UA VIP Program ‘Provides Marine A Smooth Transition’ To Civilian Career
For U.S. Marine Sgt. Rachel Lablance, the United Association Veterans in Piping (VIP) Program set her up with a turn-key civilian career that made transitioning out of the military an easy process.
“The UA VIP Program set me up with the skills and training I needed from day one from my transition out of the Marine Corps,” Lablance said. “The program prepared me for a career with the UA and made the transition out of the military very smooth.”
Lablance began Camp Lejeune’s Accelerated Welding Class 5 in 2016.
She trained for 18-weeks alongside an experienced Journeyman Instructor through a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on experience, learning basic welding skills, as well as industry recognized certifications that propelled her progress in her civilian career.
“I had everything completed that was required of me, plus eight welding certifications prior to showing up to my Local,” Lablance explained.
The UA VIP program is a Career Skills Program (CSP) that prepares transitioning Active Duty Service Members for a career in the Pipe Trades.
It provides a guaranteed job after the military through a UA Registered Apprenticeship.
“The UA VIP prepares you while you are still on active duty,” Lablance said. “It basically made it to where I transitioned from one mission to another with no down time at all.”
The UA VIP Program offers training in welding, HVACR and fire sprinkler fitting at select military bases across the country.
After she completed her UA VIP training and transitioned out of the military, Lablance began a UA Registered Apprenticeship through Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 101 in Mascoutah, Illinois, where she immediately began working.
She earned good Union pay and quickly became eligible for quality health care for her family.
She also began earning a pension and a 401K for her retirement.
As she progressed through her training and expanded her skillset, she received annual raises.
Lablance, who turned out as a Journeyman in 2020, now works for Hayes Mechanical, performing main steam piping, demolition, fiberglass pipe work and maintenance crew work.
Last Labor Day, Lablance got to represent the UA VIP Program, the UA and the Building Trades at an event at the White House where she got to meet President Joe Biden and shake his hand - an experience she described as “surreal.”
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