Second SMART Heroes program set for Colorado

Partnership between sheet metal union, Fort Carson puts veterans to work

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – SMART Heroes, a program established to help soon-to-be or recent military veterans transition into a sheet metal career in the civilian world, began classes Aug. 20 at Sheet Metal Workers Local 9 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. In conjunction with Fort Carson, SMART Heroes educates participants during a seven-week course equivalent to their first-year sheet metal apprentice training (224 hours).

Upon graduation and honorable discharge from service, graduates may choose to enter any of the 148 apprenticeship programs in the United States and be provided direct entry and advanced placements as a second-year sheet metal apprentice, which includes obtaining second-year apprentice wages and benefits.

Graduation is set for Monday, Oct. 7 at Local 9, located at 1420 Quail Lake Loop, in Colorado Springs.

The class will be led by instructor Ron Shenberger, a U.S. Army veteran who has been a member of the International Association of Sheet Metal Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) for 15 years.

“We already have a large percentage of veterans at Local 9. I think the SMART Heroes program shows our service members there are people on the civilian side who value what veterans have to offer an employer,” said Shenberger. “Making the transition from military life can be daunting. This program gives them an opportunity to start a career as a union sheet metal worker, earning good wages and benefits.”

Originally launched in 2017 in Dupont, Washington near Seattle, SMART Heroes was established to provide free sheet metal industry training to enlisted U.S. military men and women who plan to enter civilian life within the year, thereby assisting in a successful transition into the civilian workforce. Colorado Springs marks the second location for the SMART Heroes program.

“Military veterans have always had the qualities we look for in apprentices, including work ethic, maturity and discipline,” said James Page, administrator of the International Training Institute (ITI), which co-founded the program. “The brotherhood and sisterhood of the military, along with the skills they acquired during their service, is the perfect fit for a union career. It’s an honor to assist these U.S. heroes as they transition to civilian life. We are lucky to have them.”

SMART Heroes was established at Local 9 in collaboration with SMART, Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA), in collaboration with Fort Carson and Helmets to Hardhats.

Funding for the program is supported by the SMART Heroes Foundation, a nonprofit, independent organization administered by members of SMART and SMACNA. Donors include companies of all sizes, inside and outside the trade, individuals and organizations. Additional information can be found at

Curriculum for the SMART Heroes program is provided by the ITI, the education arm of the unionized sheet metal, air conditioning and welding industry. Jointly sponsored by SMART and SMACNA, the ITI supports the apprenticeship of more than 14,000 students registered at 148 training facilities across the United States and Canada.

In addition to apprenticeship, the ITI supports advanced career training for union workers in the sheet metal heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC), welding and industrial, architectural and ornamental, and service and testing, adjusting and balancing industry throughout the United States and Canada. Headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia, the ITI develops and produces a standardized sheet metal curriculum supported by a wide variety of training materials free of charge to sheet metal apprentices and journey men and women.

For more information about the ITI and its available training curriculum for members covering sheet metal trade work, visit the website or call 703-739-7200.

Originally posted on Eye on Sheet Metal.