The United Association Veterans in Piping Program hosted an open house for 14 graduating students that completed UA VIP Camp Lejeune Welding Class 11 on Oct. 18.
Despite missing time due to Hurricane Florence, which made landfall on Aug. 31, participants in the free, 18-week career-training program are prepared to begin a successful and rewarding career in the piping industry, once they complete their military service.
Open to active-duty, transitioning military service members, the UA VIP Program is proud to equip graduates with basic welding skills and certifications, while also guaranteeing them a job once they successfully complete the program and transition out of the armed forces.
“We really took a hit by missing almost two full weeks of class, due to Hurricane Florence,” said UA VIP Camp Lejeune Welding Instructor David Porter.
For Sgt. Timothy Zimmer, the UA Program helped him realize a goal of entering a registered building trades apprenticeship program after leaving the Marine Corps.
“This type of work has always appealed to me and this program made the decision so simple,” said Zimmer. “When I heard about the UA VIP Program I thought that maybe a program that welcomes you in, teaches you skills that are going to launch your career, and sets you up with a union job to begin a new, important chapter in your life, might be too good to actually exist. But, it is real and it works.”
Visitors to the open house event included family, friends, Camp Lejeune leadership, Dale Yarborough from North Carolina Community Colleges, Evelio Martinez from Mechanical Trades Carolina, Keith Batson from UA Local 421 and a representative from the North Carolina Department of Commerce.
All visitors had the opportunity to tour the on-base training trailers prior to a light lunch, followed by the presentation of class completion certificates.
Once UA VIP graduates transition out of the military, they will begin their civilian careers working for an UA signatory contractor in an agreed upon geographical location. As a member of the workforce, they will earn livable wages, excellent health insurance and a retirement plan that includes both a 401k and a pension.
“The great individuals involved with the program made my transition out of the Marine Corps in to the civilian workforce pain free,” said Zimmer. “It is a great feeling knowing that there is guaranteed work waiting for us, as long as we are willing to put in the work.”
In addition to on-the-job training, graduates will also further their industry education by joining a five-year apprenticeship program with an UA Local in their area. As an apprentice, they will receive classroom instruction to help increase their skillset and ensure their safety. As their skills improve, they will also earn pay increases to match their career advancement.
Military service members who are beginning the process to transition out of the military can apply for the UA VIP Program on seven military bases across the country.