WIT selects female military vets for Wreaths Across America trip

WIT selects female military vets for Wreaths Across America trip
U.S. Army veterans Nichole Garcia (from left) and Janice Neitz have been chosen by Women In Trucking to accompany Kellylynn McLaughlin, the association’s driver ambassador, on part of her trip to pick up and deliver a load of wreaths for this year’s Wreaths Across America event. (Courtesy: Women In Trucking)

PLOVER, Wis. — The Women In Trucking Association (WIT) has chosen Janice Neitz and Nichole Garcia to accompany Kellylynn McLaughlin, WIT’s driver ambassador, on part of her journey to pick up and deliver wreaths for National Wreath Laying Day, which will be observed on Dec. 19. Both Neitz and Garcia are veterans of the U.S. Army.


Every December, Wreaths Across America coordinates wreath-laying ceremonies at more than 2,100 locations across the U.S., at sea and abroad to remember and honor service members who have sacrificed their time and safety to preserve the freedoms enjoyed by Americans. McLaughlin will pick up a load of wreaths in Maine and deliver them to Houston, Texas.

Serving in the Army from 1994-2002, Neitz drove trucks and operated heavy equipment. Although she left the military to raise her son, she still volunteers for Memorial Day celebrations in her town, and she makes appearances at schools, telling students about what it means to sacrifice for this country. Neitz earned her commercial driver’s license (CDL) in 2016 and currently works for the police department of Ashland, Maine.

“I am thrilled to ride with Kellylynn on part of her journey,” Neitz said. “I feel extremely honored to play a role in getting wreaths to our fallen soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice.”

Garcia served in the Army as a medic for seven years and now works as a digital media representative for Schneider. She is passionate about sharing her experiences of serving with her co-workers, and she is involved in creating content for Schneider’s Ride of Pride program. Garcia’s enthusiasm for the armed forces is vital to the company’s efforts in recruiting veterans for driving jobs. Using her digital media skills, she will document the trip with McLaughlin and Neitz on WIT’s and Schneider’s social media channels.

“I am so appreciative of the Wreaths Across America mission and the work being done to honor and remember service members,” Garcia said. “Being able to take part in the event is a dream come true.”

Neitz and Garcia will meet McLaughlin in Boston Dec. 7 and ride with her to Maine. On Dec. 8, the team will pick up the load of wreaths and be treated to a tour of the balsam tip land. Neitz and Garcia will ride back with McLaughlin to Boston, and McLaughlin will then make her way to her final destination in Texas to deliver the wreaths.

“Wreaths Across America is a 12-year passion of mine,” said WIT’s Debbie Sparks, who has been an instrumental volunteer with Wreaths Across America, from recruiting carriers, establishing its transportation department and being a key volunteer for Arlington National Cemetery. Now as WIT vice president, Sparks manages the association’s Driver Ambassador program.

“With this initiative, I am excited to blend the missions of these two organizations and honor two inspiring female veterans,” Sparks said.

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