U.S. Army veteran Ivan Hernandez has been busy during the last six months.
First, he was awarded the 2020 Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence award and given the keys to a brand-new Kenworth T680 truck. In March, he hired a dispatcher service and opened his own trucking business. And soon, Ivan is launching a YouTube channel dedicated to helping veterans be successful in the trucking industry.
“My whole goal before winning the Transition Trucking award was to use this (recognition program) as a platform to educate transitioning service members on what it looks like to work in the trucking industry,” Ivan told Hiring Our Heroes.
Nominate a Deserving Veteran Today
Since 2016, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes, Kenworth, and FASTPORT have come together to provide one deserving veteran with a fully-loaded T680 truck through the Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence award. This annual campaign is part of an overall effort to inspire the hiring of more veterans, National Guard members and reservists into the trucking industry.
The nomination period for the 2021 Transition Trucking award is now open. Employers and credentialing institutions (CDL schools) can nominate up to five rookie drivers. The nomination deadline is 5 p.m. EDT on July 31, 2021.
To be eligible for the Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence award, a nominee must:
- Be a legal resident of the continental United States
- Be a military veteran/prior service member or a current or former member of the National Guard or Reserves
- Have graduated from a PTDI-certified or NAPFTDS or CVTA member driving training school
- Be a current CDL holder
- Was first employed as a CDL driver between January 1, 2020 and July 31, 2021
- Agree to all the award rules
Award organizers recommend that employers and CDL schools start the application process at least one week before the nomination deadline because the submission process requires written testimonials from the nominators as well as essay question responses from the nominees. To review the essay questions and submission requirements before starting the process on Google Forms, click on “Prepare for Nominating Here” button to download an informational packet.
Each year’s finalists display exceptional success in the trucking industry. Their achievements are tied back to their military training and are examples of what veterans can accomplish after they transition from the military into civilian careers.
The top 10 finalists will be announced in September. After a selection committee selects the top three Transition Trucking finalists, the public has the opportunity to vote for their favorite driver between Oct. 28 and Nov. 11. In December 2021, the winner will drive away in the Kenworth truck and start on the road toward an entrepreneurial career.
“It’s been an amazing experience,” Ivan said when asked about being named the Transition Trucking winner.
What’s Next for Ivan
Ivan’s fascination with logistics started while he was in the Army. He observed the complex tasks of how goods moved from bases in the United States to where he was deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
This El Paso, Texas native enlisted in the Army in 1998. As an infantryman, he completed four deployments collectively to Iraq and Afghanistan where his actions resulted in two Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart.
Other notable career highlights include his selection to the Army Master Resiliency Trainer course at Penn State and working as an Army ROTC instructor at Francis Marion University in Florence, South Carolina.
Later, he served as a U.S. senior advisor to the Saudi Arabian National Guard. In this role, he assisted in the development of the first Command General Staff College, a senior level military school, for Saudi Arabian military officers. Ivan retired from the Army in 2019 and graduated from the Roadmaster Drivers School and became a professional truck driver in January 2020.
His YouTube channel, Vets2Trucking.org focuses on the career opportunities available to veterans. Ivan explained that there’s a lot of emphasis on connecting veterans and transitioning service members with the training needed for a CDL license. But once that box is checked, drivers face a “what’s next” question.
“No one knows what’s next,” Ivan said. “For example, these young folks coming into trucking out of the military have so much leadership potential. And if they don’t use it, they will lose it.”
Ivan explained that rookie drivers don’t realize that if they stay with the same company and have a college degree, they don’t have to drive a truck daily for the next 20 years. They could secure a corporate position instead by applying the leadership skills they acquire in the military at that organization.
Before, truck drivers would share knowledge when they met up at a truck stop. Now in the last year, due to social distancing, those information swaps aren’t happening. Ivan’s hope is that Vets2Trucking.org will fill an informational gap. “We (veterans) are used to adapting. We know how to do our research and go to the right person. We need to find that someone who can show us,” Ivan said.