Marine Veterans Train For New Careers In Construction

On June 30, 2009, a class of service members at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton graduated into new careers in the construction industry. They have completed the United Association’s Veterans In Piping (VIP) Program, and were recognized at a graduation ceremony aboard the base.

The United Association (UA) VIP Program is a 720-hour training course, developed to assist members of the military in transitioning to civilian life and careers after their successful military service. Camp Pendleton’s participants in the UA Program will graduate as second-year union apprentices.

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, Marine and Family Services, 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 Sergeant Alan A. Nelson, 22, a participant in the UA Program. He added that his time in the military has given him skills that will help him in this new career direction. “Over the past four years, I have grown tremendously,” he said. “I would not be the man I am today without the fantastic mentors the Marine Corps has provided.”

How the Program Will Help America

Service members coming home from the Middle East and transitioning out of the military have to reestablish every aspect of their lives – including new careers.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that the average construction worker is 47 years old, and the construction field will need to attract 240,000 workers each year to replace those retiring or leaving the workforce. BLS statistics also reveal that 450,000 welders will be needed nationwide by 2014.

Today’s returning service members should be given the opportunity to become the welders of tomorrow. That is why William P. Hite, General President of the UA, started the UA VIP Program. The program began in the state of Washington in late 2008.

The first class of service at Camp Pendleton was so successful, that a second class is currently in progress. In Washington, a second class is also ready to graduate.

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

The full name of the UA is the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing, Pipefitting, Sprinkler Fitting Industry of the U.S. and Canada.

Work performed by UA members includes construction, renovation, expansion and repair of facilities. They install systems, plumbing fixtures, heating, air conditioning and ventilation systems.


For more information on the UA VIP Program, visit 

Sergeant Matt Phair, USMC

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