An Ohio-based carrier recently honored one of its drivers with a special truck.
Army veteran Jason Robison was given a custom-wrapped truck, which is part of Continental Express' Fleet of Heroes. The truck is specially wrapped in partnership with the national nonprofit organization Mission 22, which aids military veterans in need.
“We could not think of a better driver suited to get behind the wheel of our Mission 22 truck," said Continental Express’ Operations Manager Bradley Gottemoeller. "Jason is always willing to lend a helping hand and we’re honored to have a great veteran like him represent both Continental Express and the mission,”
Robison has spent his life around trucks, but 2022 marks a new chapter in his trucking career, according to a statement from Continental, which was recently named to the 2022 Best Fleets to Drive For list.
Robison has driven for Continental Express for over 12 years, but his life-long love of trucks goes much further back. At just 13 years old, Jason’s father, a truck mechanic working at a dealership, taught Jason his way around under the hood. After graduating from college and joining the Army, that knowledge was put to work as he trained to be a heavy-duty truck mechanic and a licensed tank driver.
“A lot of my time was either hauling stuff back and forth between Air Force bases or loading up the trucks,” said Robison. “I’ve been around trucks my whole life. I knew about engines and the size of the truck, but getting into truck driving is what got me off alcohol.”
Robison said he started drinking while in South Korea. He was stationed there for a year of his service and the habit followed him back to the U.S.
Robison is not alone in this experience. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, two in 10 veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder or other mental health problems also experience a substance abuse disorder.
Some veterans turn to worse alternatives. In 2019 alone, 6,261 veterans took their lives.
Truck driving gave Robison the remedy to get him back on track, and now, he’s using the career which helped him to help others.
“I’m not the only one who came into trucking to curb a habit," said Robison. "The structured lifestyle and the hours of trucking definitely helped with that. But you have to have a strong will to quit. When my father passed away, he tasked me with taking care of my mother. It made me determined to do better.”
For those who are ready to take hold of a career and quit their substance use, he said, “A program like Mission 22 could help (veterans) get back to their life. Because you aren’t done yet and you don’t need to go too early.”
With the Mission 22 truck, Robison is bringing visibility to the battle against veteran suicide. The mission supports veterans facing mental health challenges through treatment programs, raising awareness of such issues, and honoring and memorializing fallen veterans in combat and issues at home.
“We are super excited to be able to partner with Mission 22 and their fight against veteran suicide,” said Gottemoeller. “This truck is both a small token of appreciation honoring the sacrifices our troops make for our freedom and democracy, as well as visibility to the effects of some veterans’ service.”
Besides the logo of partnership with Mission 22, Truck 929 bears the seals of the five branches of the military, two servicemen, and the signature of all Continental Express’ military trucks: American flags spread across the top of the cab, shaped as eagle wings.
“When my father passed away, about a week later I got to see this bald eagle taking off about 15-20 feet away from me and it stayed flying alongside my truck as I drove.”
The sighting was more than a rare occurrence, it was a reminder to Robison that he’s on the right path.
Continental Express is located in Sidney, Ohio. It has some 550 drivers.