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Thank you, veterans

Nov. 11, 2009
“We remain committed to hiring those who possess values similar to ours and have served—or are continuing to serve—our country.” –Mike Hinz, vice president of driver recruitment for Schneider National, and Lt. Colonel (retired), U.S. Army Reserve It’s ...

We remain committed to hiring those who possess values similar to ours and have served—or are continuing to serve—our country.” –Mike Hinz, vice president of driver recruitment for Schneider National, and Lt. Colonel (retired), U.S. Army Reserve

It’s no secret that respect for the military runs deep in the trucking industry – indeed, trucking actively recruits veterans from all branches of the U.S. armed forces. I’ve met countless veterans that have traded in their uniforms to drive big rigs, repair them, dispatch them, etc.

Travel to any truck show and you will find big rigs festooned with military insignia and their own personal tributes to veterans. With our good men and women in the armed forces still committed to battle in Afghanistan and Iraq, it’s gratifying to know that at least in trucking, their dedication and sacrifice are not shoved onto the back pages of newspapers or overlooked by television newscasts.

It’s also not a surprise – at least to me – that many trucking companies consider military veterans prized recruits, especially for the driver’s seat, because these are typically well-disciplined folks capable of handling what is often times a very tough job. Most servicemen and women are used to working a 12 on/12 off shift, which mirrors the hours of trucking to a degree, and understand how important it is to focus on the small details and get them right every time.

“The drive, tenacity and desire to succeed that delivers success in the military are the same traits that keep us at the top of our industry,” noted Mike Hinz, vice president of driver recruitment for truckload carrier Schneider National and a former serviceman himself.

Schneider is ranked 18th on G.I. Jobs magazine’s annual list of Top Military-Friendly Employers and, like many trucking carriers, has put together a package of benefits aimed exclusively at former military personnel, such as: Extended benefits and differential pay for soldiers deployed 18 months; guaranteed home time for weekend drill and annual training so no vacation time required for drivers; and a “quick-hire” process, allowing active military to apply, interview and be accepted two months prior to separation.

Schneider also participates in five other programs designed to help members of the military obtain employment:

ROTC Pays Program: Schneider partnered with the U.S. Army training command, allowing college students to sign up for an employer of their choice prior to graduating.

Schneider National Veterans Owner-Operator Program: Operated in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, the program provides ex-military with the training, mentoring, financial incentives and purchasing power to become an owner-operator.

Apprenticeship Program: Associates are eligible to use G.I. Bill benefits for one year to receive tax-free educational benefit checks from the Department of Veteran Affairs by submitting monthly reports to the Department of Labor.

Army Reserve Employer Partnership: Schneider National and the U.S. Army Reserve work together to recruit, train and employ individuals interested in both serving the nation and pursuing a career in the transportation and logistics industry.

The “Vetrepreneur” Program: Under this program, Schneider offers veterans the opportunity to have their training subsidized, using their G.I. Bill benefits to cover the cost of obtaining their commercial driver’s license at Schneider’s driver training academy.

This is but one example of what one trucking company is doing to help support military veterans once they leave the service. You can be as cynical as you like about it – thinking, “Oh yeah, who wants those jobs, driving trucks and turning wrenches?” – but in these days of 10% unemployment (which spikes at 15% or more in places like Detroit or in parts of the Midwest) just having a chance at a paying job, much less one geared to make the transition out of the military easy and smooth, is a great and good thing.

“To have work is a blessing,” noted retired Lt. Gen. Russell Honore in a speech I attended not long ago, and he’s right. It’s especially gratifying, though to see how many trucking companies are trying to extend work to those that volunteered to serve in the military, knowing that such service might put them in harm’s way.

Indeed, despite the economic downturn, corporate America views access to military talent as a critical long-term staffing strategy, noted Chris Hale, general manager of G.I. Jobs. The military produces 400,000 new civilian workers annually - job seekers who bring a tremendous work ethic, leadership, team-oriented philosophy and accountability to the workplace – attributes that are either impossible or too expensive to teach in a civilian setting, he added.

“Hiring America’s military veterans is a smart business decision,” Hales said. “Sure, it’s patriotic to hire military, but that’s not why corporate America does so. These companies understand how military knowledge, training and real-world experience positively affect their bottom line.”

“In the military, our troops learn how to define a mission, develop a plan, apply resources and execute the plan with superior leadership skills,” added Rick McCormack, G.I. Jobs’ publisher. “This real world experience solving complex problems at such a young age makes our veterans hot commodities to corporate America.”

As it should be -- as it should be.

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