The United Association of Plumbers, Pipefitters, Sprinkler fitters, and Service Technicians (UA) is proud to announce the graduation of its very first Fort Hood Veterans in Piping (VIP®) welding class of active-duty soldiers transitioning from the Army, which took place at the Phantom Warrior Center, Fort Hood, Texas, on July 1, 2014.
The six graduates successfully completed the 18-week intensive welding training program and have been placed in local unions throughout the country. The graduates will continue their apprenticeships to become successful UA journeyworkers.
The award-winning program, which has been in existence since it was introduced in the state of Washington with guard and reservist on August 4, 2008, and then moved to Camp Pendleton in California in 2009, now encompasses five bases throughout the country, with a sixth coming onboard this fall.
Micah Tyler, the lead VIP welding instructor at Fort Hood, stated, “The end result [once graduated from the program] is having certified pipe welders that we can send out to work with guaranteed jobs. They’re all going to have jobs when they separate from the Army.”
For the transitioning soldiers from Fort Hood, the program has been a lifeline to guaranteed jobs that become real careers with all of the benefits of belonging to a strong and valid union—good jobs, healthcare, representation, and a pension.
Keynote speakers at the event included Major General Anders Aadland, U.S. Army (Ret.), who is now a senior consultant to the VIP program for the UA, and Fort Hood Garrison Command Sergeant Major Douglas R. Gault, as well as dignitaries from the UA.
Graduate Staff Sergeant Jarrod Baker’s last day of active duty was on June 18, just weeks before his graduation from the program. He said, “This is an amazing transition from military to civilian life. I’m an infantryman, and many of my skills with the infantry don’t really cross over into the civilian sector. This gives me the great opportunity to learn a trade, master it quickly, get back to work, and not have to worry about finances, or what I’m going to do when I’m out. For everyone in the program, as a whole, it gives us a new opportunity to perfect one of these trades or learn a new one. It sets you up for a career for the rest of your life.”
The graduates are on their way to acquiring skills that are in real demand. VIP Instructor Micah Tyler added, “The massive demand for good labor is why this program works and is successful. This particular location started because of the demand for labor in the Gulf Coast.”
VIP Training Specialist Mike Hazard, who oversees the program on all of the participating military bases and is a veteran himself, thanked the soldiers for their selfless service to our country. UA Director of Training Chris Haslinger traveled to Texas to thank the participants for their service and to congratulate them, stating that they would be setting the standard for their brothers-in-arms as the first graduating class.
The UA would like to congratulate Staff Sergeant Amos Araiza, who will continue his training at Local 211 in Houston, TX; Staff Sergeant Jarrod Baker, who has been assigned to Local 211, Houston, TX; Sergeant Clint Martin, who will begin his career at Local 100 in Garland, TX; Sergeant Jeremy Ott, who will be traveling to Local 430 in Tulsa, OK; Sergeant Michael Scott, who has been assigned to Local 106 in Lake Charles, LA; and Specialist Diego San Juan, who will continue on to Local 211 in Houston, TX.
At the graduation, Director of Training Haslinger concluded, stating, “Knowing that when you leave here, you’re leaving with a real career is all the appreciation we need for this course … knowing that we’ve given back to the soldiers who have given so much.”