Veterans look forward to construction careers

CAMP PENDLETON, CALIF. — A class of service members completed the United Association’s Veterans in Piping (VIP) program at the Marine Corps Base here and will graduate as second-year union apprentices this June.

The United Association VIP program is a 720-hour training course, developed to assist members of the military in transitioning to civilian life and careers after military service.

The UA has outfitted two mobile training units at Camp Pendleton where the graduating class of Marines received 16 weeks of accelerated welding instruction, including two weeks of career and lifestyle transitioning.

According to Mike Arndt, training director of the UA, the UA VIP program will create lifelong career opportunities for these dedicated veterans.

“Camp Pendleton thought this pilot program was a great opportunity to assist our Marines transitioning to civilian life after their successful military service,” said Brian Ballard, operations officer of Marine and Family Services at Camp Pendleton. “Marines who are mechanically inclined and desire to be a certified tradesperson are great candidates for this program.”

“The best aspect of the program is the way it captures your individual ideas and abilities,” said Marine Corps Sgt. Alan A. Nelson, a participant in the UA program. “Over the past four years, I have grown tremendously. I would not be the man I am today without the fantastic mentors the Marine Corps has provided.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the construction field will need to attract 240,000 workers each year to replace those retiring or leaving the workforce. Statistics also reveal that 450,000 welders will be needed nationwide by 2014.

A second class at Camp Pendleton is currently in progress, and, in Washington, a second class is also ready to graduate.

“The UA VIP Program is the right thing to do,” said UA General President William Hite, “since these service members have given so much to their country.”