Veterans in the trucking industry

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What is happening to veterans? The veterans that were active or reserve members of the US armed forces serving for more than a decade in a military have been having a hard time returning to their civil life and finding a new career. According to The Washington Post since 2001 around 2.4 million members of the US armed forces are no longer serving in the military and the number of veterans is expected to increase by 1 million over the next 4-5 years. The veterans’ transition to a normal citizen after spending several years serving for their country is getting very challenging.

Going back to civilian life is not as easy as it seems. Here is why:

  1. Changing the job position is challenging.

Veterans that have served in the military over a decade face a lot of challenges once they start looking for a new job. Their whole career changes and they will face all the problems that come with trying to build a new career.

  1. Many life aspects will change as well.

Veterans’ responsibilities, their role in the community and their lifestyle will also change. That is not all. They will feel like they have to rebuild their whole life from the beginning. Can you imagine how stressful that is?

  1. Dealing with Gulf War Syndrome and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Another challenge is the fact that a lot of veterans get affected by the post-traumatic stress disorder which makes it even harder for them to get back to being a normal citizen and start a new life. According to The Washington post: “Since 2009, Veterans Affairs has reduced veterans’ homelessness by one-third during the worst recession since the Great Depression and provided access to previously denied disability benefits for more than 800,000 veterans with conditions related to Agent Orange, Gulf War Syndrome and post-traumatic stress disorder.”

  1. Their family members’ life will also be different

The families of service members will also have to face big changes in their life. They will feel responsible making their family member’s transition easier and on top of that, they will no longer receive support from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Is the government helping?

During the recent years, the US federal government has taken a lot of initiatives to help veterans transition easier. In 2009, the US department of Veterans Affairs helped more than 1 million veterans go back to school through its implementation of the new post-9/11 GI Bill. In 2011, the Pentagon and Veterans Affairs organized training for veterans helping them transition in their new life and translate their military skills and experience into a civilian resume. In the same year, Obama administration’s campaign Joining Forces aimed to increase the employment rate of veterans by challenging companies all over the US to hire or train around 100,000 veterans or their spouses and promoting expanded employment and career development opportunities by the end of 2013.

Since then, a considerable amount of unemployed veterans have been hired and trained, but the challenge is still going on as various American businesses have committed to hire or train 435,000  more veterans and their spouses by the end of 2018. Despite this though, more than 50% of the veterans have been complaining that the government is not doing enough for them. According to the Washington post, one of the reasons why most veterans are not satisfied is the difference between veterans’ expectations on civilian employment and the reality.

“Sixty-six percent of the veterans polled believed they have the education and skills to be competitive in today’s job market; 81 percent thought their skills would translate well to the civilian job market; and 62 percent thought employers would see military service as an advantage.”

Veterans believe that they will have better chances at getting employed after they leave the military but their high expectation lead to big disappointment. How are veterans finding jobs in the trucking industry?

The good news is that in July 2014 the waiver program of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) which helps unemployed veterans to get jobs as professional truck drivers has been expanded to all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

According to the DOT: “The eligibility period to obtain an FMCSA military Skills Test waiver has been extended from 90 days to one year and  returning military service personnel who possess a state-issued Skill Performance Evaluation (SPE) certificate due to a limb impairment will automatically be recognized as equivalent to an FMCSA-issued SPE certificate and allowed to obtain an interstate commercial driver’s license (CDL).” So, the situation is clearly getting better for veterans wanting to get involved in the trucking industry.

Thousands of active service members and veterans are now able to use all their military skills and experience into truck driving.

Unemployed military veterans can now find various employment opportunities including jobs as truck driver at SimplyHired.com. You can check the Trucker Jobs For Veterans link and look for thousands of trucking jobs that are available for veterans. After all, America runs on trucks not on donuts!

How can trucking industry benefit from hiring military veterans?

  1. Military veterans’ work ethic is stricter compared to the average person.
  2. The way veterans are trained and disciplined is something that will stay with them for as long as they live. Every member of the military has a solitary nature that is accompanied with a strong self discipline and motivation, which makes them a great fit for the trucking industry.
  3. Not only will the trucking industry benefit from hiring more highly motivated and self disciplined military veterans, but it will also raise its hiring standards for non-veteran applicants.
  4. The trucking industry has been hungry for long distance truck drivers for several years. Now they have the opportunity to hire the unemployed veterans who are also desperately seeking for a job that pays well. It is a win-win situation.

Why should veterans choose the trucking industry?

Classic car transport open trailer

Because it’s a job that pays a decent salary and there is actually a demand for drivers.

As you may know already, over the recent years various trucking companies in the US have suffered a serious shortage of truck drivers. It is expected that by the year 2020, the need for heavy-vehicle driver will increase by at least 17% faster compared to the national average need for other positions. Year by year, more trucking companies are appreciating the unique skills and attitudes of military veterans.

It is true that as a veteran, your transition time along your spouse trying to get a great career after your military services is going to be hard. Joining the trucking industry is the best way to make your transitioning from an active soldier to a normal citizen easier. Of course, there are many other career paths you can choose from, but choosing to get into the trucking industry will make you feel closer to your previous career because you will continue to serve the people. It is not going to be the same, but as a truck driver you will get to use your great work ethic, your skills and your experience to serve the community and boost your role and importance in the society.

If you are a military veteran and you have a CDL license, or you are willing to obtain one, you still can apply for a job in the trucking industry. You will just need a less time to train and you will be able to start earning a decent salary. Here you can learn more about truck driving training: http://www.troopstotruckers.com/. Just like in any industry the trucking industry has its challenges, but it is one of the few industries working hard to overcome them. Also, check these trucking company websites for more information on how to find a truck driving job:

How can trucking industry attract more veterans?

  1. Raise the truck driver’s salary.
  2. Offer free trainings for veterans.
  3. Advertise more on websites that are dedicated to unemployed veterans.
  4. Offer extra benefits to spouses of the veterans who get hired as truck drivers.
  5. Raise money for institutes that offer training programs for unemployed veterans trying to find a suitable job.
  6. The Department of Veterans Affairs must continue supporting the veterans’ families for at least 2-3 years after the veterans get back to their normal life. This might help the veterans be less stressed about getting a job right away in order to support their families.
  7. Offer free healthcare for veterans that happen to have the Gulf War Syndrome and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The government should not only continue supporting the veterans, but it should keep looking for new ways to improve their support and invest as much as possible in order to make their transition into civilian life even easier. The veterans have sacrificed their life for their country and they deserve to be recognized and appreciated by their own government even after they leave the military. By helping veterans, the government not only invests in their future, but also in the future of the whole country.

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About the Author:

Juxhina Malaj - a wanderluster and bibliophile who loves photography, nature, documentary films, re-watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S, and drinking green tea while listening to Indie Folk, Delta Blues, Jazz and all the good vibes.
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