December 8, 2014 4:00 AM, EST

Editorial: Hiring the Veterans

This Editorial appears in the Dec. 8 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

Too often in our ever more polarized world, any announcement is followed by an immediate response from someone denouncing the original position.

Such actions can leave one a bit cynical about the entire process and wondering how business groups and government agencies can ever work together on anything.

So it was refreshing that a Dec. 2 announcement of American Trucking Associations’ member companies committing to hiring 100,000 veterans over the next two years garnered a far different response (see ATA Pledges Members Will Hire 100,000 Veterans Over Two Years).

Standing side by side, trucking and government officials including ATA President Bill Graves and Scott Darling, the acting head of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, jointly proclaimed the importance of the plan to reach out to the nation’s veterans.

For trucking, facing what ATA Chairman Duane Long called a “desperate” need to fill not only driving positions but also technician and other critical job openings, making a more dedicated effort to reach veterans makes sense on numerous levels.

First is the obvious: Anyone willing to put his or her life on the line to serve the United States is likely to return home with a level of professionalism and responsibility that would make them a strong fit in many careers.

The fact that many have some level of driving or mechanical training — making the transition to trucking that much easier — is an added bonus.

“There’s no higher calling for an American than to serve in our armed forces, and I’d like to think that driving a truck — delivering America’s most essential goods safely and efficiently — is also a high calling,” Graves said.

Graves made a point to praise Darling for attending ATA’s press event at its headquarters in Arlington, Virginia.

Darling, for his part, said he planned to review a proposal that would allow states to give the written knowledge examination for those seeking commercial driver learner’s permits to out-of-state job seekers. ATA has said that could help speed the hiring of veterans.

“We’re trying to partner as much as possible with whoever to actually increase the volume of truck and bus drivers that are out there, people who want to be in the industry,” Darling said.

He noted that 25% of FMCSA’s employees are veterans, so he sees their contributions every day.

At the event, a number of fleets including YRC Worldwide Inc. and Con-way Inc. were praised for already being heavily involved in hiring veterans.

It appears that, after the additional attention from last week’s event, many more will soon be joining their ranks.