Transitioning service members, contemplating their next career move after leaving the U.S. military, received an excellent chance to explore opportunities available in the trucking industry at a recent Hiring Our Heroes Transition Summit held at the U.S. Coast Guard Base in Seattle.
Active duty soldiers, sailors and other members from various branches of the U.S. military met with representatives from trucking and other industries at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation event. They also visited a Kenworth T680 Advantage – equipped with a 76-inch sleeper, fuel-efficient PACCAR MX-13 455-hp fuel-efficient engine and PACCAR 40K tandem rear axle – that was decaled with a Seattle Mariners theme.
Summit participants learned that America’s top rookie military veteran driver, who has made the transition from active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces to driving for a commercial fleet, will receive a fully-loaded Kenworth T680 Advantage as the top award under the “Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence” recognition program.
Kenworth displayed the fully-loaded Kenworth T680 to encourage transitioning service members to explore trucking industry opportunities. One of the participants was Joshua Rice-Vallandingham, Petty Officer Third Class with the U.S. Coast Guard. “I am getting out of the Coast Guard this summer and am planning on starting college in September to study mechanical engineering,” he said. “I really enjoyed seeing the Kenworth T680, and now am considering the trucking industry as a career path option.”
Brian Matters, a design engineer with Kenworth and a former U.S. Army service member and combat veteran, took part in the hiring summit as the company’s ambassador to transitioning service members. He addressed the summit participants on working in the transportation industry from a veteran’s perspective, and focused on the benefits and flexibility within the industry, noted Matters, who has worked at Kenworth for four years.
“This is the third year Kenworth has teamed up with FASTPORT and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes program to provide a T680 to our nation’s top rookie military veteran driver,” said Kurt Swihart, Kenworth marketing director, who also addressed the summit. “The T680 not only makes a great way to recruit potential drivers, but also it becomes a badge of honor. Every year we see how much of an impact this truck has made not only on the veteran who receives it, but also on the many other veterans who have transitioned to civilian life. By offering this truck as the award to the best among all military-veterans-turned-rookie-drivers, we’re helping companies recognize and honor the service and sacrifices they have all made to safeguard our nation. That’s because in that simple act of nomination, companies can demonstrate our gratitude to veterans for what they have done for us.”
“It’s always fun to see the reactions from transitioning military service members as they discover the technology and creature comforts available with the Kenworth T680,” said Brad Bentley, president of FASTPORT. “The T680 is something that’s vastly different from what they may have operated during their tours of duty. By seeing the technological advancements present in the T680, coupled with the trucking industry’s critical need for professional truck drivers and the available opportunities for advancement, I think the trucking industry really starts to appeal to service members as a possible choice.”
For-hire carriers and private fleet trucking companies participating in the Trucking Track Mentoring Program are urged to review the criteria and then nominate qualified military veterans first employed as CDL drivers between January 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018. Nominations are open until June 30. Full criteria and online nomination forms can be found on the “Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence” website (www.transitiontrucking.org). Following the close of nominations, the pool of candidates will be narrowed to 10 finalists, who will be recognized during the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas in late August.
The Hiring our Heroes program runs throughout the year, with transition summits and hiring fairs slated at military bases, truck industry events, and at venues near military bases. The Kenworth T680 Advantage will be on display at selected events to inform and inspire those looking at trucking as a possible career. For more information, visit the websites of FASTPORT (www.fastport.com) and Hiring Our Heroes (www.uschamberfoundation.org/hiring-our-heroes).