Top Rookie finalist & Marine veteran helps vets with PTSD

When Trucking’s Top Rookie finalist Brandon Douglas isn’t behind the truck wheel, he’s working with his fellow military veterans. He volunteers with a Wounded Warrior regiment to help veterans dealing with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), something with which Douglas has firsthand experience.

Douglas, who is from Moore, Oklahoma, served in the Marines from Nov. of 2001 to Oct. of 2011. Now he is a finalist for the Trucking’s Top Rookie award, which will be awarded next week at the Great American Trucking Show.

“I had some issues with PTSD and TBI (traumatic brain injury) when I was in the military and after I got out,” Douglas said. He said he appreciates the opportunity to be able to give back to his fellow veterans through his work with the Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Regiment in Quantico, Virginia.

Douglas is able to take his own experiences with PTSD and build a connection with veterans. It also puts into perspective his own progress.

“When you see them at first, you’re like ‘Man, I was bad, I can’t believe I was in that spot in my life,'” Douglas said. “So being able to see that and actually talk to them from a firsthand knowledge, and them understanding a little bit. Because most of the time, we don’t have a problem — that’s our biggest drawback. We’re military and we have no problem. We’re told to be perfect. So when you’re able to say, ‘Hey, this is my story. Now how about you?’ That’s the biggest issue is being able to get them to start opening up and talking. Being able to help them, that feels pretty good.” 

Douglas started hauling flatbed for Melton Truck Lines in January, where he drives a 2017 Kenworth 680. He has a long line of truck drivers in his family — his mother, uncle and grandfather all drove trucks for a living.

“I tried to stay away, but I figured this was probably going to be the best fit for me. I have some issues from military experience, so it’s a lot better for me to be by myself,” Douglas said.

Trucking also lets Douglas take full advantage of his competitive side. He got into flatbedding because he still wanted to have physical activity every day. He also found flatbedding to be a more competitive type of trucking.

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“I get to compete against myself everyday. Life’s a competition. I set my goals for each day and I try and exceed them, whether it’s getting to my destination a day early, stuff like that,” Douglas said.

Brandon Douglas

Marilyn Surber nominated Douglas for the Trucking’s Top Rookie award on behalf of Melton Truck Lines, where she works as the employee services manager.

“In getting to know Brandon a little bit, we just really thought he represented everything that is good about this industry and new drivers coming into this industry and exactly the kind of person we want to attract to Melton and to trucking,” Surber said.

The winner of the Trucking’s Top Rookie award will be announced during ceremonies at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas this month, and will receive $10,000 and a package of prizes. 

The eight runners up will receive $1,000 and other prizes as well.

The Trucking’s Top Rookie contest is a partnership between “Truckers News” and the Truckload Carriers Association. Sponsors and supporters include the Commercial Vehicle Training Association, Rand McNally, Pilot Flying J, Progressive Commercial Insurance, National Association of Publicly Funded Driving Schools, Professional Truck Driver Institute, American Trucking Associations, Cobra and the Red Eye Radio Network.

The winner receives:

  • $10,000 cash
  • $1,000 cash and 100,000 Pilot Flying J MyReward points
  • A custom plaque from Award Company of America
  • Interview on Red Eye Radio Network with Eric Harley
  • A feature in “Truckers News”
  • $1,000 worth of DAS Products merchandise featuring the RoadPro Getting Started Living On-The-Go Package
  • An American Trucking Associations prize package, which includes a polo shirt with logo, baseball cap, model truck and utility knife
  • A GPS unit and a Motor Carrier Road Atlas from Rand McNally
  • A dash cam and CB radio from Cobra 

The eight other finalists receive:

  • $1,000 cash
  • 50,000 MyRewards points from Pilot Flying J
  • A custom plaque from Award Company of America
  • $100 worth of DAS Products Merchandise, featuring the RoadPro MobileSpec Portable Life Package
  • An American Trucking Associations prize package which includes a polo shirt with logo, baseball cap, model truck and utility knife
  • A GPS unit from Rand McNally
  • A CB radio from Cobra

The award is named for the late Mike O’Connell was formerly the executive director of the Commercial Vehicle Training Association, and originated the idea of honoring a top rookie driver to help show new drivers they are important to and appreciated by the trucking industry.