Anthony Harris keeps his dog tags hanging inside his truck. Brent Stoufer and Joshua Matson wear camouflage ball caps while delivering freight. All three have something in common: They are military veterans and are among the first drivers to participate in Hunt’s Heroes, a new program officially launched in April 2015 by J.B. Hunt.
The program offers Class A driving positions to current members of the military and veterans who have been discharged from active duty within the past three years. Participants can use their G.I. Bill to attend J.B. Hunt’s Military Finisher program, which provides 40 to 160 hours of training at approved driving schools and pays room, board and daily wages.
More than 30 veterans have been hired through the program so far, and J.B. Hunt has committed to hiring more than 1,000 veterans through Hunt’s Heroes by 2015. Interest in the program has spread quickly, prompting an expansion from five markets to approximately 30 micro-markets.
The idea came about as J.B. Hunt officials tracked the trend toward states applying for a Skills Test Waiver from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The waiver allows eligible military applicants to substitute two years of experience driving military vehicles for the skills test portion of the commercial driver’s license exam. According to the FMCSA, all 50 states now offer the military skills test waiver, paving the way for former military drivers to earn their CDL, based on their military driving experience.
“We thought this would be a great way to give great candidates opportunities to fill our local and regional driving positions,” says Stan Hampton, vice president of corporate driver personnel at J.B. Hunt.
Initial feedback has been positive, with field operators praising the Hunt’s Heroes candidates.
“They are attentive, professional and handle the on-boarding and training aspects of the jobs better than nonmilitary candidates and remain focused on safety,” Hampton says.
The program is the latest in a long list of veteran-friendly initiatives J.B. Hunt has launched. Nearly one in five J.B. Hunt drivers is a veteran, filling positions in Dedicated Contract Services as well as the Intermodal unit, with more than 2,000 veterans working companywide.
For eight consecutive years, J.B. Hunt has been ranked by G.I. Jobs Magazine among the top 100 military-friendly employers, and in 2012 and 2013, J.B. Hunt made their top 10 list.
Veterans like Harris, Stoufer and Matson say they are appreciative of the Hunt’s Heroes program.
“They’re giving guys a chance,” says Harris, who drove tanker trucks for the United States Army before leaving the service in March 2013 and returning to his home in Killeen, Texas.
Harris had searched for jobs elsewhere, but he was surprised when he called a Hunt’s Heroes recruiter and was enrolled in J.B. Hunt’s Military Finisher school a few days later.
“Some trucking companies wouldn’t look twice at you because you don’t have any commercial experience, but at J.B. Hunt, they look at you as a soldier,” Harris says. “They know you’ve got your bearings and are a quick learner and easy to teach. It’s a stellar company.”