U.S. veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan may have a career waiting for them when they get home. The United Association of Plumbing and Pipefitters recently launched its VIP program, which stands for Veterans in Piping.

I spoke with Anne St. Eloi, who has been in charge of spearheading the VIP program. The way it works is simple. U.S. veterans can apply for the program. When they are accepted, they go through several weeks of training in welding and pipefitting. If they pass through the course, they will be placed in a paid apprenticeship program. The VIP program is completely paid through the United Association’s training fund.

According to St. Eloi, the program is beneficial to both members of the United Association and to the men and women returning to civilian life. In fact, St. Eloi said that many U.S. veterans have difficulty finding jobs when they return from their combat missions. This seemed contradictory to everything I’d ever heard. I thought most employers would jump at the chance to have a veteran work for them. But not so. St. Eloi said that some veterans don’t know how to transition from a military mindset to a civilian mindset. So while they are reliable and hardworking, they may not have the proper communication skills or interviewing skills to land the job they want. With this in mind, the VIP program begins with two weeks of training that is based solely on helping military veterans transition to civilian life.

The program seems like a win-win situation for everyone. Troops retuning home have career options and companies have potential employees.

St. Eloi said that the VIP program has been successful so far, and representatives are working on a heating and air-conditioning component that would work in the same way. This seems like a great way to help the men and women who have chosen to serve our country. It’s also a great way to get more young people in the trades. Have any of you hired veterans at your company? How has it worked out? Share your stories. I’d love to hear them.