Thanks to the United Association Veterans in Piping (UA VIP) program, Army Spc. Michael
Parker’s transition to civilian life was surprisingly smooth. He had a job waiting for him once he
got out of the Army.
“The UA VIP program was exceptionally helpful in teaching me the skills and education needed
to be able to go straight to work and start my career immediately after transitioning out of the
service,” he said. “The career transition was very smooth. Fortunately, my UA Brothers and
family provided me with the support I needed to make it through.”
Parker began his UA VIP training in Fort Hood’s Accelerated Welding Class 8 in 2015. Over the
course of 18 weeks, he trained alongside an experienced journeyman instructor through a
combination of classroom instruction and hands-on experience. He was already a welder as a
91E Allied Trades Specialist in the Army. But the UA VIP training helped sharpen his skills from
basic welding to pipe welding. It was the perfect fit.
The UA VIP program is a Career Skills Program (CSP) that prepares transitioning active-duty
service members for a career in the pipe trades after the military.
Transitioning active-duty service members are invited to apply for the UA VIP program during
their last six months of service. Training takes place at select military bases across the nation.
The UA VIP program offers training in welding, HVACR and fire sprinkler fitting.
Career advancement, with options
After Parker completed his UA VIP training and transitioned out of the military in 2015, he began
a UA registered apprenticeship program with Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 296 in Nampa,
Idaho. He immediately began working upon arrival to his Local, earning good union wages while
he learned additional skills. Parker quickly became eligible for quality healthcare for his family
and began earning a pension and a 401K for his retirement.
“The UA VIP program gave me an exceptional start to grow from,” Parker said. “In my
apprenticeship, I did not encounter any welding processes that I didn't already have because of
the UA VIP Program. I went to a combination local where I was able to learn all aspects of the
trade and branch my skills out to plumbing and fitting on top of welding. The UA VIP program
prepared me for a great career with the UA.”
Parker turned out as a journeyman in 2019. At first, he focused on the semiconductor trade, but
was soon hired as the Training Director for Local 296 – a challenge he embraces.
“The UA VIP Program changed my life,” Parker said. “I will be forever grateful to (UA VIP
Program Manager) Mike Hazard and the UA for affording me the opportunity, and Local 296 for
giving me a home.”