Sitting ducks?

By Jami Jones, managing editor

Government-funded programs are being created to help military personnel and veterans make a transition to the civilian workforce by putting them in trucking jobs. Now DOT is partnering with the Department of Veterans Affairs with a new trucking job placement center. These initiatives are commendable. It can even be argued that maybe it's a little overdue.

I believe with all my heart and soul that, generally speaking, society is failing our vets. There isn't nearly enough being done to help them heal from their wounds from war, both mentally and physically. And given the unemployment rates, especially among vets, the job market is clearly not doing its part.

That's why it's very hard to look past the noble intent of the DOT's program. But knowing the predatory nature of the underbelly of the trucking industry, the DOT cannot blindly hand out money and pat themselves on the back. Any program like this must have some safeguards built in for our veterans.

They do not need to come home and go through the industry's tried-and-true practice of a bait and switch. They don't need to attend a two-day training program with a promise of a job – only to be told at the end of it that there aren't any left. But, there is a lease-purchase program we can sign you to. One where you have no equity in the truck, and the company controls your income and time on the road (i.e., away from home). It's a program where the company gains everything and you lose everything.

That's just one example of how the shysters in the trucking industry will take advantage of our veterans. They do it on a daily basis to average men and women. There's nothing stopping them. Why would they grow a conscience overnight and retool those lease purchases for vets? There's no incentive to change.

We would be insane to send our troops into battle untrained and unarmed.

Yet, without any accountability on the part of the motor carriers who will hire them and without any legitimate training standards, we put our vets at risk of being sitting ducks by leaving them untrained and unarmed against the predators ready to capitalize on this back-to-work program. LL