Inbound Logistics | July 2022

made veterans a centerpiece of its plans to solve the trucker shortage in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The Department of Labor Veterans’ Employment and Training Service— led by a Marine veteran rst sergeant and former drill instructor—is working closely with the DoD, Department of Transportation, Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Small Business Administration to connect transitioning service members and veterans with trucking industry employers. The Hon. James D. Rodriguez, the Department of Labor’s assistant secretary for Veteran’s Employment and Training Service (VETS) views careers in the trucking industry as a natural continuation of veterans “doing the bidding of our nation’s interests, again, out of uniform,” he said in an NVTI podcast. “Veterans will be key components of our success in building up the trucking industry again,” Rodriguez said. “There are things that we are currently doing at VETS to help strengthen career opportunities post military service.” An example of federal programs working together to benet veterans who want to get into trucking is the coordination of the DOL Registered Apprentice Program, the DOT Skills Test Waiver plus Knowledge Test Waiver, and the VA Education (G.I. Bill Benets) Program. Averitt has rolled these three programs into its G.I. Bill Driver Training Program, which prepares veterans for career opportunities that include local CDL jobs, dock worker jobs, and regional truck driving jobs. Those who qualify can receive paid on-the- job training that leads to a Class A commercial driver’s license. WHO’S HELPING WHO HERE? The 200,000 service members who transition out of active duty each year provide an outstanding opportunity in today’s tight labor market. Veterans are truly diamonds in the rough—and post- 9/11 veterans only more so. “While in uniform, veterans benet not from just world-class technical

Approximately 200,000 men and women leave U.S. military service and return to life as civilians every year, according to the Department of Labor. The collective branches discharge many vets with direct experience in driving, warehousing, managing inventory, and planning logistics. For many of them, driving is an attractive career move and they can apply their driving experience toward getting their commercial driver’s license (CDL) as well as G.I. Bill aid they can use to pay for CDL classes. Through the Department of Defense’s SkillBridge Program, for example, transitioning service members can participate in CDL classes while they are still on active duty and veterans can leverage the G.I. Bill to pay for tuition and training fees. States may also waive CDL skills tests for qualied veterans who gain credit for their driving experience while in service through the Skills Test Waiver. MANAGERS IN TRAINING Managers are also being recruited. Participants in J.B. Hunt’s SkillBridge,

director in mergers and acquisitions, a rookie of the year in the dedicated business unit, and a manager in the company’s nal-mile services who has been promoted twice in less than one year. The efforts of leaders to hire veterans focus beyond recruiting. The culture jump from public to private can come with challenges. Vets naturally gravitate to other vets, so creating support groups in the company helps shorten the distance for employees to nd community. To promote open lines of communication to veteran employees, J.B. Hunt has a Military Ambassador program made up of veterans who advise on veteran-related services. Its Veteran Employee Resource Group (VERG) provides mentoring and the opportunity to network and share contacts and experiences. Coupa also runs a veterans’ support group and every new employee is assigned a buddy who provides one-to- one mentoring. This program partners an existing veteran within Coupa with a new hire to help them navigate through the process of moving from the military community into the corporate culture. Companies that want to tap into the veteran workforce will nd an army of resources. The Biden administration James Rodriguez ( far right ), the Department of Labor’s assistant secretary for Veteran’s Employment and Training Service, meets with apprentices and facility training coordinators at the Northeast Carpenters apprenticeship center.

program, which enables service members to gain civilian work

experience with industry partners during their last 180 days of service, are referred to as “managers in training” rather than interns. Since February 2021, 100 transitioning military service members have joined the program. In J.B. Hunt’s program, managers in training go into various transportation services in its business units. In 2022, the company will have added tracks for engineering, technology, human resources, and maintenance. Individuals in the program come from varying backgrounds. Some retired from the military after 20 years, while others have been in for as few as four years. DoD SkillBridge participants aren’t guaranteed a job after completing the program, but J.B. Hunt has hired nearly two-thirds of participants, and the company views SkillBridge as an integral piece of its talent acquisition strategy. Graduate success stories include a

July 2022 • Inbound Logistics 149

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