Take a look at some of the newsworthy items for the VIP program.

UA VIP graduate credits program for creating amazing civilian career

Sam Phipps with sons

Ever since Sam Phipps can remember, joining the military was all he ever wanted to do. It was the only thing he would consider as a career choice, but little did he know it would lead him down an incredible career path he could never have imagined. 

IMG_7332Phipps joined the army as an Infantryman directly out of high school. He was stationed at Joint Base Lewis McChord before he was deployed to Afghanistan in 2011 and 2012. Two years later, he decided it was time to transition out of the Army and back into the civilian world.

Like most veterans, Phipps was uncertain about what he would do after he left the military. He felt pressured to find a career that would allow him to take care of his family. When Phipps came across the UA VIP program, he thought the program seemed too good to be true. 

“For an organization to take the last five months of my military service and teach me a trade, with guaranteed job placement, while still maintaining my benefits from the Army didn’t seem possible,” he said. “Yet, I still went in and applied for the class and hoped for the best.”

To this day, Phipps said he is still in disbelief that he was accepted into the program because the program and the UA have completely changed his life.

After graduating from the program, Phipps went home to Missouri to start a new life with his newly learned skills. It began in the apprenticeship program at Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 562 in Eastern Missouri.IMG_0377

“To go from wearing that flag every day alongside your brothers and sisters that you’ve gone through Hell and back with is impossible to put into words,” Phipps said about the level of brotherhood that comes with being in the military.

It was something he thought he lost, but all of that changed once he arrived at Local 562.

“They welcomed me with open arms and gave me all the guidance and resources needed to be successful,” he said.

The first thing Phipps learned at Local 562 is that the Brothers and Sisters in the Local are just as important as the quality of their work. 

“Thanks to Local 562 for taking a chance on someone they have never met before, I can now provide a life for my two boys that I never had or ever thought was possible,” Phipps said.

New career opportunities post UA VIP program

In the blink of an eye, Phipps’ five-year apprenticeship program was coming to an end and thanks to the UA VIP program, Union Veterans Council and Local 562, new opportunities began to present themselves. 

“I found myself with a new career opportunity with the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance that yet again, did not seem real or possible,” Phipps said. “Combining my two biggest passions, the outdoors and labor, is an absolute dream come true.”

Phipps said having the ability to put those passions to work to positively impact communities across the country is truly a blessing. 

Working for the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance

Now, Phipps works as the Conservation Programs Manager for the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA), with a mission to unite the union community through conservation to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage.IMG_7814

This is achieved by bringing together union members to volunteer their time and unique trade skills to complete projects and youth outreach events that improve public access to the outdoors, restore America’s parks, educate future generations of sportsmen and women and conserve healthy wildlife habitats. 

Membership in the USA is free for all UA members – a benefit provided by the UA International. 

“I urge my UA Brothers and Sisters to use USA as a tool,” Phipps said. “A tool to not only connect with your members and their families outside of the workplace but to create a positive impact on your local community.”

To activate your membership, visit To learn more about what USA does, visit their website at and read the bi-monthly e-newsletter to see what events, projects and activities the USA has in the pipeline.

Phipps encourages all UA members to attend a sporting clay shoot, conservation dinner or volunteer at a USA conservation project or youth outreach event. 

“You’ll meet a lot of union members from the UA and other trades and have the opportunity to change the lives of others,” he said.