Using aviation to help veterans adjust to civilian life

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One Alaska veteran believes aviation can give other veterans a chance at a new life and help stem the tragic suicide rate among his peers.

“Only one in four veterans say they had a civilian job lined up after they left the military,” said Kyle Kaiser, an Alaska-based U.S. Army veteran and president of VIPER Transitions (Veteran Internships Providing Employment Readiness). “People usually identify themselves according to the role they play in society. With an average of 200,000 veterans transitioning out of the military each year, approximately 150,000 exit unemployed. The fear of being ‘unqualified’ and incapable of achieving victory is manifested in unemployment, underemployment, and possibly homelessness.”

These emotions may contribute to the fact that an average of 17 veterans take their lives each day, according to a recent Department of Veterans Affairs study.

VIPER is looking to change that and help alleviate the shortage of A&P technicians. A recent Boeing study suggested that about 739,000 maintenance technicians worldwide will be needed to service the world’s commercial fleet over the next 20 years. 

VIPER’s purpose is to train and guarantee employment/career placement to veterans and military spouses. It assists applicants in career path decisions and coordinates placement in the program of their choice. VIPER “redefines what it means to transition,” according to the group’s website.

The organization is in the process of launching the VIPER Aviation Maintenance Program, working with the FAA, the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association, the Aeronautical Repair Station Association, and other groups on its design. The program would take veterans and spouses interested in aviation maintenance, provide the necessary training and industry contacts, and support processing with potential employers.

Kaiser began his efforts to help veterans and military spouses in 2017 through partnering with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the National Electrical Contractors Association to create the Veterans Electrical Entry Program (VEEP). Since starting VEEP, the group has expanded to other construction trades and industries: ironworkers; sheet metal workers; plumber pipe fitters; mechanics; medical lab technicians; and now, aviation technicians. VIPER ensures compliance on both sides as its business partners sign contracts with applicants that specify details of employment and required training needed for any position. The VIPER applicant then attends training to gain the necessary credentials for the chosen career.

Along with the A&P program, VIPER uses aviation in other ways to help veterans deal with acute stress that is often linked to unsuccessful transitions:


This post was originally published by AOPA on . Please visit the original post to read the complete article.

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