Why Veterans Make Great Truck Drivers
November 11, 2018
Above: Josh Worthley in front of an MTVR MK-23 during off road training.
While we appreciate a veteran’s service to our country all year long – November is the month that we see the celebrations, events and special ceremonies that honor this fine group of men and women.
There are many veterans that are involved in trucking and we reached out to a few to get their take on what led them to trucking and why veterans make great truck drivers.
When you are deployed you are away from home for great lengths of time. Many over-the-road drivers experience the same and miss not only holidays but family events. This type of lifestyle isn’t for everyone but those that served seem to know going in what is expected and this means not being able to return home whenever they want.
“In my time in the Army, I was able to return home twice,” said Jim Fowler. “While I still don’t like being away from my family for lengths of time, I feel I am better prepared than most.” He knows plans change and you must go with the flow. Things happen, loads cancel, weather can delay things or your truck breaks. His time in the service provided him with the attitude that you need to adapt and adjust in order to get the job done.
Heather Hickson spent over twelve years in the service as a Marine. She was deployed to Japan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Korea, Germany and Italy. During that time, she had a child that was born in Japan and when the baby was 6 months old, she was deployed to a different country for eight months. Being able to video chat with her family during that time was a godsend. She did the same when she first started driving truck and worked for a carrier that promised more home time that never happened. Now that she is an owner operator it allows her to schedule her loads, so she can be home when she needs to be.
Utilizing skills learned while in the military have also proved to be of value in trucking. “As a former driver in the Marines, I learned skills that the average driver has not,” said Josh Worthley. “While I still learn every day, I already knew how to properly pre-trip, perform minor repairs and handle a large vehicle.” He also remarked he feels he is better at night driving as he went through ‘blackout’ drills while in the military as well as forced fatigue driving exercises. While that doesn’t mean he can drive longer or better while tired, it makes it easier to know his limits and understand his personal signs of being too tired to drive. Many of the drivers we talked to drove larger vehicles in the service preparing them to not only drive a big rig but also making them very aware of properly maintaining and navigating their truck.
Most of the vets we spoke to also enjoy the independence of the lifestyle and how the military also taught them professionalism, pride and courtesy. This has helped them communicate better with the customer and feel it has won them jobs. “You need to always keep your truck and you well maintained,” said Heather, “Customers respect that and you and your truck are the first and last view that the customer has.” Hinson feels it has won her jobs because of her behavior as well as maintaining a clean vehicle.
Having their truck ready and at peak performance was another valuable skill taught during their years in the military. “My days in the motor pool making sure the vehicles were ready to go is a lot like my days on the truck,” commented Jim Fowler, “Inspecting, servicing, and washing my semi is just second nature.”
One element of trucking that all compared to their time in the services was that comradery in the trucking community is very similar to that you can find in the military. Knowing that other drivers have your back and you theirs and willing to always lend a hand or help in any situation.
So, this Veterans Day and beyond, we here at RoadPro send a sincere thank you to all of you that have served and who also keep things moving out there!