“This is a life-changing event, and I’m not going to let anybody down,” said U.S. Navy Veteran Troy Davidson as he received the keys to his brand new, fully-loaded Kenworth T680 truck.
Davidson served in the Navy for five years, eight months and 17 days. During his second year in the Navy he was hired to work with the Blue Angels flight demonstration team. When the time came to leave the service and transition into civilian live, he used his Post-9/11 GI Bill to pay for trucking school, then started his job as a 48-state van driver with Werner Enterprises.
“The connection I found was basically pretty simple. I took all the Navy core values — honor, courage and commitment — and rolled it into my civilian career,” said Davidson. “It gives me a sense of pride to continue serving our country, not being in uniform anymore, and knowing that all us truckers that are out in this industry are capable of making America great.”
The truck giveaway was a part of the Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence award, put together by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes, in partnership with Kenworth Trucking and FASTPORT. The campaign, launched in the spring of 2016, is part of an overall effort to inspire the hiring of more Veterans, National Guard members, and reservists into the trucking industry. As the main part of the campaign, deserving Veteran drivers who had made a successful transition from military service to the trucking industry were able to participate in a chance to win the truck.
“When FASTPORT goes out to military transition summits, we conduct a lot of workshops and there’s always people that are surprised that what they do has a translation into the civilian sector,” said Brad Bentley, president of FASTPORT. “One of the things I tell people, especially for trucking, is if you think about what you do now, the U.S. military is the largest logistics operation in the world, so we know they’re going to be hard-wired to succeed if they choose a career in the trucking industry.”
Veterans often make good candidates in civilian career fields because of the skills they learn while in military as well as their discipline, attention to detail and drive to get the job done.
“For a lot of people, words like courage, discipline and honor, those are just words that they aspire to live up to. And our Servicemembers, our Veterans, they actually live those each day of their lives. They’re trained from day one in basic training to be committed to those values, to live up to them, and our nation expects nothing less and they obviously deliver nothing less in those core values,” said Eric Eversole, president of Hiring Our Heroes. “So that’s the value that they bring to American industry, and I can tell you, businesses across America want those tremendous values and skill sets in their businesses.”
Throughout 2016, trucking companies nominated worthy drivers for this campaign, and an independent selection committee that included representatives from motor carriers, driver training schools suppliers, and trade associations chose 10 preliminary finalists from all the eligible nominees. After announcing the top 10 finalists, the selection committee then chose the top three finalists from that preliminary pool. The public had an opportunity to recognize their favorite rookie driver through an online vote at TransitionTrucking.org from Sept. 25 through Veterans Day.
The Kenworth T680 is a top-of-the-line fleet truck. It has all the bells and whistles, including a premium interior with leather seats, collision mitigation, radar and camera technologies, a multi-media display, a fridge, a table and luxury bed.
With his new truck, Davidson will stay with Werner Enterprises and help other Veterans who are transitioning out of the military.
“I want to educate the population about what the trucking industry stands for, what it means, and if there’s any military personnel that are transitioning out of the military or retiring, I want to be a crucial part of explaining to them what things they can overcome to be successful in this business,” he said.