Military veteran: Trucking is bigger than me

Joseph CampbellJoseph Campbell

Spending 24 years in the U.S. Marines and U.S. Army gave Joseph Campbell a mission-oriented mentality, and when he retired he still wanted to be a part of something that was bigger than himself. Trucking fit that bill. 

“Coming from the military I was looking for something that would be bigger than me. Yeah, I could have gotten an office job. I could’ve sat behind a desk. But I wanted something bigger, and I felt like trucking gave me the opportunity to do something that keeps me in that same feeling I had in the military where I was part of a bigger mission,” Campbell said.

Campbell, of Elgin, South Carolina, recently completed his first year in Roehl Transport’s flatbed division accident-free and is training to become a certified trainer. He’d had a lifelong interest in trucking and sought out flatbedding because he wanted a challenge.

“Trucking has always been an interest of mine from when I was a kid. I was that kid running around with my big Tonka dump truck and I’d watch for the truck drivers,” Campbell said. “I’d throw up my arm and they’d smile back and give me a honk.”

Campbell is one of four finalists up for the 2019 Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence award, which recognizes rookie truck drivers who are veterans.

The winner will be announced Dec. 6 during a ceremony at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The winner will receive a fully-loaded Kenworth T680, the runner-up will receive $10,000, and the other two finalists will each receive $5,000. The truck has a PACCAR MX-13 455-horsepower engine and a 76-inch high roof sleeper with driver studio.

The award is a partnership between Fastport, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes initiative, and Kenworth.

Trucking has allowed Campbell to travel throughout the United States and meet people he never otherwise would have met. “The beauty of the country, the beauty of the people” is what’s kept him in his driver’s seat coming back for more, he says.

“It’s just incredible. I’ve met people from all walks of life. Truck driving allows me to meet incredible people,” Campbell said. 

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Trucking is a good fit for military veterans because there is overlap between the military lifestyle and the trucking lifestyle, Campbell said.

“Part of it is you understand how to deal with the solidarity and also you are able to deal with leaving home, leaving your family,” said Campbell, who is home more now that he’s in trucking versus when he was in the military.