Program teams up vets, employers to help each other

The U.S. Army Oath of Enlistment ceremony at USF Holland's Wayland terminal on Friday, May 19, 2017.

WAYLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — For the four young people taking the U.S. Army Oath of Enlistment Friday morning, the oath was familiar. But the locations was a little different.

They raised their right hand in the yard at trucking company USF Holland’s Wayland terminal.

USF Holland is the latest company to sign up for the Army’s Partnership for Youth Success program, or PAYS. The four recruits took their oath as part of a ceremony highlighting USF Holland joining the PAYS program.

For the four new recruits, the payoff from PAYS will come after their hitch is up.

Participating employers, like USF Holland, guarantee priority hiring status for veterans — both active and reserve. In turn, PAYS helps employers struggling to fill spots.

“We’re in the process of looking for upwards of 400 plus people across the board,” said USF Holland President Scott Ware.

Skills in logistics and heavy equipment operations make many veterans a perfect fit for a company like USF Holland.

“There’s also management opportunities, front line supervisory opportunities and certainly there’s other skills that we can utilize in other roles and capacities in the company,” said Ware.

For veterans, PAYS provides a light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to their post-military career.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall unemployment rate for 2016 in the country was 4.85 percent. The rate among all veterans was 4.3 percent. But for veterans who served active duty any time after 2001, the rate was 5.1 percent.

“The employer that is participating in this program is going to get a more disciplined, well-trained and better prepared employee than they will see just hired off the streets,” said U.S. Army Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Charles J. Cogger.

USF Holland’s Ware says most truckers with his company will make in the ballpark of $50,000 per year.