The Log Book is a weekly rundown of human-interest stories related to the transportation industry. This week: Hiring Our Heroes awards rookie drivers with fully loaded Kenworth trucks, St. Christopher Fund raises $75,000 from its virtual concert and Operation Lifesaver awards $245,000 in grants to various state initiatives.

‘Excellence’ earns veterans fully loaded Kenworths

Launched in 2016, the Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence campaign aims to celebrate veterans, National Guard members and reservists who have transitioned to the trucking industry by presenting them fully loaded trucks.

The campaign was created by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes (HOH) Program to award a rookie driver with an asset that will allow him or her to launch an entrepreneurial career in the industry and to inspire the hiring of more veterans in the transportation industry.

This year, the group found that 205,000 military members will be transitioning into the trucking industry, and with Kenworth and FASTPORT, a technology partner with HOH that matches veterans to logistics jobs, it hopes to award these drivers who have risked their lives for our country and have helped curb the current driver shortage.

In 2020, Ivan Hernandez received the Driving for Excellence award.  

Hernandez enlisted in the Army in 1998 and after becoming an infantryman was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan in four combat tours. He received two Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart for being wounded in action by an enemy. He later was an Army trainer at Penn State and an Army ROTC instructor in South Carolina before becoming a U.S. senior adviser to the Saudi Arabian national guard. After retiring in 2018, he earned his CDL and joined Werner Enterprises Inc. (NASDAQ:WERN).

From June 10 to July 31, employers and CDL schools will be able to nominate drivers hired between Jan. 1, 2020, and July 31, 2021, and who have been employed by any for-hire carrier or private fleet that has pledged to hire veterans within their organization.

A selection committee made up of representatives from driver schools, motor carriers, truck suppliers and trade associations will judge nominees on such criteria as highway safety performance, customer relations, military service record, community service record and essay questions asked during the nomination process.

The winner receives a trip to Washington to celebrate the award at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, along with a 2020 Kenworth T680 valued at $155,000.

Two runner-ups will also attend the Washington event and each receive $10,000 for their dedication to the industry.

Highway to Hope concert raises $75,000 for St. Christopher Fund

St. Christopher Truckers Relief Fund (SCF) held its first virtual concert on May 16 to raise support for the fund that supports truck drivers who may be out of work due to illness or injury and their families. 

The group announced this week it raised $75,000 at the event.

It was a star-studded event that included country music performers Wynonna Judd, John Schneider, Billy Dean, Lindsay Lawler and Heath Sanders.

“We are so appreciative of all the artists for their time, all the sponsors for their support and every individual that purchased a ticket to this amazing event,” said Donna Kennedy, executive director of SCF, in a press release.

Funds from the event will go to qualified families who need assistance with expenses including rent, mortgages, utilities, vehicle payments and insurance. It will also help with health and wellness programs for issues like obesity, diabetes, sleeping disorders and cardiovascular diseases.

“SCF’s mission is all about hope — hope for drivers when they need financial assistance because of an injury or illness, hope for a healthy life on the road with our health and wellness programs and hope and encouragement during those long days, weeks and months on the road away from their families,” said Shannon Currier, the director of philanthropy and development at SCF. “Thank you to everyone that made this first-ever Highway to Hope event possible and thank everyone that joined us for the livestream. Your support will make a difference in the lives of the men and women we love, appreciate and depend on.”

The group also announced it has released a podcast series of interviews from the artists who took part in the event. It is available on the SCF website.

Operation Lifesaver awards $245,000 for rail safety campaigns 

On Wednesday, Operation Lifesaver Inc. (OLI) announced it has partnered with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the Posner Foundation of Pittsburgh to award $245,317 in grants to 16 states for rail safety programs.

The Posner Foundation will be supporting Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and New Jersey with $45,000 in funding for various rail safety projects tailored to each state.

The remaining funds, provided by the FRA, will go to Alabama, California, North Dakota, South Dakota, Georgia, Indiana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina and Tennessee to help local OLI chapters and their individual campaigns. 

“We strongly believe in both the mission and the organization of Operation Lifesaver and in particular its tailoring of programs state by state,” said Henry Posner III, chairman of the Posner Foundation. “This reflects the diverse reality of the USA’s railroad environments.”

Examples of programs include a trespassing campaign for educating people experiencing homelessness in areas with high levels of railroad accidents and state-driven social media campaigns that reach out to younger generations through Facebook, Snapchat and TikTok.

Click here for more articles by Grace Sharkey.

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