SMART Heroes graduates standing together for a picture.

SMART Heroes graduated seven active-duty members of the United States Army and one veteran from its program Dec. 3 at the training center of Sheet Metal Workers Local 9, 1420 Quail Lake Loop in Colorado Springs. In order to graduate, service members completed a seven-week course at the center to earn the equivalent of their first-year sheet metal apprentice training (224 hours).

The graduates represent the ranks of the Army and include Abraham Ibanez, veteran; Sgt. Zachary Shinkle; Sgt. Travis Stockmyer; Sgt. Elijah Mullins; Spc. Adria’n Resto-Vela’zquez; Sgt. Issiaka Sione; Staff Sgt. Darius Doctor; and Sgt. Ryan Tyler Rivera.

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; Randy Mitchell, Local 9 business representative; Greg Daniels, SMART Heroes instructor; Darrell Roberts, SMART director of organizing; Roy Jensen, president of operations for Mech-One; and Nathan Dills, SMACNA past president.

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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