Canvass any group of truck drivers or truck technicians – be they freight haulers, dump truck operators, diesel engine repair specialists, you name it – and you’re going to find a large passel of military veterans among them, though not nearly in the numbers once experienced.
For nearly two generations now, no American has been obligated to join up and serve in the military – and, unsurprisingly, few do so now. In fact, less than 0.5% of the U.S. population today serves in the armed forces, compared with more than 12% during World War II.
Yet when it comes to driving and repairing trucks, the skill set possessed by military veterans dovetails nicely with the needs of the trucking industry – being “mission-oriented,” working in all kinds of terrain and weather conditions, knowing how to train and be trained, etc.
[Those characteristics and more were exemplified in this story penned by my colleague Aaron March last year.]
“In our armed forces, our service men and women routinely display character, commitment and other qualities our members tell us they look for when they are hiring drivers, technicians and other staff,” noted Chris Spear, the newly-installed president and CEO of the American Trucking Associations (ATA) trade group, in a statement.
“Our industry is continually facing a shortage of qualified drivers and technicians,” added Kevin Burch, president of Jet Express and recently-elected chairman for ATA.
“Many trucking companies have found that by recruiting and reaching out to our veterans, through programs like Hiring Our Heroes, they can not only hire well-qualified, dedicated employees, but help these incredible men and women transition back to civilian life,” he said
Spear also noted that new rules are in place to allow veterans with driving experience in the service to waive the licensing skills test to obtain a civilian commercial driver’s license (CDL) and to take CDL tests where they’re stationed, rather than in their home state – all making the process of becoming a driver far simpler.
Baylor Trucking Inc. is one that that established a “Veteran's Recognition Program” in that regard and just recently announced a pay increase for its workers – drivers and office staff alike – who have served in the U.S. armed forces. Over-the-road drivers at Baylor with military service get a penny more per mile, with local Baylor drivers with military experience getting a $1 per hour pay increase, while Baylor office associates who served get a 1% salary increase.
That pay increase is expected to provide an additional $50,000 to military veterans at Baylor, with additional earnings for new hires, noted Cari Baylor, the carrier’s president in a statement.
"For the sacrifices these brave men and women have made for our country, this program is another way our company can say thank you," she added.
Baylor also noted that her company’s Veteran's Recognition Program also provides specially wrapped trucks decorated with the U.S. flag, the Constitution and patriotic themes to company drivers with a military background, with veterans returning from recent deployments provided specialized training to further develop their truck driving career.
Good stuff that the trucking industry brings aside from the freight transport and work capability its vehicles provide to keep U.S. economy rolling.