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VIP graduate calls program a hidden gem

UA Veterans in Piping - Eddie Thompson

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.”Eddie Thompson

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.