Fort Carson VIP Welding Program that’s run out of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 58 in Colorado Springs, CO. I spent 12 years in the Army as a grunt, six in the 101st, four years in a Ranger Training Battalion, and the last few years at Fort Carson. I was an instructor and a Platoon Sergeant. I didn’t have any welding ex- perience at all before this program,” second-year Local 393, San Jose, CA, apprentice Kristian Miller said. Kristian always thought that he would retire from the Army, but due to back injuries sustained from jumping out of airplanes throughout his Army career, he was medically discharged just six years prior to his retirement eligibility. “I’m not an office person,” he said, “so that wasn’t an option, but when you think you’ll retire from the Army, and then you can’t, it is an adjustment.” He knew he needed to find a second career in order to support his wife and six-year-old son. “I saw an advertisement in the education center,” he said, “and I knew someone who was already in the class, so I went to a briefing with the welding in- structors, Bowie and Aaron, and I thought it sounded cool. I felt fortunate that I got into the program.” Kristian is originally from Kansas, but his wife grew up just south of San Jose, CA, so when it came to picking where they wanted to go aer he graduated from the program, she wanted to head toward her hometown in California. He felt that she had traveled for years wherever the Army sent him, so it was her turn to pick their next move. Kristian couldn’t believe that the program even of- fered options for relocation. “She wanted to head home,” he said, “so we picked the closest spot, which was San Jose, and I checked in with the local union on a Wednesday and had my first job on Fri- day, and I then went to work that Monday. I’ve been working steady for the same company, er- mal Mechanical, for two years, and I like it a lot. “I’ve been doing everything. Even though the program is a welding program, Bowie and Aaron made it very clear that we were train- ing to be pipe- fitters,” Kristian stated. “I would love to do more welding, but I knew there was a lot more to learn than just welding. I’ve been brazing and soldering. I’m not to the point of laying out systems yet, but right now I’m working with the head welder from our shop, and we’re installing a high-pressure steam pipe at Northrup Grum- man. I’ve worked alongside the same journeyman the entire time. It’s a small company, and it’s great.” As an instructor in the Army, Kristian has a sub- stantial respect for the apprenticeship training pro- gram and has enjoyed going to class. He looks at the role of a United Association instructor as a possible career path for himself in the future. “I do believe you have to be 100 percent devoted to the program,” he said. “A strong math base is essential. I had no clue the amount of math involved, but they will help you with that. It can be a challenge, but I’ve been getting help.” e construction industry has been the perfect fit for Kristian, but he stated that he understood the concept of the business before he got into it— the idea that, as each job finishes, there can be lapses before the next one begins. He said, “We live off of my income right now, and bank my wife’s in- come, so if there is any lag time between jobs, we Careerops 8 An Unexpected Discharge Results in the Right Career Choice “I graduated from the Kristian Miller