Fort Benning, GA - Aug 18 - The Soldier for Life Transition Assistance Program and FASTPORT came together to organize the first trucking industry-specific hiring event on Fort Benning to educate Soldiers on the industry and provide careers for those transitioning from their military careers.
The teamwork and coordination between Fort Benning’s Soldier for Life Transition Assistance Program Leaders (SFL-TAP) TSM Eddie Perez and TSS Kevin Aker and FASTPORT demonstrated how successful private-public partnerships can be to help Veterans find real economic opportunities for transitioning service members.
To educate Soldiers and build on trucking’s positive image, FASTPORT CEO Bill McLennan kicked off the event with his comments on how Soldiers are hard-wired for success in trucking and closed the presentation by showing Imagine, a video that illustrates how driving is another way to serve the country after military service.
That message set the stage for the panel discussions which TSM Eddie Perez described as “an eye-opener for a number of Soldiers,” since each was dedicated to educating job-seekers on the real economic opportunities and career paths that the trucking industry offers. TCA President Brad Bentley moderated the first panel comprised of J.B. Hunt’s Dave Harrison, Ryder Dedicated Logistics’s Patrick Pendergast, Troops Into Transportation’s Bill Caswell, and YRC Freight’s Paul Thompson.
In the second panel moderated by SFL-TAP TSS Kevin Aker, Soldiers heard from Veterans who have made successful transitions into their civilian careers. These Veterans included Clean Harbors’ Richard Tyldesley (“R.T.”), Maverick’s Joe Higginbotham, TMC Transportation’s Duane Boswell, Transport America’s Michael Horn, and Werner Enterprise’s John and Tiffany Deering.
America's Road Team Captain Alphonso Lewis closed out the panel discussions. Mr. Lewis was a tremendous inspiration because he related how his Army experience prepared him to become one of the best drivers in America.
After the panels, Soldiers moved to the Hiring Expo. We estimated 221 job-seeking Soldiers with a reported 60 actions taken including 11 job offers made (supervisors, dock workers, office personnel), 29 pre-offer letters made (commercial drivers) and 20 Soldiers signing up for CDL training tied to jobs upon successful completion. This is an astonishing 30% success rate.
Many job-seekers also explored 9 tractors, 4 trailers, an emergency spill clean-up vehicle and ATA Interstate One Image Truck Driving Simulator that were situated outside the venue that enhanced the Soldiers' experience and education about the industry.
The event was also covered and filmed by Hiring America, the only television program dedicated to veteran employment. Hiring America first became interested in the trucking industry when they saw FASTPORT CEO Bill McLennan speaking about the industry at transition summits in Germany last year where they interviewed him on the trucking industry’s career opportunities for Veterans. They have since interviewed him and have followed the industry’s progress and our collective efforts to hire veterans. Hiring America has said the trucking industry is the only industry they are aware that is taking a consolidated approach, and that innovative effort is impressive.
The Fort Benning Trucking Industry Hiring Expo also brought the announcement of the “America’s Top Rookie Military Veteran Driver” award program. In this program, Kenworth has agreed to provide a T680 truck to a deserving Veteran who enters the industry via the Trucking Track Mentoring Program. They made the truck available for the event, and it was a tremendous draw.
“Service members are hard-wired for a successful career in the trucking industry because they have experience with the largest, most complex supply chain and logistic company in the country—our military,” said Bill McLennan, CEO of FASTPORT. “We are honored to help Veterans access jobs regardless of their MOS, and the Kenworth T680 is another outstanding opportunity for one Veteran to get a jumpstart on his or her career.”.