SMART Army of Volunteers Lend their Skills to Help Racine Area Veterans

Check out this great story of SMART Local 18 union members giving back to the local community. Originally posted on the WI AFL-CIO Blog. 

On February 7, 2020, volunteers with the “SMART Army” of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) Local 18 brought their skills and expertise to the Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin complex in Racine. SMART Army Local 18 members volunteered to replace a furnace in one of the buildings. The Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin assists homeless and at-risk veterans with food, clothing, shelter, counseling, and other services. The SMART Army gets active in our local communities to forge new partnerships and strengthen existing coalitions.

“As a Marine Corps combat veteran from Desert Storm, I am honored that our SMART Army activation network brought together SMART union brothers who have served our country to give back to our local veterans,” said Stu Wilson, SMART Local 18 Business Representative from Milwaukee Area 5. “By utilizing our skills and connections as union Sheet Metal Workers and donating our time, we were able to help local veterans with needed furnace replacements at the Wisconsin Veterans Outreach of Racine.”

Members of the SMART Army who volunteered their time and expertise on the February 2020 Project at the Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin in Racine include:

  • Chris Witt, SMART Local 18 member and Superintendent at Just Mechanical. Army Combat veteran from the Iraqi War.
  • Ryan Flores, 5th year SMART Local 18 Apprentice. Marine Corps veteran who served in Afghanistan.
  • Zach Coombs, 5th year SMART Local 18 Apprentice.
  • Stu Wilson, SMART Local 18 Business Representative. Marine Corps veteran, Desert Storm.

Smart1 (2)Tim DeGarmoJust Mechanical Service Manager and a Navy veteran, worked with an area wholesaler to secure a furnace for a very reduced rate. Just Mechanical generously donated the metal for the sheet metal fittings required to tie the furnace to the existing ductwork and were an integral part of this project.

“Without the efforts of good SMART Army members like Chris Witt, Zach Coombs and Ryan Flores – and the help of Just Mechanical -- the Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin would have had to use funds to pay a contractor to do the replacement of the old equipment,” continued Wilson.  “Since Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin is a non-profit, the funds they saved because of this SMART Army project can go directly towards helping veterans in our community. This is a great thing.”

“Our veteran SMART Local 18 members did an outstanding job representing our Local, the labor movement and our SMART Army,” said Mike Mooney, President/Business Manager of SMART Local 18. “Our SMART Army seeks to connect our members to the community. SMART members are here to help. We are honored to use our skills to support the great mission of the Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin.”

“Every day union members donate time and skills to give back to our local communities,” said Stephanie Bloomingdale, President of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO. “The recent SMART Army Local 18 project in Racine that ensures our local veterans stay warm in the Wisconsin winter is a great example of union members using our know-how and resources to assist those in a time of need.”

Smart3 (2)


SMART, the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, is one of North America’s most dynamic and diverse unions with 203,000 members. SMART’s members ensure the quality of the air we breathe, promote energy efficiency, produce and provide the vital services that move products to market and passengers to their destinations. Members are sheet metal workers, service technicians, bus operators, engineers, conductors, sign workers, welders, production employees and more.