In late March, the United Association Veterans in Piping (UA VIP) Program honored the recent graduation of nine active-duty transitioning military service members with a celebratory event at Fort Carson.
Family members, UA VIP personnel and a representative from the Fort Carson Career Skills Program attended the event, which marked the completion of the free 18-week piping industry career-training program designed to help active-duty transitioning military service members alleviate stress of finding a new civilian career. Upon successful completion, UA VIP graduates will begin new careers in the piping industry, through direct entry into the UA’s five-year apprenticeship program in an agreed upon location nationwide and guaranteed job placement with a UA signatory contractor.
“There’s no better opportunity for a transitioning soldier than this one,” VIP Graduate, Staff Sergeant Shane Stament said.
“The UA VIP program offers transitioning soldiers the opportunity to successfully accomplish an introduction into pipefitting and welding,” said Army Sergeant First Class James Galvez, who also graduated from the VIP program. “It also helps with the transition from military to civilian life by teaching, coaching and mentoring with highly skilled instructors.”
The accelerated career skills program prepares students for immediate entry into the workforce with a UA signatory contractor. Participants receive both classroom instruction and hands-on training, as they learn the basics of welding and then work to develop and improve upon their newly found skillset.
Both Galvez and Stament feel the UA VIP Program pushes students to learn these new skills within a short period of time, but both agreed it is worth it because the program helps alleviate the stress faced by those transitioning out of the armed forces. Through guaranteed employment, members can focus on taking care of themselves and their family instead of worrying about finding a job.
“We were told from the beginning this career will not be easy. If it was, everyone would do it,” said Stament.”
“The work ethic of the soldiers is put to the test during this rigorous class, where they must display their discipline and knowledge in order to complete an assigned task,” Galvez said.
Once UA VIP graduates enter the UA’s five-year apprenticeship program, they will improve existing skills, gain new skills and acquire industry experience. They will also receive corresponding hourly wage increases from their employer as they progress through the apprenticeship program. The wage increases are in addition to the excellent health insurance and great retirement benefits – both a 401k plan and a pension – they receive when they begin their new job.
Fort Carson UA VIP Instructor Jason Smith believes the members of Class 14 will do well as they work their way toward becoming a UA journeyman.
“It has been our honor to instruct and mentor these fine soldiers,” said Smith. “They will be a great addition to the United Association and make the Brotherhood that much stronger.”
To learn more about the UA VIP Program, including participating bases, visit www.uavip.org.