Army members graduate from SMART Heroes, celebrate 40th class of program

Two active-duty members of the U.S. Army graduated from the SMART Heroes program at the Western Washington location Monday, March 25, at 2725 Williamson Place, in DuPont. This graduation marked the 40th class to participate in the program since its inception in 2017.

Graduates of this most recent class included Spc. Nikolas Selser and Sgt. Joshua Hiatt.

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; Devin Leingang, SMART Local 66 business manager; and Kenny Branson, SMACNA Western Washington.

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.

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 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 www.smart-heroes.org or by calling the ITI at 703-739-7200.