The first half of 2019 was a busy time for the SMART Heroes program, located at Western Washington Sheet Metal near Seattle. The program graduated 39 new sheet metal apprentices during three seven-week sessions, helping them to successfully transition from military life to a civilian career.

February graduates represent the ranks of the Air Force and Army and included Senior Airman Jason Brown, Air Force; Spc. Dallas Carr, Army; Staff Sgt. Denmark Concepcion, Army; Sgt. Francisco Crisostomo, Army; Spc. Todd East, Army; Spc. Jesse Foutz, Army; Staff Sgt. Philip Hamel, Army; Spc. Aarek Jamison, Army; Airman 1st Class Neil Linton, Air Force; Sgt. 1st Class Doug Meyers, Army; Sgt. G. Nathan Miller, Army; Spc. Daniel Moore, Army; Staff Sgt. Eduardo Proctor, Army; Spc. Roy Rosemond, Army; and Sgt. Alec Souza, Army.
April graduates represent the ranks of the Air Force, Army and Navy and included Sgt. 1st Class Arnelle Aguada, Army; Staff Sgt. Brady Cook, Air Force; Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Jewel DeLosSantos, Navy/Marines veteran; Pvt. 1st Class Brandin Hutchins, Army veteran; Sgt. Hunter Mauracooper, Army; Spc. Wayne Pave, Army; Pvt. 1st Class Vaisigano Toaiva, Army; Sgt. Arnold Valeriano, Army; and Sgt. Albert Vega, Army.
June graduates represent the ranks of the Army and Marine Corps and included Sgt. Jake Anthony, Army; Sgt. Charles Buckley, Army; Maj. Riley Coffey, Army; Cpl. John Cuevas, Army; Spc. Charles Dixon, Army; Staff Sgt. Joel Guevarra, Marine Corps; Spc. Matthew Halbin, Army; Sgt. 1st Class Benji Israel, Army; Spc. Trung Lai, Army; Brandon Lambert, Army; Spc. Jackson Njaru, Army; Spc. Justin Steen, Army; Sgt. Joshua Stevens, Army; Spc. Sean Thompson, Army; and Spc. Gustavo Tijerino, Army.

The International Training Institute (ITI), the education arm of the unionized sheet metal, air conditioning and welding industry, provides curriculum for the program and its trustees approved a second location for the SMART Heroes program at the Colorado Sheet Metal training center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The program launched on Aug. 19 in cooperation with Fort CarsonSMART, the International Association of Sheet Metal Air, Rail and Transportation Workers; Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA), and Helmets to Hardhats and will follow the same guidelines as the inaugural program.

The first class in Colorado Springs is set to graduate Oct. 7. The program is funded by the SMART Heroes Foundation.

“We are thankful to our trustees for approving a second location, which gives us the opportunity to assist more active military and veterans with their transition to civilian life,” said James Page, ITI administrator and SMART Heroes Foundation administrator.

In order to graduate, veterans 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 148-plus 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.

Launched in August 2017, the SMART Heroes program was established to provide free sheet metal industry training to enlisted 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. Adjacent to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, the Western Washington Sheet Metal training center seemed the ideal host for the inaugural SMART Heroes class.

For additional information on SMART Heroes, visit or call the International Training Institute at 703-739-7200.

Originally posted on Eye on Sheet Metal.