Fourteenth class is first to include members of all U.S. military branches
Nine members of the United States military and six veterans graduated as the 14th class of the SMART Heroes program Dec. 16 at the Western Washington Sheet Metal training center, at 2725 Williamson Place, Suite 100, in DuPont, Washington.
For the first time, graduates represented the ranks of all United States military branches —Army, Air Force, Navy, U.S. Coast Guard and Marines. They are Sgt. 1st Class Elisa Baty, Army; Spc. Joseph Bonilla-Wier, Army veteran; Cpl./Spc. Brent Cook, Marines; Spc. Christopher DeVay, Army; Sgt. Miguel Frutos Perez, Army; Petty Officer 3rd Class Donald Gibson, Navy veteran; Sgt. TJ Gruber, Army; Staff Sgt. Karl Klock, Army veteran; Petty Officer 3rd Class Solomon Lockhart, U.S. Coast Guard veteran; Staff Sgt. Shelby Perason, Air Force veteran; Petty Officer 1st Class Matt Pierjok, Army veteran in Jan. 2020; Spc. Diego Plascencia Gomez, Army veteran; Chief Warrant Officer 3 Luq Sanders, Army; Sgt. Spencer Shriver, Army; and Spc. Stephen Swanson, 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; Tim Carter, business manager, SMART Local 66; and Tom Montgomery, SMACNA Western Washington. 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 www.smart-heroes.org or call the International Training Institute at 703-739-7200.