More than half of transitioning veterans experience unemployment for four months or longer after leaving the military, according to a U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation study.
Fortunately, that will not be a problem for the graduates of Joint Base Lewis-McChord HVACR Class 25.
Thanks to the United Association Veterans in Piping (UA VIP) program, the graduates are guaranteed a good-paying job after they transition out of the military.
The UA VIP program is a Career Skills Program (CSP) that prepares transitioning active duty service members for a career in the pipe trades. It provides a guaranteed job with health insurance and retirement benefits through a UA registered apprenticeship program at an agreed-upon location.
For 18 weeks, the Class 25 graduates learned the basics of installing, repairing, maintaining and replacing heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. They trained alongside an experienced journeyman through both classroom and hands-on training. Many earned industry-recognized certifications in electrical, recovery and HVAC refrigeration.
“The best part of the class was learning how to braze,” said Army Spc. Joshua Murphy. “The UA VIP program has taught me many useful things. It offered the best training that really stood above other Skillbridge programs.”
It’s been an engaging class, said Army Sgt. Carlos Taylor.
“This class has been really excellent,” Taylor said. “From the very first day, I never lost interest. Everyone is engaged and eager to learn. It’s been amazing to watch the progress everyone’s made and see them apply what they’ve learned.”
Transitioning active-duty service members are invited to apply to the UA VIP program during their last six months of duty. UA VIP training is available in welding, HVAC and fire suppression – learning the basics of installing, inspecting, repairing and maintaining fire sprinkler systems. UA VIP training is available at seven military bases across the country.
- Joint Base Lewis-McChord offers training in welding and HVAC.
- Camp Pendleton offers training in welding.
- Fort Carson offers training in welding.
- Fort Hood offers training in welding.
- Camp Lejeune offers training in welding.
- Fort Campbell offers training in welding and fire suppression.
- Naval Station Norfolk offers training in HVAC.
“The UA VIP program has been outstanding,” said Master Sgt. Allen Sturdevant. “It has a good balance of classroom instruction and hands-on training. The training provides a systematic approach to learning a trade. The structure was set up perfectly.”
Transitioning active-duty service members apply to each program individually. Military members must get the approval of their commanding officers to participate. The UA VIP program is considered part of their military responsibilities.
A guaranteed civilian career with health insurance and retirement
Once Class 25 graduates transition out of the military, they will join a UA registered apprenticeship program at an agreed-upon location. Some of the grads plan to attend training in Sacramento, Seattle and Tampa.
During their apprenticeship training, they will earn good union wages while they train. Their pay steadily increases as they progress through the program and expand their skill set. They will quickly qualify for quality health insurance for their family. They will also earn a pension and a 401K for their retirement.
Upon completing their apprenticeship training, they will become journeymen with numerous opportunities for advancement. Some may one day own their own businesses. Others will eventually become foremen or superintendents. Some may go on to become certified journeyman instructors, perhaps even in the UA VIP program.