For Navy Petty Officer Second Class Eddie Thompson, the high level of training and smooth transition out of the military made the United Association Veterans in Piping Program at Naval Station Norfolk stand out among other SkillBridge programs.
“After talking with my command career counselor about other programs, the VIP program stood out among the rest,” Thompson said. “The immediate transition from the military to my next career and the level of training involved was unmatched.”
The United Association (UA) Veterans in Piping (VIP) Program is an 18-week Skillbridge program designed to equip active-duty transitioning military service members with entry level pipe trades skills during the final months of their service.
As a first year apprentice with UA Local 420 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Thompson is pleased with how he was able to transition into his new career.
“The transition was flawless,” said Thompson. “My Local union and employer both made contact with me before I even moved back to Pennsylvania and really worked with me on understanding the difficulties of transitioning.”
Upon graduating from the VIP Program and transitioning out of the military, guaranteed job placement with a UA signatory contractor awaits the service members. While these contractors are experiencing a need for new tradesmen and tradeswomen, the VIP Program is the perfect way to fill some of these openings with industry-trained workers.
Thompson is now encouraging other active-duty service members to look into the program and how it can help them.
“If you have any interest in the pipe trades or joining a local union after transitioning, this is the perfect program. I am so grateful to have been accepted into this program and been able to take advantage of the free training in this course,” Thompson said. “I think this program is a hidden gem that more people in the military should know about.”
In addition to being guaranteed job placement with a UA contractor, VIP graduates also gain direct entry into the five-year, UA registered apprenticeship program. While apprentices, VIP graduates continue building their skills and work towards becoming journeymen. While training on-the-job and in the classroom, apprentices earn scheduled pay raises. Once they turn out as journeymen, VIP graduates are encouraged to continue training at their local training facility.
These careers are highly beneficial to veterans as they provide a family-supporting wage and benefits such as family health insurance and retirement benefits like a 401k and pension. They also allow veterans to continue working in a physical, team setting.
To learn more about the VIP Program at Naval Station Norfolk, please click here.
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Video and Photo Gallery
Take a look at everything the VIP program is doing for our returning veterans — through videos and photos.
Pipefitters Local 455, St. Paul, MN, Apprentice David Adams (VIP graduate, Wisconsin Welding Class 2) is pictured on the job working for Pioneer Piping, Incorporated (PPI) at the Flint Hills Refinery in MN.
Camp Pendleton VIP Graduate turned out as Journeyman and makes a life in Butte, MT, with Local 41.
Orry graduated on April 9, 2015 and affiliated with UA Local 455, St. Paul, MN.
Sgt. Jerry Heneha, A Battery, 1st Battalion, 31st Field Artillery, puts together a valve system in preparation for his final week of the United Association's Veterans in Piping program at the Industrial Training Complex Photo Credit: Ms. Marie Berberea (TRADOC)
Fort Sill's inaugural Sprinkler Fitter class began on 2 March 2015.
SFC Michael Olsen and 1SG William Davidson presented their instructors Louis Purcella and Micah Tyler with a momentum from the class.
SGT Howard Nash is headed to Harrisburg, PA, to affiliate with Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 520.
Gail Pilecki was so proud of her son, SGT Jeremy Pilecki, on graduation day. SGT Pilecki will make his home in Houston, affiliating with Pipefitters Local 211.
1SG William Davidson gave the graduate testimonial. He will remain with his family in Waco, TX, affiliating with Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 529 in Waco, TX.
SFC Michael Olsen and his wife, Amanda, will remain in the area, affiliating with Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 529 in Waco, TX.
Alysa and SPC Chad Eberle will be heading to San Antonio, TX, with Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 142.
SGT Lawrence Beller, his wife, Brittney, and daughter, Nahla, will be making Houston, TX, their home, affiliating with Pipefitters Local 211.
Mouse over thumbnails to view larger videos and photos or view entire Gallery.