SMART Heroes graduate and Local 100 member Giann Salicrup greets SMART GP Joseph Sellers
On November 7, SMART welcomed representatives from the U.S. Department of Labor, Pfizer, PhRMA, the Ironworkers and SMART veterans from multiple branches of the United States military for a celebration of SMART Heroes — a partnership between SMART, SMACNA, Helmets to Hardhats and the International Training Institute that provides seven weeks of sheet metal industry training (equivalent to the first year of apprenticeship training) to active-duty U.S. military members and recent veterans.
As part of the event, current reservist, SMART Heroes graduate and SMART Local 100 (Washington, DC area) second-year apprentice Giann Salicrup presented a Squad Level Sponsor award and a Company Level Sponsor award to PhRMA President and Chief Executive Officer Stephen Ubl and Pfizer Director of Government Relations Jim DeMay, respectively; a recognition of both organizations’ generous financial support for SMART Heroes.
“What a great marriage this is, in terms of military servicemembers matriculating into apprenticeship programs,” said Ubl when accepting his award. “Congratulations on this great program — we are proud to support it.”
“Not only does SMART Heroes afford servicemembers the chance to enter into an apprenticeship program with advanced placement, it’s giving that transitioning soldier a sense of security — a real job, a real career with benefits, retirement security, the ability to sustain their family.”
The event kicked off with remarks from SMART General President Joseph Sellers, who pointed out how programs like SMART Heroes provide a sense of stability not just for servicemembers and veterans, but for their families as well.
“When soldiers are transitioning out of the service, they’re not sure what to expect, where they’re going — do I have a job, will I have healthcare, will I be able to support my family?” Sellers said. “Not only does SMART Heroes afford servicemembers the chance to enter into an apprenticeship program with advanced placement, it’s giving that transitioning soldier a sense of security — a real job, a real career with benefits, retirement security, the ability to sustain their family.”
The Honorable James D. Rodriguez, assistant secretary for the Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service, echoed Sellers’ point about the importance of programs like SMART Heroes for the spouses and families of veterans. He also emphasized the Department of Labor’s commitment to partnering with unions to help servicemembers and veterans transition into the workforce.
“It’s a natural fit to want to go to an organization where servicemembers have a sense of camaraderie, teamwork, mission,” Rodriguez remarked. “We know that our veterans who participate in apprenticeship programs have financial security.”
“I’m just happy to be here, to be able to do this work with you all,” he added.
Other speakers included Eric Dean, president of the Ironworkers; Martin Helms, executive director of Helmets to Hardhats; and Michael Harris, administrator of the International Training Institute. Harris noted that the SMART Heroes program is approaching its fifth year of existence and is already nearing the 500-graduate benchmark — a remarkable achievement. Helms, meanwhile, explained that programs like SMART Heroes and Helmets to Hardhats really have one mission: “To change veterans’ lives. Making sure young individuals like Giann here have the opportunity to transition to these life-changing careers.”
SMART Director of Organizing Darrell Roberts, himself a veteran, concluded the event by thanking the attendees and praising the cooperation of all parties involved.
“It takes a village, and you’re all part of our village, so thank you very much,” he declared.