Finding qualified workers for the U.S. labor market is one of the largest industry issues that exists today.

A qualified candidate requires not only the proper skills but also the professional ethic, maturity and discipline to get the work done. Military veterans already possess these ideal qualities and their skills acquired during their time of service can be easily applied to the work site. As a result, the SMART Heroes program was innovated to capitalize upon these professional qualities by helping U.S. military men and women transition into the civilian workforce. Launched in August 2017, the SMART Heroes program provides free sheet metal industry training to for active-duty U.S. military men and women and recent veterans who plan to enter civilian life within the year, thereby assisting with their successful transition to the civilian workforce!

Nearly 250,000 service members transition out of the armed services every year.

With a demonstrated interest in the building and construction trades, many of these service members register with the Helmets to Hardhats program which provides them with information about the construction trades industry, including the sheet metal industry. The SMART Heroes program was established through a partnership between the International Association of Sheet Metal Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART), Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA), Helmets to Hardhats, the International Training Institute (ITI), SMART Local 66, SMACNA Western Washington, and Western Washington Sheet Metal JATC. This specialized program provides seven weeks of sheet metal industry training (equivalent to the first year of apprenticeship training) to active-duty U.S. military men and women and recent veterans. Upon completion, the graduates have the opportunity for employment at any of 148 apprentice programs in the U.S. and are provided advanced placement as a second-year apprentice.

In 2019, a second location was approved at the Colorado Sheet Metal training center in Colorado Springs, Colorado and the program launched in August. This second location was made possible due to the cooperation between Fort Carson, SMART, SMACNA, and Helmets to Hardhats, and will follow the same guidelines as the inaugural program.


SMART Heroes is registered with Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E). Service members can utilize those benefits when beginning their apprenticeship. Click here for information on how to apply.