WATERLOO, Iowa (KCRG)- A truck driver training program at one eastern Iowa community college has an offer for any veteran or family member of a veteran. If you want to train for a new career as an over-the-road truck driver, you won’t have to pay thanks to a federal grant.
Herson Arzu uses a driving simulator at the Hawkeye Community College Regional Transportation Training Center. The center recently got a federal grant to provide free training to become a truck driver for veterans or their family members.
Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo launched a “Trucking with the Troops” program a couple of years ago. The grant then paid for about half the cost of the program for a veteran or family member who qualified.
But the new and improved grant program from the U.S. Department of Transportation will now pick up the entire cost—giving vets or their family members a “free ride” to a new career as a trucker.
For Herson Arzu, the offer was literally too good to pass up.
Arzu left the Navy in 2005 and now works at a factory job in Waterloo.
He wanted a change and with the Trucking with the Troops program he can hit the road with a trucking company in about six weeks—all at no cost to him.
“I qualified for the grant. I absolutely took advantage of it. It didn’t have to come out of my pocket,” he said.
Trainers with Hawkeye’s Regional Transportation Training Center say one Trucking with the Troops vet graduated last week. Arzu, who started last week, is the second accepted into the program.
The training including DOT physical, licenses and fees typically costs a student about $3,500.
Ron Bohle, training center director, says word of mouth and a few notices sent to veterans groups has produced a lot of interest.
“I don’t think we knew how fast this would move. We’ve got a lot of interest in it. Not only for classes now but classes that start over the winter months,” Bohle said.
Robin Knight, the coordinator of veterans services at Hawkeye, is also getting lots of calls.
“Because it is not only offered to the veteran or service member but also spouse and children, and it’s paying the full cost of the program, the word is getting out,” she said.
Trucking for the Troops is free for those who qualify. But there is a limit.
The $108,000 grant is enough to pay for about 20 participants.
Training center leaders say about 1,300 openings a year for truck drivers come up in Iowa. And those who graduate the six-week course usually have jobs waiting.