Reporting for Duty: Veterans Can Help Stem the Driver Shortage

By October 20, 2015 Drivers

The U.S. Department of Transportation may have just thrown the trucking industry a lifeline with new funds for training veterans as truck drivers.

I don’t know how many articles I’ve read regarding the driver shortage. I’ve actually lost count. We’ve posted a number of blogs on this topic, ourselves. And everyone in the industry knows that it’s going to only get worse, much worse, before it gets better. The American Trucking Associations (ATA) estimates that companies will need to hire nearly 900,000 drivers over the next ten years to replace retiring drivers and meet greater demand. Add in increasing regulations on hiring practices that may limit the available pool and what was already a bad dream turns into an absolute nightmare. That’s why the story in the October 9 issue of the Wall Street Journal was welcome news.

For the past few years, we’ve witnessed the push to hire U.S. Armed Services veterans as commercial truck drivers. Some companies make that a hallmark of their hiring promotions and late last year, the ATA made their commitment on behalf of its members and the industry to hire 100,000 veterans. This move was a part of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s “Hiring 500,000 Heroes” campaign.

Now, the U.S. Department of Transportation has sweetened the pot, doubling the amount of grant money for driving schools to train military veterans and their relatives for jobs as commercial drivers. According to the Wall Street Journal article, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) said that it had awarded nearly “$2.3 million in grants to 13 technical schools and community colleges across the country focusing on training for bus and truck drivers.”

Many of those veterans who will apply for these grants may have had no experience driving transport while in the service, but I wondered what the duties were like for those that did. So I went to the U.S. page on their website, and this is what I found:

“Motor transport operators are primarily responsible for supervising or operating wheel vehicles to transport personnel and cargo. They are the backbone of the Army’s support and sustainment structure, providing advanced mobility on and off the battlefield.”

Duties include:

  • Operate all wheel vehicles and equipment over varied terrain and roadways
  • Manage load, unload, and safety of personnel being transported
  • Oversee and check proper loading and unloading of cargo on vehicles and trailers
  • Employ convoy defense techniques
  • Identify, correct or report all vehicle deficiencies
  • Prepare vehicle for movement/shipment by air, rail or vessel

Sounds an awful lot like what we expect from our own drivers, doesn’t it? The difference is most of our drivers don’t have to go through ten weeks of Basic Combat Training and seven weeks of Advanced Individual Training. Along with classrooms and simulations, candidates for these jobs spend over 200 training hours in actual vehicles and field training environments.

Individuals who have served in this capacity would likely be welcomed enthusiastically by any company and would be a major asset to any fleet. But even those veterans who did not serve in that capacity still make excellent employees. These are people that have often, though not always, endured hardships and worked in dangerous situations. They all, regardless of where they served in the world, have a dedication to duty and are highly disciplined, making them reliable, dependable employees.

All of this is what makes hiring veterans a no-brainer. Yes, it’s patriotic. Yes, it makes us feel good. And yes, any time we can hire excellent individuals to drive our vehicles, it’s also good for our business. This is one of those rare situations where everybody wins.

What effort has your company made to hire military veterans?

Scott Marzec

About Scott Marzec

Scott Marzec is the Member Programs Manager for NationaLease. He helps member companies identify and fully utilize the NationaLease programs that can most benefit their business.

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