Trucking with the Troops offers extra help to veterans and even families

Students at Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo train for careers in the trucking industry. ...
Students at Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo train for careers in the trucking industry. All but one person in this class have taken advantage of a federal grant program that aids both veterans and family members in training.(KCRG)
Published: Oct. 6, 2017 at 4:03 PM CDT
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The United States is looking at a pretty big truck driver shortage, And one community college in eastern Iowa is hoping to shrink the shortage while helping out veterans and their families.

The American Trucking Association estimates the trucking industry will need to hire an additional 890,000 drivers over the next decade. In Iowa, Workforce Development estimates 1,400 new trucking jobs open up in the state every year.

A lot of federal programs help veterans train for a new career.

But the Trucking with the Troops program at Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo is a bit different. It’s one of just seven schools nationwide able to use a federal grant to help train not only current and past service members for a career in that industry but also spouses and even children.

Scott Rice was self-employed when he decided to go to Hawkeye to train for a new career as an over-the-road truck driver. He knew nothing about the Trucking with the Troops extra assistance until a counselor asked if his father had ever served.

When he found out his father’s service in Vietnam decades ago would mean more financial help for him, he was pleased.

“Oh it’s huge. It’s saving me about half on tuition. It’s really a no-brainer,” Rice said.

Dan Snook is another student who signed up for the program open to all with a military connection. He’s training now while still serving in the Iowa National Guard.

“It pays for your permit, license and it can cover your physical too. It helps out a lot for someone like me on a budget,” Snook said.

Robin Knight, a veterans services coordinator at Hawkeye Community College, says Veterans and G.I. Bill benefits can be used by veterans for many qualified programs at colleges.

But only Trucking with the Troops pays for extras like licenses and other things—up to $2,400 for a 16-week program.

And the fact the program can be used by spouses of someone who was in service and even children is fairly unusual.

“There’s a couple of G.I. Bill options through the V.A. we’re able to use. But it’s really doesn’t help everyone like this program does,” she said.

Hawkeye counselors say 15 active or graduated students with a military connection have signed up for the extra assistance to learn the trucking trade since it launched last fall. The Trucking with the Troops grant is available at Hawkeye at least through next spring and might be renewed.

Counselors think the next closest truck training program to offer this assistance is in Oklahoma.

Hawkeye is hosting two open houses on Saturday, October 21st and Saturday, November 4th. Go

about the Trucking with the Troops open house.