Career Opportunities in Piping for Transitioning Veterans | Spring/Summer 2018 11 Michael Scherger was getting on with the other journeymen and ap- prentices, he said, “e journeymen treat me well. A lot of them are my age. I ask lots of questions, and they give me straight answers. Every appren- tice and journeyman has really tried to help me.” Antoine feels like he has finally found what he’s always been looking for. Right now, he is concen- trating on turning out as a journeyman pipefit- ter/welder. He will also work toward getting his Master Plumbing License, which is a requirement in Texas, and he will pursue other certifications that will make him the most employable. “Every day is different,” he said. “Between school and the field, you are always learning. ere are so many options to improve yourself and to keep mov- ing forward in this industry. When I found out about the VIP program, I did my research. I knew that pipe welding was a specialized welding skill, and that the job prospects are really good. I’m be- coming more of a builder. I’ve always been hands on, but now I’m learning a trade, and I feel like I can apply it to anything. I know that several years from now, when I drive by e Independent, I will point and say, ‘I had a part in building that.’ at will be the greatest feeling of all.” “Antoine is the fifth VIP graduate I have worked with in this fabrication shop. From Day One, the VIP graduates have very clear priorities. They are here for more than a paycheck. They are here for a career. They generally have a better understanding of how the present can affect the future, and that we are all on the same team—if someone isn’t pulling his or her own weight, it affects everyone. I have found that they are also thankful for the opportunity to have someplace to go and someplace to learn that will carry them for a long time. “The best decision I ever made was to get involved with the local. The stress just disappeared because my skill and time is respected by my employer. My goals for the future involve the local union. I would love to become an instruc- tor one day and teach apprentices.” – Michael Scherger, Local 286, Austin, TX, fourth-generation journeyman, The Porter Company