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UA Veterans in Piping (VIP) By UA Veterans in Piping (VIP) • March 15, 2019

UA VIP apprentice creates better opportunity for family by joining program

Combined, Michael Parker served for nearly 10 years in both the Army and National Guard, before he decided to leave the military and transition back into civilian life.

A native of Eugene, Ore., Parker learned about the United Association Veterans in Piping Program while taking college courses at the education center located at Fort Hood, where he found information about the free 18-week accelerated welding program and decided to look further into the opportunity.

In August 2015, Parker graduated from the fourth UA VIP welding class at Fort Hood, and then began his five-year UA apprenticeship.

UA VIP - Parker Success StoryNow, a fifth-year apprentice, Parker is glad he found the UA VIP, which allowed him to provide a comfortable lifestyle for his family after transitioning out of the army.

“After doing some research, soul searching and careful consideration, I came to the conclusion that the VIP Program would give me the best opportunity,” he said. “The UA VIP Program has kept me employed and provides a steady, reliable income for myself and my family.”

Once students graduate from the UA VIP Program, they are placed in a job with a UA signatory contractor in an agreed upon geographical area and enter the UA’s five-year registered apprenticeship program. As an apprentice, men and women earn a livable wage and receive quality benefits, including health insurance and retirement benefits, such as a 401k plan and a pension.

Besides the classroom instruction, apprentices learn by working on jobsites alongside journeymen, who help teach them about their craft.

“You learn a lot from various people you work with and you may learn some great things or not so great things,” said Parker. “It is your responsibility to pick and choose what works for you.”

Parker, a member of UA Local 296 Plumbers and Pipefitters in Boise, Idaho, currently works for RM Mechanical at Micron. As part of his training, he is continuing to earn more welding certifications, which will make him more employable in the future.

Looking back, he is glad he chose the UA VIP Program and encourages other transitioning active-duty military service members to not get discouraged and give up on their post-military dreams. He advises talking with someone and researching all options.

“As a transitioning soldier, there are a lot of dark times, so find someone you can go to and express yourself, openly,” Parker said. “At the end of the day, every path I considered, didn’t compare to what the UA had to offer.”

Click here to submit your information and learn more about the opportunities of becoming a member of the UA VIP class at Fort Hood.