities and decided that the UA VIP Program aligned closest to what I wanted and needed.”
To learn more about the UA VIP Program at Fort Carson, please click here.
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Video and Photo Gallery
Take a look at everything the VIP program is doing for our returning veterans — through videos and photos.
Pipefitters Local 455, St. Paul, MN, Apprentice David Adams (VIP graduate, Wisconsin Welding Class 2) is pictured on the job working for Pioneer Piping, Incorporated (PPI) at the Flint Hills Refinery in MN.
Camp Pendleton VIP Graduate turned out as Journeyman and makes a life in Butte, MT, with Local 41.
Orry graduated on April 9, 2015 and affiliated with UA Local 455, St. Paul, MN.
Sgt. Jerry Heneha, A Battery, 1st Battalion, 31st Field Artillery, puts together a valve system in preparation for his final week of the United Association's Veterans in Piping program at the Industrial Training Complex Photo Credit: Ms. Marie Berberea (TRADOC)
Fort Sill's inaugural Sprinkler Fitter class began on 2 March 2015.
SFC Michael Olsen and 1SG William Davidson presented their instructors Louis Purcella and Micah Tyler with a momentum from the class.
SGT Howard Nash is headed to Harrisburg, PA, to affiliate with Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 520.
Gail Pilecki was so proud of her son, SGT Jeremy Pilecki, on graduation day. SGT Pilecki will make his home in Houston, affiliating with Pipefitters Local 211.
1SG William Davidson gave the graduate testimonial. He will remain with his family in Waco, TX, affiliating with Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 529 in Waco, TX.
SFC Michael Olsen and his wife, Amanda, will remain in the area, affiliating with Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 529 in Waco, TX.
Alysa and SPC Chad Eberle will be heading to San Antonio, TX, with Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 142.
SGT Lawrence Beller, his wife, Brittney, and daughter, Nahla, will be making Houston, TX, their home, affiliating with Pipefitters Local 211.
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