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UA VIP Fort Campbell Welding Class 22 begins

Fort Campbell Welding Class 22 is now underway, and the students – regardless of previous experience level – are beginning to learn key foundational welding skills that will prepare them for future civilian careers in the pipe trades. 

The class is part of the United Association’s Veterans in Piping (UA VIP) Program, a DOD SkillBridge Program that transitioning active-duty service members in their last six months of service can join to ease the stress that often accompanies leaving the military and returning to civilian life.

The Class 22 students at Fort Campbell will learn basic welding skills over the course of 18 weeks, taught by an experienced journeyman instructor. The training involves a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on training.

Army Staff Sgt. Conner Jetton was drawn to the UA VIP program by the intensive on-base training provided during a relatively short time period.

“What attracted me to the VIP program was the entry into a Local Union and an in-depth, 18-week curriculum,” he said, adding that he expects to learn the essentials of pipefitting and welding and obtain at least three industry-recognized certifications. 

Among the certificates the students in Class 22 can obtain are OSHA, oxy-fuel cutting, SMAW plate welding, SPAW and GRAW pipe welding and SMAW pipe spooling. In class, they will also learn how to cut and weld pieces of material and read blueprints. 

After transitioning out of the military, all UA VIP class graduates obtain a spot in a DOL-registered UA Apprenticeship program at an agreed-upon location and a guaranteed job with a UA signatory contractor.

Conner said he plans to use his G.I. Bill to secure a wage equivalent to his current earnings and carve out a career path ripe with opportunities for growth.

Active-duty transitioning service members are encouraged to apply to any of the following bases:

UA Apprenticeship starts a rewarding career

The UA VIP program seemed like a natural fit for Army Spc. Anthony Patterson who admitted he has been interested in welding for some time. He also hopes to acquire numerous welding certifications during his time in Class 22 and then stay the course during his time as an apprentice. 

During a UA apprenticeship, Patterson will be among thousands across the country earning good union pay. He will also quickly qualify for quality healthcare for himself and his family, as well as earning a pension and a 401K for retirement.

After completing the Registered Apprenticeship program, members become journeymen, which opens a wide variety of career paths, including foremen, superintendents, educators, UA signatory contractors or even leadership positions as UA officers or organizers.