Active duty, veterans graduate from SMART Heroes 20th class

Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps to enter sheet metal apprenticeship

Five active members of the United States military and three veterans graduated as the 20th class of the SMART Heroes program’s Western Washington location Monday, Dec. 14, at 2725 Williamson Place, in DuPont.

The graduates represented the ranks of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, including Sgt. Brandi Armstrong, Army; Senior Airman Dillon Bondy, Air Force; Cpl. Jacob Bruce, Marine Corps (veteran); Senior Airman Pablo Galan, Air Force; Petty Officer 3rd Class Nehemiah Israel, Navy (veteran); Spc. Leah Peltz, Army (veteran); Spc. Robert Rivera, Army (veteran); and Spc. Daniel Tickle, Army.

The program helps participants learn a new skill set, which can lead to a new career once they’re out of the military.

Featured speakers included Joe Sellers, general president of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART); Dan McCallum, fund administrator of the International Training Institute (ITI); Justin Bourgault, business agent of SMART Local 66; and Rylan McKay, MacDonald-Miller.

In order to graduate, participants completed a seven-week course to earn the equivalent of their first-year sheet metal apprentice training (224 hours). Upon discharge from service, these graduates may choose to enter any of the more than 140 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.

The curriculum for the SMART Heroes program was created by the 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, created the program in collaboration with SMART Local 66, SMACNA Western Washington, Western Washington Sheet Metal training center and Helmets to Hardhats.

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, thereby assisting in a successful transition into the civilian workforce. The second location in Colorado Springs began offering the same training in August 2019.