The United Association (UA) is proud to announce the graduation of its Veterans in Piping Program Naval Station Norfolk HVAC-R Class 7 on Sept. 27.
The free, 18-week career training program equipped 10 graduates, nine from the Navy and one member of the Army, with basic HVAC-R skills and prepared them to begin a successful and rewarding career in the piping industry, once they complete their military service.
“I could not ask for a more willing to perform group,” said UA VIP Naval Station Norfolk Instructor Marvin Donnell. “Anything I ask, they do to the best of their ability. As I told them on their first day, ‘this will be the fastest 18 weeks of your life.’”
"What could be more American than serving your country in the military and then joining a union," said UA VIP Naval Station Norfolk HVAC-R Class 7 member and Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dustin Dreckshage.
An open house event, held on Sept. 6, took place at the UA VIP Naval Station Norfolk training facility. During the event, each UA VIP member was stationed near a particular piece of equipment to explain its operation. Stations included a Roof Top Unit, The Brazing Station and The Mitsubishi System. Commanding Officers and Career Counselors encouraged many perspective students to attend the event. The open house was also attended by UA Local 110 Norfolk officers.
Donnell said this class had to overcome adversity, as several classmates were impacted by tragedies involving fellow Navy sailors.
Earlier in the year, members of HVAC-R Class 7 toured of the Portsmouth Naval Medical Facility to see the physical plants where the steam, hot water and chiller water are generated and distributed throughout the campus to occupied spaces. The class spent some time in the facility’s building automation control room, where the operator explained how the system controls everything from smoke removal to climate control.
Once they successfully transition out of the military, each UA VIP graduate is guaranteed a job with a UA signatory contractor, where they will earn livable wages and receive excellent benefits – including health insurance and retirement benefits such as a 401k plan and a pension. Such benefits help the UA VIP graduates take care of their families as they return to civilian life, which eliminates the stress and struggles often faced by transitioning service members.
Graduates can enter a five-year UA apprenticeship program where they receive on-the-job training and classroom instruction to further their knowledge of the piping industry. Apprentices receive standard wage increases as they progress through this training, eventually becoming a highly trained and highly skilled UA journeyman.
Military service members who are beginning to prepare for their transition out of the military can apply for the UA VIP Program on seven military bases across the country. For more information on the UA VIP Program, including participating bases, visit www.uavip.org.