The officers of the United Association (UA) and the UA Training Department are pleased to announce the addition of Army Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) to the coveted Veterans In Piping (VIP) Accelerated Welding Training Program. This latest initiative is part of a nationwide partnership that trains active-duty Marine, National Guard and Reserve, Army, Navy, and Air Force personnel for careers in the plumbing and pipefitting industry. The UA and UA General President Bill Hite spearheaded the accelerated welding training program in 2008, and in 2011 General President Hite accepted the Military Officers Association of America’s Distinguished Service Award for his dedication to the VIP program, as well as other UA initiatives for military personnel. Since then, the VIP program has been expanded to include training in HVACR Service. The United Association provides the training for free, and once graduated, the new UA apprentices are guaranteed placement in a lifelong career.
The January 2013 welding class is the first class from JBLM, and includes 18 active-duty Army personnel who can be proud that they successfully earned a seat in this highly selective, sought-after program. Classes started mid-January at the Plumbers, Pipefitters and Marine Pipefitters Local 26, Western Washington training facility. Participants take part in a comprehensive 18-week welding training program. The Training Department is looking forward to expanding the program at JBLM, and an on-post HVACR program is in the plans.
UA Director of Training Christopher Haslinger stated, “Although the VIP Program has been in existence since 2008, this is the very first time we have been able to partner with JBLM and offer this program on base to active-duty military personnel. We are honored that they have given us the opportunity to offer this program to transitioning soldiers, which will enable us to provide them with a lifelong career and a means to support their families. After their service to our country, it is truly our privilege to be in a position to help them on their way.”
JBLM will join Camp Douglas in Wisconsin and Camp Pendleton in California, which have already successfully graduated VIP classes. Local 26 was home to the very first class of VIP graduates. Since 2008, Local 26 has graduated several classes, and the officers of Local 26 are looking forward to welcoming JBLM into the fold. Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 72, Atlanta, Georgia, has also joined the initiative, graduating an Army National Guard welding class, and additional classes are being planned.
Micheal Hazard, UA Training Specialist, VIP Program, stated, “I am very excited about being on board Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The partnership established between the UA and the United States Army has led to a shattering of early goals that we set for the JBLM UA VIP program. This is also the first time that the UA has been able to offer training to VIP candidates in both the Welding and HVACR programs in one location. Amy Moorash is the Chief of the Advising Branch at the Stone & Hawk Education Center, and she serves as the liaison for the UA for the implementation of the VIP program. Ms. Moorash leads a bright and attentive staff of education counselors, whose hard work has led to such a remarkable start-up and partnership.”
Mike Hazard further stated, “As a Navy veteran, I know what it feels like to transition out of the military and back into civilian life. The military veterans are a very humble group. A majority of this class just got back from Afghanistan, and they are so very grateful just to have the opportunity to interview for this program. During the interview process, I often hear statements such as, ‘There isn’t another program like this in the Army,’ or, ‘When did you guys start this?’ or, ‘Thank you so much for letting me interview.’ I always respond with, ‘Thank you for serving our country.’ The UA recognizes that all of these folks are excellent candidates; we recognize their value and want them as members. To the VIP candidates, the program sounds too good to be true. I always tell them we have been keeping our word to every VIP graduate since we started this program, and we’re not about to change that. I am confident that this is the start of many firsts for the JBLM UA VIP program.”