SMART Heroes graduated nine veterans of the United States Army and one Air Force veteran from its program Friday, Oct. 1, at Fort Carson’s Freedom Performing Arts Center, 1129 Specker Ave. in Colorado Springs. In order to graduate, service members completed a seven-week course at Sheet Metal Workers Local 9 in Colorado Springs to earn the equivalent of their first-year sheet metal apprentice training (224 hours).

The graduates represent veterans from the ranks of the Army and Air Force and include Spc. Tyler Daley, Army; Spc. Wyatt Fulton, Army; 1st Sgt. Quentin Helland, Army; Sgt. Tristin Houghtaling, Army; Master Sgt. Lewin Lall, Army; Spc. Daniel Morley, Army; Sgt. Alexander Nichols, Army; Senior Airman Zach Saluga, Air Force; Spc. John Severe, Army; and Sgt. Carlos Walker, Army.

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; Jon Alvino, business manager, SMART Local 9; Mike Webb, director of human resources, U.S. Army Fort Carson Garrison; and Greg Daniels, SMART Heroes instructor.

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 the 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 active-duty U.S. military men and women who plan to enter the civilian life within the year, thereby assisting in a successful transition into the civilian workforce. The second location in Colorado Springs began offering the same training in August 2019.

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