Werner is back with the latest installment of our “From Uniform to Civilian” series, where we speak with three exceptional team members at Werner who are veterans and hold different positions within our company.
For the second part of the series, we chatted with AJ P., professional Driver, about his time in the military and why he joined Werner.
With this interview and others, we hope to shed light on the experiences and perspectives of our veteran team members, highlight their valuable insights and unique contributions to the organization, and talk about the challenges they encountered during their transition.
Can you tell us a little bit about your time in the military?
I’m a 16-year Marine Corps veteran. I enlisted in December 1999 and left for civilian life in January 2016 with the occupational specialty of Infantryman. During my time in service, I completed four deployments.
A large part of why I joined the military was because of my grandfather, who would share stories of his experience and travels around the world. I wanted something similar.
My first deployment was with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit Special Operations Capable (MEUSOC) to Okinawa, Japan. That was followed by two tours in Iraq and my final deployment with the Unit Deployment Program (UDP), also in Okinawa, Japan.
How did you become a professional driver with Werner?
Coming out of my time in service, I knew I was interested in pursuing a commercial driver’s license. As I started to wrap up my initial driver training, I began to look for a company that would suit my needs as a civilian. The school I attended had several pamphlets from different organizations, and as I researched, Werner became a standout with the breadth of career growth opportunities they offer.
Even in my early days as a professional driver, I gravitated toward helping other drivers develop their skills or explaining and demonstrating how to use the technology we have access to, like the MCP200.
Three years later, I officially became a leader, taking my career to the next level. My purpose here at Werner is to help develop new professional drivers.
I don’t see myself anywhere else. Werner has become my new family. I’m not going to leave; I’m going to retire here.
What skills could you translate over from your time in the military?
As a veteran, you obtain a multitude of skills. Still, the most valuable skills that transferred over to a career in the transportation industry are planning, time management and communication.
You’re a part of Operation Freedom. Can you tell us more about that?
Operation Freedom is a great program promoting Werner’s support for veterans and their families. You get the opportunity to visit various schools and attend events, representing not just the company but yourself as a veteran and the families of veterans.
In addition to Operation Freedom, Werner supports Remember Everyone Deployed (R.E.D). As a part of that, we typically wear red on Fridays to remember those folks that can’t be home with their families. This is our way of saying, “Don’t forget, we still have folks out there doing business.”
What would you tell other veterans looking to find the next step in their career?
The best advice I can give any transitioning veteran is to remember that you are starting over and have to establish yourself in the civilian market. Find what works for you – what makes you happy and takes care of your family in the process.
To learn more about transitioning to civilian life as a professional driver, click here. For more info on our current opportunities for veterans, click here. To learn more how Werner supports our veterans, click here.
If you’re a Veteran in crisis or concerned about one, there are caring, qualified VA responders standing by to help 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Veterans Crisis Line is a free, anonymous, confidential resource that’s available to anyone, even if you’re not registered with the VA or enrolled in VA health care.