SMART Heroes program welcomes eight U.S. Army graduates

Eight active-duty soldiers in the U.S. Army graduated the SMART Heroes program at the Western Washington location Monday, May 22, at 2725 Williamson Place, in DuPont.

This 34th class of SMART Heroes included Sfc. Joey Drinka, Sgt. Matthew Rust, Spc. Paul Myers, Sgt. William Cole, Staff Sgt. Ryan Smith, Staff Sgt. Brandon Escobar, Spc. Jamar Edwards and Sgt. Brandon Clifton.

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 civilian career once they’re discharged from the military.

In order to graduate, participants completed the seven-week course, equivalent to their first-year sheet metal apprentice training (224 hours). Upon discharge from service, these graduates may choose to enter any of the 148 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.

Featured speakers during the graduation included Josh Moore, ITI field representative and SMART Heroes specialist; Lance Deyette, business agent of Sheet Metal Workers Local 66; Kenny Branson, SMACNA Western Washington; and Brian Walter, business representative for Sheet Metal Workers Local 55.

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, developed the program in collaboration with Sheet Metal Workers Local 66, SMACNA Western Washington, and Western Washington Sheet Metal training center.

Launched in August 2017 in Washington, 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 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.

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