Finding and hiring qualified drivers is the number one concern carriers have with recruiting. The U.S. is facing the largest qualified driver shortage in many years. At the same time, veterans returning from duty are looking for a new career. The unemployment rate for Gulf War II-era veterans is estimated at 12 percent, compared to the overall U.S. unemployment rate of 7.6 percent (as of May 2013). For male veterans aged 18 to 24, it’s 29 percent, compared to 18 percent for the general population. It seems like a perfect opportunity for the trucking industry to welcome veterans with open arms.
So why do most military veterans make great qualified truck drivers?
- Taking orders. Military discipline and effectiveness is built on the foundation of obedience to orders. Recruits are taught to obey, immediately and without question, orders from their superiors, right from day one of boot camp. This discipline can come in handy when a driver communicates with their dispatcher and carriers can trust that the load will be delivered on time.
- Quick Learners. Military vets are quick to catch on to logistics and are fast learners. This makes the training process go faster for carriers and drivers. They can also easily adjust and adapt to change, which is great for keeping up with the ever-changing regulations in the transportation industry.
- Mobile Lifestyle. For those just getting into trucking, a mobile lifestyle can be a hard adjustment for the driver and their family. Military vets are used to a life away from home and their families have also adapted to them being away for long periods of time.
- CDL Testing Waiver. If a vet drove trucks in the military, there's a good chance they can skip driving school and receive the commercial driver's license (CDL) with ease, thanks to an initiative from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The waiver program is a great way to streamline the CDL process for military members. Since vets have gained years of driving experience while serving our country, it makes sense to be able to transfer those skills to a commercial license.
- Sleep Schedule. Military vets are used to sleeping at odd hours and in strange locations while they are deployed. A truck driver, depending on their work schedule, may have to work nights and has to sleep in their truck or in a hotel while on the road. For military vets, it may be an easier transition to acquire a driver’s sleep patterns than for others.
- Work Ethic. Many employers are impressed by veterans' strong work ethic and training. Many employers have found that veterans stay with the company longer than those without military experience.
- Leadership. Those in the military are often thrust into leadership roles faster than people in the private sector. Military vets have the leadership skills that usually can't be trained without a lot of commitment and investment.
- Stress management. Many members of the military have had to work under extreme stress. Such experience can be a key asset in the trucking industry where your paycheck can vary week to week, and you have to manage high business expenses.
- Pay. The pay in transportation is usually better than what vets were making in the military, especially if they are willing to be a mentor to new drivers. This is a win-win for a carrier and a military vet who’s a new driver.
Let’s continue to support our troops by encouraging them to enter the transportation industry after their service!