CAREERops Fort Campbell’s First VIP Female Graduates Report Back 10 “My background in the Army was fiber optics, but then I realized that, like the Army, the UA was giving me an oppor- tunity to learn for free.” – Alyssa Tamayo went through the Veterans in Piping® (VIP®) pro- gram at Fort Campbell in Kentucky and were that program’s first female participants. ey have both since graduated and are affiliated with Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 100 in Dallas, TX, as third-year apprentices. Alyssa was from Las Vegas, NV, and said she originally joined the Army to help pay for school, stating, “My cousin had joined the Air Force, and she was my role model. She definitely influenced my decision to join the Army. I served six and a half years. I heard about the VIP program from another NCO (non-commissioned officer) in my unit. He had gone through the program the year before and loved it. He knew I was on the fence about staying in the Army or transitioning out. He just kept telling me how much fun it was to weld all day. I had never welded before. My background in the Army was fiber optics, but then I realized that, like the Army, the UA was giving me an op- portunity to learn for free.” Tanya served five years in the Army in small arms and artillery repair. She remembers learning about the program through the Soldier for Life program. She also had no welding experience. Both women were looking for a viable career with good benefits. She was originally from the Dallas area, so when the opportunity arose to affiliate with Local 100 in Dallas, she was onboard. Alyssa followed. Tanya said, “Learning to weld was a struggle at first—finding the ‘puddle’—but once you found it, you were all set. With welding, you first have to figure out what the ‘puddle’ is, and then you have to figure out how to maintain the consis- tency throughout.” Alyssa added, “Finding a rhythm is key.” Alyssa and Tanya are working for Dynamic Systems, Inc., on the Fountain Place project in downtown Dallas. e project encompasses retail space and under- ground parking. Even though they are working for the same contractor, it was the first job they have worked on together since they graduated from the program. rough the apprenticeship program, they have also chosen different career paths since leaving the program. Alyssa wears glasses and felt that she just didn’t see well enough to be a good welder, so she has changed her focus to plumbing, which she really enjoys. Tanya loves welding and will continue to finish out her apprenticeship as a welder/pipefitter jour- neyperson. She said, “I love working with my hands. I’m happy with the decision I made. I love doing this. Someday, I would like to run work, be a superintendent.” Regarding the ease of her transition, Alyssa said, “Transitioning has its own reality too. It sounds funny, but just buying my own clothing was an issue originally. When you’re in the Army, every- thing is provided for you, so that’s always a big wakeup call. I also went from a desk job to a very physical job, and I can tell you, I’m exhausted at Tanya P eddy Alyssa Tamayo and Tanya Peddy (continued on page 14)