From the Front Line to the Freeways of America

From the Front Line to the Freeways of America

How Military Veteran Jim Howell Made the Transition Work for Him

After proudly serving in the U.S. Air Force conducting operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, Jimmy Howell understands the meaning of brotherhood.

It’s that bond between the men and women in the military that helps soldiers, airmen and sailors get through the daily ups and downs of life in an active theater of war.

“It’s about trust. It’s about respect. It’s about treating each other as humans. It’s about being flexible. It’s about loyalty. It’s about covering someone else’s six,” says Howell. “It’s about family.”

It’s these same qualities that Howell came to appreciate during his years in the military that he’s come to appreciate in Transport America, where he works as a fleet manager out of the company’s North Jackson, Ohio, support center.

Howell joined Transport America a little more than a year ago and today oversees 11 RGO drivers in the Regional Ohio Division fleet (Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut), and 16 drivers who work with Transport America’s Short Haul, LTD Division (New Jersey, New York City, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Maryland).

Howell left the military when he was injured. As he healed and prepared himself to re-enter the civilian world, he found that what he really wanted out of a company was an esprit de corps that he experienced while serving in the military. He was recruited by one of the nation’s automakers and was sold on its commitment and benefits for military veterans. But when he went to work there, he soon realized that the promises they made didn’t match up to the day-to-day reality of the workplace.

“It’s really hard for veterans to leave the military and find their way in the world,” says Howell. “In the military, trust and loyalty is a given, but that’s not always the case in the corporate world.”

After searching online, Howell came across Transport America.

“As a kid, I read the biography of Winston Churchill who realized that real leadership is about serving others and empowering those with whom you work,” says Howell. “That’s what I saw with Transport America. I see employees who love America – who know that their mission is to keep America moving. I see leaders who are genuinely concerned about their drivers and want to make sure that their drivers have everything they need to get their work accomplished. I see the kind of respect toward our drivers and all employees as I saw in the military. That really impressed me.”

Howell knew that Transport America was the company for him based on his first interview with Chad Campbell.

“That’s one piece of advice that I would give to other vets who are re-entering the workplace,” says Howell. “You can tell a lot about a company by the first interview. My first interview with Transport America was very thorough and open. I realized right then and there that this was a different company. They treated me like a human being. They spent time with me to figure out if this was going to be a good fit for me.”

In working at Transport America and meeting other military vets, Howell has come to see that while the company celebrates and respects his military service, it also has this “hands off” approach that allows for vets to heal on their own terms.

“People here are not constantly asking you about your military service,” Howell says. “That’s nice. And yet, I’ve connected with other drivers and employees who have served overseas and we can have those conversations – we can share those experiences we’ve had.”

Howell offers this other piece of advice to military vets entering the trucking industry:

“The second you leave active duty, you’re trying to figure out what you’re going to do next with your life,” he says. “You are the commanding officer of your own ship. Don’t be suckered by the money. Look for a company where you feel like you’ve found a good fit. You’ll know it when you wake up every morning and can’t wait to get to work. For me, it’s more than just moving forward. It’s about finding your purpose and knowing that you’re with a company that respects its people and is committed to doing good in the world.”