Colorado SMART Heroes celebrates six graduates from Army

SMART Heroes graduated six active-duty members of the United States Army from its program Friday, May 19, at Sheet Metal Workers Local 9’s training center, 1420 Quail Lake Loop in Colorado Springs.

In order to graduate, Spc. Johnel Peterson, Spc. Michael Bruce, Spc. Jackie Chen, Spc. Alex Becerra, Spc. J.B. Espinoza and Sgt. Corey Hauck completed a seven-week course at the center 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 International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation (SMART) workers 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 ceremony included Joseph Sellers Jr., SMART general president; Nathan Dills, past president of the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA); Jon Alvino, Sheet Metal Workers Local 9 business manager; Darrell Roberts, SMART director of organizing; Greg Daniels, SMART Heroes instructor; and Jeff Martin of Murphy Company Mechanical Contractors and Engineers.

The curriculum for the SMART Heroes program was created by the International Training Institute (ITI), the education arm of the unionized sheet metal, air conditioning and welding industry. The ITI, together with SMART and SMACNA, created the program in collaboration with SMART Local 9 Colorado and its training center, SMACNA Colorado and Helmets to Hardhats.

Launched in August 2017 in Washington, SMART Heroes provides sheet metal industry training through an accelerated seven-week program for active-duty U.S. military men and women and recent veterans who plan to enter civilian life within the year, assisting with their successful transition to the civilian workforce and a satisfying, lifelong career in the sheet metal industry. The second location in Colorado Springs began offering the same training in August 2019.