Sheet metal apprenticeship welcomes SMART Heroes graduates

Fourteen service members completed program, begin new career in trades

Twelve members of the United States military and two veterans graduated as the 13th class of the SMART Heroes program Oct. 14 at the Western Washington Sheet Metal training center, at 2725 Williamson Place, Suite 100, in DuPont, Washington.

Graduates represent the ranks of the Army and Air Force and included Spc. Rocio Fernandez, Army; Sgt. Eli Fuller, Army; Sgt. Dominick Gongwer, Army; Cpl. Jonathan Hansen, Army Reserves; Spc. Matthew Hekman, Army; Spc. Angel Landeros, Army; Staff Sgt. Jacob Mallett, Army; Senior Airman Trevor Mingus, Air Force; Spc. William Peach, Army; Spc. Kaleb Ross, Army; Sgt. Steve Saloeun, Army; Sgt. 1st Class Ronald Toole, Army; Spc. Stephen Torrijas, Army; and Spc. Nickolas Toussaint, Army.

In order to graduate, participants completed a seven-week course to earn the equivalent of their first-year sheet metal apprentice training (224 hours). Upon discharge from service, these graduates may choose to enter any of the 148 Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) apprenticeship programs in the United States and be provided direct entry and advanced placement as a second-year sheet metal apprentice, including a high probability of obtaining second-year apprentice wages and benefits.

Dignitaries in attendance at the graduation included Mike Courts, Dupont city mayor; William Noland, Joint Base Lewis-McChord; and James Page, administrator of the International Training Institute (ITI). The ITI, together with the International Association of SMART and Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA), created the program in collaboration with SMART Local 66, SMACNA Western Washington, Western Washington Sheet Metal training center and Helmets to Hardhats.

Launched in August 2017, the SMART Heroes program was established to provide free sheet metal industry training to enlisted U.S. Military men and women who plan to enter the civilian life within the year, thereby assisting in a successful transition into the civilian workforce.

For additional information on SMART Heroes, visit or call the International Training Institute at 703-739-7200.