New Program Training Veterans for Truck Driving

by Jana Ritter - Published: 11/29/2013

Since veterans need jobs and trucking companies are seeking new drivers, a program designed by Salt Lake City-based C.R. England Global Transportation to recruit and train veterans seems like a natural fit. "Drivers are an important item not only to us but to every trucking company in the world," said 94-year-old Gene England, whose family owns and operates the company. "We want veterans to meet the requirements for the best training. We want to treat veterans with the honor that they are entitled to."

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Thus far, England has hired about 2,000 drivers who are veterans. The company has participated in 85 veterans job recruiting events across the country. It hired Mike Lynch, a retired Army command sergeant major, as its senior military recruiter. And it began offering veterans a $3,000 tuition waiver at its five driver schools, including one in Salt Lake City. “Many veterans did not have the financial backing to come and go through training," said Lynch. "England did not want that to keep them from having a CDL."

Michael Tucker, a 25-year-old Army veteran who was injured in Iraq and served six years, took advantage of the program. He said he dreamed of either being a fireman or a trucker as a child, and that his war injuries made it impossible to be a firefighter. He went through what he called truck boot camp and qualified for his license. "I am staying running and staying busy," Tucker said. "I love C.R. England. In a dog-eat-dog world, I am treated good."

Tucker also said that it’s a good idea for veterans to do their homework before signing up for a program. He knew one student who spent his last dollar going to the school, but after he finished the class, he was lacking some documentation and did not qualify.

 Colin England, director of the England’s driver advocates, said he works to make certain that drivers are treated appropriately. "We do everything we can," he said. "It’s a tough lifestyle. Our challenge is to ensure that we are doing what we can to lessen that burden."

That said, hiring veterans has proven to be a good fit for the company. "A lot of them seem more prepared than some of the other students that haven’t had the military training," said Trina Loy, who manages the company’s Salt Lake City driving school, adding that veterans "are used to the fast-pace, high-demand stressful situation that we put them into."

It takes a driver between 17 and 20 days to finish training and receive their CDL. That includes over-the-road training, including driving up to 80,000 miles. Some are out training in a truck in as little as a week.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Administration is also working on a series of regulatory changes to further ease the transition of veterans into civilian jobs driving commercial motor vehicles.