The SMART Heroes program launched in August 2017 in Western Washington to provide free sheet metal industry training to enlisted U.S. military men and women who will be leaving the military and entering the civilian workforce within the year. The second location in Colorado Springs began offering the same training in August 2019.

The SMART Heroes program provides a stepping stone for veterans to find a lifelong career in the unionized sheet metal industry. Once they graduate from SMART Heroes, they can qualify as a second-year apprentice at one of 148 training centers across the country. More than 500 service members and veterans graduated from the SMART Heroes program in the first five years.

Why is this a good move?

You’re leaving the military and you know you’ll need a plan. Instead of searching “jobs for veterans” and finding entry-level work that may not last, look for a career that can last a lifetime, one that builds on the skills you’ve developed in the military. SMART Heroes helps jump-start careers for veterans. Some benefits of becoming an apprentice and journeyperson include:

You’ve probably noticed the similarity between military benefits and those provided by the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation (SMART) workers — that’s where the “smart” in SMART Heroes comes from. Union work, like the military, is among the few career paths offering full retirement benefits, in addition to other rewards of membership.

What will be expected of me?

Show up on time. Learn. Enjoy working with your hands. Work hard. SMART Heroes gives you a taste of sheet metal apprenticeship and journey-level work — what life after the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard could be. Want to be closer to family? Want to relocate where large projects are making a difference or move to a city you’ve always thought about visiting? Once you graduate from SMART Heroes, you can choose from one of 148 training centers across the country to finish up your education.

For more information about what a career in unionized sheet metal looks like, visit the Career Ladder page.