The United Association Veterans in Piping (UA VIP) Program recently celebrated the graduation of their Fort Hood Welding Class 13 program.
UA VIP, UA leaders and members of the Fort Hood Soldier For Life - Transition Assistance Program (SFL-TAP) attended a short graduation ceremony, which recognized the 16 active-duty transitioning military service members who participated in the free 18-week accelerated career-training program.
UA VIP is proud to help alleviate the stress often faced by those transitioning out of the armed forces. Through guaranteed employment, its graduating members can focus on taking care of themselves and their family instead of worrying about finding a job.
“It is comforting to know that I have a job waiting on me during my transition to being a civilian,” said Army Sergeant and Class 13 graduate Victor Escamilla. “I have less stress because of the opportunity UA VIP has awarded me. I don't have to worry about retirement or insurance either. I highly recommend the VIP program for any soldier who likes to work and desires to be a craftsman.”
“This class has put my family and I further ahead, than I anticipated,” said Army Sergeant Ryan Shell, also a Class 13 graduate. “I am grateful to have found and had this opportunity.”
The UA VIP Program prepares students for immediate entry into the construction workforce with a UA signatory contractor. During the 18-week course, participants receive both classroom instruction and hands-on training in order to learn basic welding skills.
Upon successfully transitioning back into civilian life, UA VIP graduates will enter the UA’s five-year registered apprenticeship program, where they will improve upon their existing welding skills, gain new piping industry 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.
“If anyone asks me about the VIP, I am quick to tell them that it was one of the best decisions I could have made to secure my future,” said Army Specialist Coleman Waters. “I now have a job waiting on me and I'm on the staircase of success.”
For some UA VIP instructors, who are veterans themselves, the opportunity to help active-duty transitioning military service members is immeasurable.
“As a veteran, it is a pleasure and an honor to pass on the skills and knowledge I have acquired to fellow veterans,” said Fort Hood UA VIP Instructor Scott Blow. “I look forward to hearing from these servicemen about their endeavors as craftsmen and pray they carry their pride and work ethic into the workforce. I hope they succeed and seek to learn a new experience everyday as they move through the ranks in their apprenticeship.”
To learn more about the UA VIP Program, including participating bases, visit www.uavip.org.