WASHINGTON — As part of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring Our Heroes Program, a former U.S. Army mechanic, instructor and career counselor was selected as the “Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence” top military veteran rookie driver during a ceremony Friday at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation here.
Winning driver Quinton Ward of Werner Enterprises received a fully-loaded Kenworth T680 Advantage, equipped with a fuel-efficient PACCAR MX-13 engine and top of the line 76-inch sleeper, from Kenworth Truck Company.
Ward comes from a family of military veterans and joined the Army after graduating from high school.
He received the Kenworth T680 as part of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes Program, which was conducted in partnership with the FASTPORT Trucking Track Mentoring Program.
Stevens Transport’s Christopher Young (Army active duty and now Army reservist), TMC Transport’s Platt Brabner (Navy and Marine veteran) and Summar Hanks of US Xpress (Air Force and Air National Guard veteran), were the runners-up.
Young received $10,000 as the first runner-up, while Brabner and Hanks each received $5,000.
“Quinton Ward’s influence on transitioning service members as well as his dedication to personal growth in the trucking industry makes him a well-deserving recipient of the Kenworth T680 Advantage. We appreciate his service to our country, and we look forward to watching Quinton continue to grow as a driver and influencer in the industry,” said Kurt Swihart, who presented the Kenworth T680 Advantage keys to Ward at the event.
“I chose trucking because it gives me the ability to drive and see the country I swore an oath to protect and defend,” Ward said. “The skills that are key for success in the military are the same that we as drivers use every day. Time management, communication skills, flexibility and problem solving are the cornerstones that make a great employee and a professional driver. I see my future with the industry growing exponentially. I don’t want to stay and just do one thing. I want to see every facet of this industry.”
FASTPORT president Brad Bentley said the four finalists were determined by tallying scores from a selection committee. The four then advanced to an online vote on the Transition Trucking website (www.transitiontrucking.org), where people could view a video of each driver and vote their choice for the top military rookie driver.
“I had the chance to meet all the finalists at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas and I can’t say enough positive things about them,” Bentley said. “Their dedication to this country is unwavering and they exemplify what it means to be an American. They are all wonderful people who share the characteristics we look for when selecting the top military driver: hard-working, disciplined and dependable. Quinton Ward separated himself by his dedication to overcome six years of medical treatment to become a driver, as well as his work in helping other veterans’ transition to the trucking industry.”
Ward, who was injured while on active duty, medically retired in 2010. After undergoing six years of treatment, Ward utilized the VA Vocational Rehabilitation Program to earn his CDL. After receiving his CDL, Ward went to work for Werner Enterprises, where he is an active driver for the Operations Freedom program. Through Operations Freedom, Ward meets with veterans and other service members who are transitioning out of the military, as well as students who are considering working in the trucking industry.
Featured speakers at the special recognition event were Eric Eversole, U.S. Chamber of Commerce vice president and Hiring Our Heroes president; Patrick Murphy, former Under Secretary of the Army; Chris Spear, president and CEO, American Trucking Associations; and Bentley.
The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only TheTrucker.com, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.