Kenworth Truck Co.
Spec. Charles Bailes gets a feel for sitting in the driver seat of a Kenworth T680 76-inch sleeper during a hiring summit at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) in 2015.

Trucking reaches out on Veterans Day 2023

Nov. 10, 2023
Ever the patriotic industry, U.S. trucking organizations have reached out to military veterans to celebrate their achievements and encourage them to forge new paths in the freight industry.

Military veterans may find the transition back to civilian life challenging, but these trucking companies are committed to providing them with every opportunity possible on this Veterans Day.

See also: Leadership lessons from trucking's military veterans

A Veteran's Guide to Becoming a Truck Driver

Truckstop wrote a blog post outlining the many programs available for veterans who wish to enter the trucking industry.

"Pivoting from the military to civilian life can be overwhelming, especially for career servicemen and women," a Truckstop representative told FleetOwner. "However, due to their experience and background, they can make a smooth transition to a career in trucking. We wanted to show how valuable their skills are to the industry in all capacities, whether as truck drivers, brokers, or other roles in transportation."

In 2021, the White House announced itsTrucking Action Plan, which comprises public-private initiatives to increase the supply of truck drivers by creating new pathways into the profession, including many federal resources for veterans transitioning into the trucking industry.

"Veterans have a long list of disciplines and transferable skills they may not even realize make them ideal for the transportation industry," according to Truckstop. "From their attention to detail, precision to do things thoroughly and accurately, self-discipline, and safety consciousness for themselves and those around them really gives them an edge in trucking."

For example, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration operates the Commercial Motor Vehicle Operator Safety Training Grant (CMVOST) to assist current or former United States Armed Forces (including National Guard members and Reservists) members and their spouses to receive training.

The Department of Labor offerstransportation apprenticeship programs for veterans to make money while learning the trade.

Veterans who operated heavy vehicles during their service may be eligible to receive FMCSA waivers for theirdriving tests andknowledge tests required to obtain a commercial driver's license.

In addition, there are also veteran-focused truck driving schools that can be paid for with Veterans Affairs benefits, including:The Truck Driver Institute,United Truck Driving School,Sage Truck Driving School, andTroops Into Transportation.

Truckstop says veterans can often use GI Bill benefits to pay for driver schooling programs. GI Bill benefits will also reimburse you for any truck driver licensing and certification fees.

"Supporting veterans also doesn't stop once they get on the road. Providing mentorships, networking services, and other ways to retain veterans helps them become more invested in their career and the industry," according to Truckstop.

"There are several organizations like GallantFew, American Corporate Partners, and Peer Advisors For Veteran Education (PAVE) that link transitioning veterans with one-on-one veteran mentors who can help with career questions, educational resources, and provide emotional and social support."

"For those who want to network with potential employers and other professionals in the field, organizations like Veterans in Trucking can be very helpful."

OOIDA launches 2023 Truckers for Troops campaign

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) has launched its annualTruckers for Troops campaign to send care packages to troops overseas and aid veterans at home. Until Nov. 19, truckers canjoin OOIDA or renew their membership at discounted rates, and 10% of those fees will go toward care packages. Additionally, anyone candonate directly.

"About one-third of our members served in the military, and even more have some sort of connection through relatives or friends," an OOIDA representative told FleetOwner. "Truckers for Troops provides a way for them to show support for veterans and those currently serving."

Anyone with a family member or friend serving in the U.S. military who would like them to get a care package can send their name and complete address to[email protected], and be sure to include their projected stateside return date.

Over the past 17 years, Truckers for Troops has raised more than $750,000 and sent more than 3,273 care packages, serving more than 39,276 military members, according to an OOIDA release. In addition, the organization has sent aid packages to 65 facilities caring for wounded, disabled, and homeless veterans, including theVeterans Community Project.

OOIDA also recommends veterans look into trucking as a career choice, stating: "We know that many truckers started out having learned the basics of driving in the military. Transitioning to doing it for a living as a civilian has some significant differences, but those who enjoy it can find it to be a satisfying career choice."

Kenworth opens voting for finalists in Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence program

Voting is now open for Kenworth'sTransition Trucking: Driving for Excellence program to find America's top rookie military veteran driver. Now narrowed down to five finalists, the winner will receive a Kenworth 100th Anniversary T680 Signature Edition truck. The first runner-up will receive a $10,000 prize, and the remaining finalists will receive $5,000 each.
The Transition Trucking program is a joint effort betweenKenworth, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation'sHiring Our Heroes Program, andFastport.

"The five finalists for the 2023 Transition Trucking award have drawn on the skills they developed in the military and quickly translated those skills into success in an industry that allows them to play a vital role for American businesses," said Eric Eversole, a vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and president of Hiring Our Heroes.

"Each of our semi-finalists are accomplished veterans driving positive change as professional truck drivers, and this is especially true for the finalists representing their newly adopted industry. Moving past military-friendly, this veteran-ready industry is providing a key avenue to bring in a great new generation of trucking talent like these inspiring individuals," said Brad Bentley, Fastport president.

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