Unemployment among men and women exiting the military remains unacceptably high, and with recently announced draw downs in active duty personnel strength, these numbers are bound to increase unless there are programs established to offer second careers to departing Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines. One such program was recently launched at Fort Carson, a large Army base in Colorado, which will go a long way towards reducing joblessness among our veterans. On March 7, the first graduates of the United Association’s (UA) Veterans in Piping (VIP) program at Ft. Carson will receive their certifications of completion and have the opportunity to step onto a career path that will enable them to provide for their families and build a better future.
The VIP program offers both skills training and jobs in the piping trades to U.S. veterans and active duty military personnel preparing to leave the service. Participants earn industry-recognized certifications and college credit as part of their training. They also gain direct entry into apprenticeship programs following graduation from the VIP program. In most cases, upon leaving the service, VIP graduates are able to relocate to the area of their choice. The training these service members receive is absolutely free; all funding comes from the United Association International Training Fund, a management and labor cooperative fund.
United Association General President William P. Hite initiated the VIP program in 2008 to address two important issues: (1) an exceedingly high unemployment rate among America’s veterans, despite their discipline, character, and trainability; and (2) a growing shortage in the construction industry of skilled workers due to the combined effects of an aging workforce, increased demand and a lack of skills training for youth.
“It was simply the right thing to do,” Mr Hite has said, and the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) agreed, giving the program its Distinguished Service Award.
As the latest graduates of the VIP program in Ft. Carson march across the stage March 7 to receive their certificates, they will also be taking their first steps into a future that is filled with opportunity and promise.
About the UA: The United Association of Plumbers, Pipefitters, Sprinklerfitters and HVACR Service Technicians represents approximately 370,000 skilled piping professionals in North America and Australia. The UA established the first nationally registered joint apprenticeship program in the United States, dating back to 1936. With the VIP program, the UA has partnered with the U.S. military to help improve the lives of returning veterans, their families and the national economy.