A career in trucking offers veterans the freedom to be your own boss and the tranquility of the open road.
“Trucking is an incredible experience,” said Joseph Campbell, a retired military veteran working as a truck driver with Warren Transport. “I wanted to see the country and I get to do that.”
Last December when Campbell was named the 2019 Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence award winner, he was handed the keys to full-loaded Kenworth T680 truck and the opportunity to be an owner-operator.
“Now that I’m comfortable in my vehicle, I can observe the details. The morning and the afternoon are my favorite parts. Someone told me that you’ll never see the same sunrise or the same sunset when you’re on the road. I didn’t understand that until I saw it for myself. The sunset never looks the same even if I’m on the same stretch of road as the day before.”
Hiring Our Heroes, FASTPORT, and Kenworth are coming together again to recognize one deserving military veteran truck driver through the 2020 Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence recognition program. Kenworth will provide the top award – a Kenworth T680 equipped with a 76-inch sleeper and the PACCAR Powertrain featuring the PACCAR MX-13 engine, PACCAR 12-speed automated transmission, and PACCAR 40K tandem rear axles.
Trucking fleets should nominate their best rookie military veteran drivers for this award. The top driver will be determined by a panel of judges. To qualify, drivers must meet four eligibility requirements:
- Have been active military or a member of the National Guard or Reserve
- Graduated from PTDI-certified, NAPFTDS or CVTA member driver training school with a valid CDL
- Employed by a trucking company that has made a hiring commitment and pledge to hire veterans on the Trucking Track Mentoring Program
- First hired in a trucking position between January 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020
Full criteria and online nomination forms can be found at the Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence website. The nomination period is now open. The deadline for nominations is July 31, 2020.
The Transition Trucking recognition program started in 2016 as an initiative to curb the national driver shortage and create immediate jobs for transitioning service members. Currently, there is a nationwide shortage of 200,000 drivers and the demand is growing. Veterans and transitioning service members can learn more about career opportunities in the transportation industry at Hiring Our Heroes’ Career Community.
“The Transition Trucking award campaign offers a valuable platform to highlight veterans’ positive impact on the transportation industry, and to introduce veterans to the excellent economic opportunities offered by a career in trucking. Hiring Our Heroes has helped more than 150,000 transitioning service members and veterans connect with career opportunities in trucking, and we hope that veterans will take this opportunity to shape their futures in a high-demand industry,” said Eric Eversole, vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and president of Hiring Our Heroes.
Since being selected as the 2019 Transition Trucking winner, Campbell has been busy learning the business of being an owner-operator.
“I feel very fortunate to have this truck. I see such a potential in it,” Campbell said. “Being a business owner, you’re going to have your ups and downs, especially in the current environment. I’m still nervous about the income, the operating costs, and things like that. Getting this truck has been a huge growth moment for me and it opened my mind to other possibilities, like owning my own fleet one day.”
Campbell transitioned to open-deck hauling, set up his LLC, and connected with the 2016 Transition Trucking winner Troy Davidson. Davidson is a Navy veteran, who drives professionally for Warren Transport. He is a driver trainer to help guide the newest members of the trucking industry become excellent drivers.
“I set my goals according to the worth of my business and I have a number in mind that I’m working to reach. I just want to see how high I can get it to,” Campbell said. “With this truck, I can truly shoot for the stars.”
Besides economic opportunities, trucking provides a sense of peace for Campbell he recommends for fellow combat veterans.
“I’ve talked to a lot of military veterans in the trucking industry and a lot of us have seen combat. We have experienced that type of stress,” Campbell said. “Driving a truck is calming.”
Campbell served as a telephone technician in the Marine Corps from 1991 to 1996. In 2000, Campbell returned to military service; this time serving as a paralegal in the Army. He deployed to Iraq in 2003. Campbell retired from the Army in 2018 after serving a combined total of 24 years in the military.
“My wife says this is the first time I’ve loved my job. I loved the military, but this is completely different. I’m a different person. I’m a happier person because of truck driving.”