Group Helps Veterans, Afghan Aides Find Trucking Jobs

Task Force Movement image
Task Force Movement was launched last April as a grassroots effort to bring the government and private industry together to alleviate labor shortages. (Task Force Movement)

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Public-private partnership Task Force Movement is seeing success in helping military veteran community members find trucking jobs, including Afghan refugees who helped U.S. troops.

“We’ve made incredible progress over the last year engaging more than 100 stakeholders in this effort, connecting hundreds of veterans, military-connected individuals and Afghan SIV [Special Immigrant Visa] holders, who worked alongside our troops in Afghanistan, with well-paying jobs in trucking,” said Patrick Murphy, TFM chairman and former congressman and U.S. Army under secretary.

The organization’s Operation Afghan Open Road program focuses on providing scholarships, education, training and jobs for recently displaced Afghan refugees who served alongside the U.S. military overseas. TFM is partnering with the North Montco Technical Career Center and Bucks County Community College in Pennsylvania to provide full scholarships to Afghan SIV refugees to obtain CDLs through a five-week program.

Upon program completion, TFM leaders and partners specializing in veteran and refugee workforce mobility work with six identified Pennsylvania employer partners committed to hiring TFM scholarship recipients.

“Task Force Movement and its partners will provide integration and onboarding support to our employer network and Afghan candidates directly after placement. Follow-up training, language support and understanding cultural norms will help ensure success in the transition period,” the organization stated. “TFM will monitor outcomes and work with partners to streamline best practices and develop a playbook for future state pilot programs.”

TFM was launched last April as a grassroots effort to bring the government and private industry together to alleviate labor shortages in industries such as trucking by moving well-qualified members of the military-connected community into high-demand jobs. Those include transitioning service members, members of the National Guard and Reserves, veterans and military spouses.

According to TFM, each year more than 20,000 service members who held either primary or secondary truck driving jobs separate from the military. In fiscal 2019, more than 130,000 service members (active, Guard and Reserve) served in military occupations with either primary or secondary truck driving duties. Among those, 23,000 separated from the military that year.

TFM’s supporting government agencies are the departments of Transportation, Commerce, Defense, Labor and Veterans Affairs as well as U.S. Army Soldier for Life. Other partners include American Trucking Associations, Averitt, Yellow Corp., J.B. Hunt, ABF Freight, Florida Rock & Tank Lines Inc., Denney Transport Ltd., Minority Professional Truckers Association, National Tank Truck Carriers, American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, Port of Baltimore and Wounded Warrior Project.

J.B. Hunt Transport Services  ranks No. 4 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America, Yellow is No. 10, ArcBest is No. 14 and Averitt Express is No. 32. J.B, Hunt also is No. 5 on the TT Top 100 list of the largest logistics companies, and Averitt is No. 96.

Among TFM’s other accomplishments is a new 38-page report, issued April 5, called “Task Force Movement (TFM): Life-Cycle Pathways for Military and Veterans into Trucking” since the organization was formed in support of the Biden-Harris Trucking Action Plan of December 2021. During the pandemic, President Joe Biden’s administration called on stakeholders to help alleviate trucking workforce challenges, strengthen the supply chain, help the economy recover and create a new-generation workforce in trucking.

“While the Biden-Harris Trucking Action Plan is focused broadly on how to enhance the truck driving workforce, it also singles out the need for veteran-focused outreach and recruitment in recognition of the significant skills that military-trained truck drivers can bring to the civilian workforce,” according to TFM, which formed afterward to focus on ways to increase the number of transitioning service members and veterans into trucking careers.

“This new report offers a road map for stakeholders in the public and private sectors to remove barriers to opportunity for this critical part of our workforce,” Murphy said.

The report contains best practices and recommendations in four key areas:

  • Transform the trucking narrative and elevate the brand.
  • Increase access to quality training and employment.
  • Improve documentation, recognition and transferability of military skills.
  • Explore linkage between whole person care and veteran workforce success.

Among the best practices mentioned are successful DOD SkillBridge programs. ABF Freight, an ArcBest company, sponsors the Teamsters Military Assistance Program with two commercial driver license training programs at military bases. The six-week programs run concurrently. Offering six to eight classes annually, ABF has committed to class sizes up to 10 students for safety reasons. ABF is targeting training programs for truck drivers as well as operations supervisors, mechanics, shop supervisors and truckload sales. The program is free for military service members.

In response to Department of Labor’s 90-Day Trucking Apprenticeship Challenge, Werner Enterprises created a program-management apprenticeship. It has had a SkillBridge program since 2017 and is on five military installations. Werner has a suite of military programs that have been successful, including supporting the Military Skills Test Waiver Program since 2015.

TFM also is benefiting from gaining insights into the military.

“Significant lessons can be learned by studying the military’s approach to whole-person care, which is recognized as essential to ensuring military readiness,” TFM noted. Consequently, it has “begun exploring the feasibility of creating a whole-health framework for a veteran trucker workforce that is modeled after the military’s approach and is committed to further research to determine how a holistic approach might improve the ability of employers to retain and grow their veteran workforce.”

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