Soldiers graduate from SMART Heroes program, first step to civilian life

Local 9 Graduates January 2024

Eight active-duty members of the U.S. Army graduated from the SMART Heroes program Friday, Jan. 19, at the Colorado location, 1420 Quail Lake Loop in Colorado Springs.

Each of the graduates completed a seven-week course at the center to earn the equivalent of their first-year sheet metal apprentice training (224 hours), paving their way for a rewarding career after military service.

Graduates included Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Rackley, Staff Sgt. Lukas Ford, Staff Sgt. Wesley Clinton Langskov, Sgt. Gavin M. Weekly, Sgt. Daniel Jerbi, Spc. Joshua Zavala Hernandez, Spc. Elijah Hussey and Spc. Esdrick Joshua Layne.

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 Jeff Martin of the Murphy Company; Josh Moore, International Training Institute (ITI) field representative/SMART Heroes specialist; and Greg Daniels, SMART Heroes instructor.

The curriculum for the SMART Heroes program was created by the ITI, the education arm of the unionized sheet metal, air conditioning and welding industry. The ITI, together with SMART and Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (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, 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 and recent veterans, thereby assisting in a successful transition into the civilian workforce. The second location in Colorado Springs began offering the same training in August 2019.

Additional information on the SMART Heroes program can be found at or by calling the International Training Institute at 703-739-7200.