At Truckstop.com, we are proud of the work that our truckers do to keep our country rolling. We appreciate their sacrifice of long hours, hard work and little thanks along the way. We feel this same pride for our military personnel and we see a parallel: Time away from home, the dangers (while quite different are still very apparent), stressful work, long hours and little thanks.
I am lucky to have a father-in-law who is both a veteran and a truck driver and reached out to him to discuss his views on being a veteran in the trucking business. It is easy to see there is a desire to get our veterans into the workforce but where is the question. The DOT and FMCSA have been reducing regulations for those with a driving background in the U.S. Military. Mark Scheuffele drives for Holman Transportation Services, Inc. and is a former Marine. Below is our conversation.
How long have you been a driver?
I have been a trucker for about four years now and I have been with Holman just under a year.
What about the trucking industry was appealing to you?
I like to drive and see different parts of the country. I do not have to worry about cleaning up someone else’s mess as I am allowed to be self-reliant. I feel bad for those who have to sit behind a desk and deal with the micromanagement. Trucking offers freedom from micromanagement and I love that.
How does the trucking industry compare to the military?
Society would shut down without either. There can be no country without defense. If trucking companies shut down, no goods can be delivered and the economy stops and the country dies. Trucking is the lifeblood of America.
When on the road, when you have time or a reset, what is one of your favorite things to do?
I enjoy exploring the area. I have visited Niagara Falls on six different occasions. I like to visit points of interest. Trucking allows me to witness the most beautiful scenery and landscape in the world. I love the view out of my windshield. It is my front porch and it is ever changing.
What experiences and/or skills you gained as a Marine have carried over and benefitted you as a driver?
It really comes down to discipline. The discipline that I got out of the Marine Corps helps me every day. Get out of bed and get to work to achieve your goal for the day. Put a plan in place and get to it. Here is what I need to do and here is the time I need to do it. Now do it. Determination and motivation. In the military, you would have what is called field day. Field day is cleaning in the military whether it be your weapons or barracks or whatever. You are looking for smallest problem. As a driver you have to pay attention to the smallest detail in the same way. This is big when it comes time for inspections. Look at the details. The military also teaches you how to deal with stressful situations. Truckers have to deal with stressful situations as well. Weather, traffic, detention, parking can all be stressful situations and military veterans will be more apt in dealing with these situations because of their training.
What do you think of the relaxing of requirements for military personnel to get their CDL?
It makes perfect sense if they truly have driving experience. If they do not, it does not make sense as it takes a lot of training to be a safe driver. Overall the requirements need to be stiffer in order to ensure better safety on the road both behind the wheel and knowledge checks.
What are some of the other positives about being a driver?
Working for the smaller companies, like Holman, is wonderful. They know you as a person instead of as a number and you are as much of an asset as the truck itself. A good driving record is a golden ticket to a job anywhere. Working for a former driver, as I do, is great because they take good care of their drivers.
What are some of the negative?
Not seeing family. Grandkids in my case. But I miss catfishing on the Snake River.
Do you wish you would have started as a driver sooner?
Yes – as a driver in the Marine Corps I loved driving. It is one of the few careers that the more miles you have the and the older you get the more valuable you get.
Would you recommend fellow veterans to the trucking industry?
Yes, because it is good, dependable work. I have witnessed a number of handicapped veterans as drivers (one hand, club foot and others). Driving is not an easy skill but a good one because drivers are in high demand. Veterans are in need of jobs and a Class A CDL makes it easy to find a job anywhere. Some companies will give discounts for training if you are a veteran but there needs to be more grants and federal funding for veterans to get their CDL.
What does Memorial Day mean to you as a Veteran?
Honoring the people who volunteered to step into harm’s way. They took a stand and backed it with their lives. Some came back and some did not. We are honoring both.
Is there a correlation between the reduction in military driver CDL requirements and the TSA warning about potential terrorist attacks using trucks?
Yes, it helps the fleets know that their background checks have already been completed and it could help ward off a potential threat from a terrorist taking a truck and carrying out an attack. Semis are a 73 foot killing machine.
Are there any changes you would like to see made, a wish perhaps, to make life as a trucker easier?
I would like to see a national fishing license created for over-the-road drivers. I love to fish but buying a fishing license for a day is not always something I can do based on the locations I am at. I would also like to see the military do a better job of educating their discharged veterans at the different opportunities that are available to them and pushing them in a direction that benefits them based on their skill sets.
Any final thoughts you would like to leave us with?
There are four things in my mind that we look at and know to be a top service in America. When I look at these four sectors of our nation, I think America. Military, medical industry, law enforcement and truckers. I also wish more fellow veterans would join trucking. I find my windshield time to be very therapeutic. I listen to my books or music and see the ever-changing scenery. No one is hanging over your shoulder and it is incredibly relaxing.
After talking with Mark on these issues, my opinions regarding the trucking industry have only hardened. Our veterans are in positions where they are often times not sure of what direction to take once they leave the military. The skills they have acquired while defending our country are skills that few have in terms of stress management, problem solving and general attention to detail. As incidents around the world suggest, trucking can be used as a weapon for terrorists and having trained military personnel looking for something that might be out of place cannot hurt. We keep hearing the trucking industry is hurting for drivers. To the same point we keep hearing that we are not doing enough to help our veterans get back into the workforce. A marriage of the two could not hurt and could very easily be an answer to both issues.
We thank all of those in the military for their service and sacrifice. Enjoy your Memorial Day with the thoughts of what the brave men and women who have served and fallen have done for us in the back of your mind.
A special thank you to Holman Transportation Services, Inc. for allowing us the opportunity to officially interview Mark Scheuffele on his experiences as a veteran in trucking and thank you to Mark, himself, for taking his time to talk with us on the topic.