Ashley Leiva, Mother and Combat Veteran, Wins Award for New Truck Drivers

Ashley Leiva, Mom and Fight Veteran, Wins Award for New Truck Drivers

Ashley Leiva makes her solution to the rostrum after being introduced because the winner of the Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence Award. (Ian Wagreich/U.S. Chamber of Commerce)

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WASHINGTON — A younger mom from Texas who’s a 15-year fight veteran gained the keys to a T680 Subsequent Technology Kenworth truck Dec. 16 after capturing the 2022 Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence Award on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The award, launched in 2016 to deal with the nationwide driver scarcity and create fast jobs for transitioning navy personnel, Nationwide Guard members and reservists, was granted in partnership with Kenworth Vans and Fastport Inc. and the chamber basis’s Hiring Our Heroes.

Ashley Leiva’s household, together with her daughter, Olivia, 5, 85-year-old grandmother, and brother Johnny (additionally a veteran and new truck driver), crammed a whole row to cheer her on as she gathered with 11 different semifinalists to await information concerning the winner.

After listening to her identify referred to as, she was hugged by relations and wiped away tears whereas making her solution to the rostrum, the place she thanked God, acknowledged Del Mar School for nominating her and expressed gratitude to the sponsors. “You guys are altering lives.”

A gleaming T-680 Subsequent Technology Kenworth truck awaited the winner exterior the U.S. Chamber of Commerce constructing in Washington. (Ian Wagreich/U.S. Chamber of Commerce)

Leiva, who served two deployment excursions in Iraq and Afghanistan, drives for Draco Power and Noemi Trucking. She spoke of her mom, Noemi, who loved a 20-year profession as a truck driver earlier than dying of abdomen most cancers final yr and influenced her and her brother to grow to be drivers. The siblings took over their mom’s enterprise, renaming it Noemi Trucking, to hold it on as a household operation.

In addition to the truck, which retails for $155,000, Leiva was awarded a Transition Trucking Scholarship for full tuition coated by Nationwide College. The academic award was granted by Meg O’Grady, college senior vp of navy and authorities applications.

5-year-old Olivia could not include her pleasure over her mom being introduced the winner. (Ian Wagreich/U.S. Chamber of Commerce) 

Johnny Leiva instructed Transport Matters that with Ashley’s new truck, each siblings will be capable to develop their enterprise since it’ll grow to be a two-truck fleet. His spouse, Sabrina, stated she is leaving her ocean refinery expertise profession to even be a driver for Noemi Trucking as a result of it provides her higher flexibility in her schedule to care for his or her 5 kids.

Additionally receiving awards had been finalists and Navy veterans Sean Adams, a driver for Alabama-based McElroy Truck Strains Inc., and Dave Marihugh, who drives for Roehl Transport of Wisconsin. They every gained a $10,000 money prize.

Finalists Dave Marihugh (left) of Roehl Transport and Sean Adams  of McElroy Truck Strains every obtained a verify for $10,000. (Noël Fletcher)

Patrick Murphy, thirty second underneath secretary of the Military, an Military veteran and Hiring our Heroes ambassador, stated he got here from a trucking firm household. His grandfather was a Teamster after World Conflict II and his father was a Vietnam Conflict veteran who drove a truck.

“The American truck driver is the face of our provide chain,” Murphy instructed the viewers. “Thanks a lot for making our nation even higher.”

The Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence Award is for a navy veteran rookie driver who has made a profitable transition to the trade inside the final 12 months. After trucking corporations this yr nominated navy veteran drivers primarily based on their efficiency, the sector was narrowed to 11 semifinalists primarily based on a public vote and an unbiased choice committee, together with representatives from motor carriers, driver coaching colleges and commerce associations.

“Whether or not you stroll away with the keys or not, each single one among you might be winners, not just for what you’ve completed, however what you proceed to do,” Eric Eversole, president of Hiring Our Heroes, U.S. Chamber of Commerce vp and retired Navy captain, instructed the semifinalists. “Congratulations to every of you in your accomplishments.”

The opposite driver semifinalists had been:

  • Jason Van Boxtel, Marine Corps veteran, Veriha Trucking Inc.
  • Cale Jensen, Air Power and Military veteran, G. Dubbels Farms Trucking Inc.
  • Paul Gouker, Military and Nationwide Guard veteran, Stevens Transport
  • Chris McDowell, Military and Nationwide Guard veteran, Epes Transport
  • Joe Nyenatee, Military veteran, Melton Truck Strains
  • Talon Rogers, Military veteran, CRST
  • Justin Silk, Military veteran, Paschall Truck Strains
  • Michael D. Thomas, Marine Corps, Prime Inc.

Genevieve Bekkerus, director of promoting for Kenworth Trucking Co., stated, “It takes a particular particular person to grow to be a member of the armed forces and transitions effectively into the trucking trade.”

Jesus Davila, an American Trucking Associations Street Group captain and knowledgeable truck driver for 4 years who works for Werner Enterprises, spoke on the occasion. Davila is a Marine fight veteran who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Throughout his service, he obtained two private awards with Fight Distinguishing Gadgets “V” and was awarded the Purple Coronary heart.

He thanked the nominees for his or her “security, dedication to trucking and selecting trucking as your profession.”

Fastport President Brad Bentley stated the annual competitors had extra variety than ever earlier than in nominations.

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