U.S. Marine Sgt. Dustin Shehane was looking for a recession proof career once he got out of the military.
Thanks to the United Association Veterans in Piping (UA VIP) program, he will have exactly that. He and the other nine graduates who recently completed UA VIP Camp LeJeune Welding Class 20 will have guaranteed job placement after the military.
Once they transition out of the military, they will go on to begin a UA registered apprenticeship at an agreed upon location.
“I’ve always wanted to weld,” Shehane said. “I enjoy building things, and I wanted a good paying career. The UA VIP program will provide me with a line of work that has a great future.”
Over the course of 18 weeks, the graduates learned basic welding skills that forged the foundation for their future careers. They learned alongside an experienced journeyman through a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on training. And they earned industry recognized certifications that will put them ahead when they go on to begin their apprenticeship training.
The Welding Class 20 students earned a myriad of certifications, including safety and first aid, as well as industry specific certifications such as oxy fuel cutting, SMAW plate welding, SPAW and GTAW pipe welding and SMAW pipe spooling.
“It’s been a great experience and the classroom work is well-balanced between seat time and welding time,” Shehane said. “I’ve learned how to correctly and safely operate tools, torches, plasma cutters and welding machines. My favorite part is definitely the welding and the continuous challenges that come with welding.”
Training takes place during the last few months of a transitioning active-duty service members enlistment. UA VIP classes are available in welding, HVACR and fire sprinkler fitting at select military bases throughout the country.
The UA VIP program is the beginning to a great civilian career
After transitioning out of the military, the UA VIP graduates will begin a UA apprenticeship and earn good union wages as they learn. They will quickly qualify for quality health insurance for their family. And they will start contributing to a pension and a 401K for their retirement.
“After I get out of the military, I look forward to a lot of long days and long drives,” said U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Marshall Payton, a graduate of Camp Lejeune Welding Class 20.
“But it will certainly be rewarding. I joined the UA VIP program because I didn’t want to be that person who gets out of the military and just sits around all day. I’m looking forward to staying busy and being successful.”
Wondering what he should do after the military, Payton researched the UA VIP program online. He was interested in beginning a career in the pipe trades and was considering enrolling in a community college.
“But ultimately, the UA VIP program had too many benefits,” he said. “You just need to be prepared to work harder than you ever have before. At the end of the day, nobody is going to hold your hand to make you successful. It’s all up to you.”
The UA VIP program promises more than a job — it’s the beginning of a great career.
“Unlike most SkillBridge programs, you don’t just take a course and then get thrown into a job,” Shehane said. “The UA apprenticeship program continues education after the course is complete and practically guarantees you a job. The UA VIP program helps you transition out of the military by providing a real career.”