For Army Sergeant First Class James Brown, the transition from the military into civilian life was seamless and relatively stress-free. It was all thanks to the United Association (UA) Veterans in Piping (VIP) Program, where he was a member of HVAC-R Class 11 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The program taught him basic HVACR skills that prepared him for a UA registered apprenticeship program.
“The qualities and expectations of an UA member align with those we carried in the military,” Brown stated. “It is definitely a great way to transition. The VIP Program set me up with skills and an opportunity to earn a solid living wage.”
It was the UA VIP’s promise of guaranteed job placement after graduating the program that appealed to Brown. After completing the training and transitioning out of the military, Brown started a UA apprenticeship at an agreed upon location of his choice. Straight out of the military, he was earning good union wages and was quickly eligible for quality healthcare for himself and his family. He was earning a pension and a 401K for his retirement.
“It was the line of work, the program style and the promise of an opportunity at the end that attracted me to the VIP Program,” Brown said. “No other program even came close to being as promising.”
A career opportunity after the military
The United Association Veterans in Piping Program is designed to provide members of the military with valuable construction skills and prepare them for civilian careers. The training is free to participants and happens on base during the last six months of military service. Active duty service members are eligible to apply to the program during their last 18-months of enlistment.
UA VIP Classes are available in welding, HVACR and fire sprinkler fitting. The training takes place at select military bases throughout the country.
Participants are taught the basic pipe trades skills by an experienced United Association instructor through a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on training. They earn industry recognized certifications that give them a leg up on their peers.
Upon completing the UA VIP training and transitioning out of the military, Brown joined UA Local 32 where he began his apprenticeship. He is working for Honeywell Building Solutions doing chiller rebuilds, project management, crane picks, equipment installations and some large scale quoting projects.
Brown would highly recommend the UA VIP Program to others.
“Do it!” Brown said. “You will not find a better opportunity!”