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UA Veterans in Piping (VIP) By UA Veterans in Piping (VIP) • April 26, 2019

UA VIP students at JBLM exceed instructors expectations

Halfway through the United Association Veterans in Piping (UA VIP) Program, students in Joint Base Lewis-McChord Welding Class 17 are exceeding the expectations of their instructors, as they work towards earning welding certifications.

The eight UA VIP students, who are active-duty transitioning military service members, are working their way through the free 18-week accelerated career skills training program, as they learn basic piping industry skills, including welding.

JBLM Lead Welding Instructor Kris McAferty is impressed with all of the students in Class 17.

“This graduating class has really stood out with talent and is probably the most talented group I have had,” McAferty said. “It will be exciting to see when we start doing regular weld testing in a few weeks.”

The one student that stands out in particular to McAferty is Dustin Barron, who set a new record for the fastest student at JBLM to gain the UA 100 welding certification.

Currently, Barron is working toward gaining his UA 21 welding certification.

“We need to find a way to challenge Dustin,” McAferty said. “We had Dustin performing typical welding positions, but added a twist to it.”

The twist, as seen in the image below has Barron welding and grinding pipe in the rack position.

Dustin JBLM

Kody Domina, JBLM Welding Class 17 student, said any active-duty transitioning military service members who are thinking about applying for the UA VIP program should not worry about having any experience. Domina said students gain valuable experience in the class and will graduate with skills they can put to work in a rewarding career.

JBLM Welding Class 17 is scheduled to graduate on June 13 where friends and family will attend a graduation ceremony.

Upon successful completion of the program and transition out of the armed forces, UA VIP graduates are guaranteed job placement with a UA signatory contractor and direct entry into a five-year UA apprenticeship program in an agreed upon location nationwide.

As a UA apprentice, they will work alongside UA journeymen, where they will continue to gain vital industry knowledge and approve upon their skillset.

Apprentices make a livable hourly wage, excellent health insurance and great retirement benefits, including a 401k plan and a pension. They will receive corresponding hourly wage increases from their employer as they progress through the apprenticeship program on their way to topping out as a journeyman.

To learn more about the welding program at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, visit our click here.