Active-duty service members take first step into civilian life

SMART Heroes graduates 22nd class of new sheet metal apprentices

Seven active members of the United States military and one veteran graduated as the 22nd class of the SMART Heroes program’s Western Washington location Monday, June 14, at 2725 Williamson Place, in DuPont.

The graduates represented the ranks of the United States Air Force and Army and include Sgt. Codey Herman, Army; Spc. Tanner Knudtson, Army veteran; Master Sgt. Daniel Noone, Air Force; Sgt. 1st Class Moises Padilla, Army; Senior Airman Anthony Mongelli, Air Force; Sgt. 1st Class Patrick Snider, Army; Staff Sgt. Jason Bemis, Army; and Sgt. Kenny Ibarra, Army.

The program — created by the International Training Institute (ITI), the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation (SMART) workers and the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA) — helps participants learn a new skill set, which can lead to a new career once they’re out of the military.

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 more than 140 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.

The curriculum for the SMART Heroes program was created by the ITI, the education arm of the unionized air conditioning and welding industry. The ITI, together with SMART and SMACNA, created the program in collaboration with Sheet Metal Workers Local 66, SMACNA Western WashingtonWestern Washington Sheet Metal training center and Helmets to Hardhats.

Featured speakers included Dan McCallum, executive director of the ITI, the National Energy Management Institute Committee (NEMIC) and Sheet Metal Occupational Health Institute Trust (SMOHIT); Lance Deyette, business manager, Sheet Metal Workers Local 66; and Chris Gourley from Local 66.

The first SMART Heroes program was launched in August 2017 in Washington and was established to provide free sheet metal industry training to active duty 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. The second location in Colorado Springs began offering the same training in August 2019.