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

UA VIP graduate first to become a UA Training Director

Former Army Spc. Michael Parker joined the United Association Veterans in Piping (UA VIP) program to prepare for his transition out of the military into a civilian career in the pipe trades. 

Parker was a member of Fort Cavazos Welding Class 4, where he learned the basics of welding before he transitioned out of the military in 2015.Michael Parker

Between learning in a classroom and hands-on training, Parker obtained critical welding skills and earned multiple certifications all before he finished his military commitment. 

“The VIP program made the transition from active duty to civilian life extremely easy,” Parker said. “It erased the worrisome burden of finding a job or schooling; instead it gave me both. All I had to worry about was securing a place to live.”

Parker came across a UA VIP flyer in the education building but at the time was not planning on transitioning out of the service. A few months later, circumstances changed and he was looking to transition when he remembered the flyer. 

After graduating from the UA VIP program, Parker immediately began his apprenticeship in Idaho with Plumbers and Pipefitters UA Local 296, where he still is today. 

Parker added that he knew from the first moment he stepped into the Local that his dream job was to become the Training Director. 

When he arrived at Local 296 as a certified welder, he was put to work immediately. By the start of his fifth year, Parker had all applicable licenses including his Idaho plumbing license, Oregon Class 5 license, medical gas license, and multiple other certifications. 

Parker started his instructor career by teaching first-years for a semester. Eventually, he started teaching first-years for the entire year. Michael Parker Mike Hazard

The same year he started teaching first-year apprentices, the training director position opened up. Parker applied and was shocked when he was hired as the new Training Director.

“My journey from active-duty soldier in the Veteran in Piping program to the United Association Local Union 296 SWJATC Training Director has been filled with opportunity and success,” he said. 

“I was the first VIP candidate for Local 296 to successfully complete the SWJATC Apprenticeship Program and upon hire, became the first VIP graduate to become a Training Director in the United Association,” he said. 

The VIP program will improve your life


The UA VIP program is a DOD SkillBridge program designed to teach transitioning active-duty military service members the skills necessary to begin their careers in the pipe trades.

Michael Parker FamVIP graduates receive direct entry into a DOL-registered UA apprenticeship program after transitioning out of the military. 

While in the five-year apprenticeship program, VIP graduates will start earning good union wages and quickly become eligible for quality healthcare for not only themselves but their families. 

Parker recommends the UA VIP program to any transitioning active duty service member looking for a rewarding career when they leave the military. 

“Do it, it’s worth it,” Parker said. “There are going to be good days and bad days, but in the long run it is worth it and you can go as far as you want. You are your only limitation.” 

Any transitioning active-duty service member interested in learning more about the UA VIP program is encouraged to learn more on the UA VIP website.