According to the US Department of Justice, each year 200,000 US military service members embark on a new mission: transitioning to civilian life. For many, finding a new career that’s well aligned with the skills learned in the military is no simple task. However, a career in freight transportation presents a natural next step for service members – one that’s as rewarding as it is familiar.
At XPO, we’re committed to hiring and retaining military personnel across all branches, as well as the Reserves, the National Guard, military spouses, and longer-term veterans. Our efforts are driven by our veteran steering committee, which focuses on everything from recruitment, to forging strong connections with military organizations, to engaging XPO’s military employee population.
In 2022, Alex Bedtelyon, an Air Force veteran with a 14-year career, transitioned to civilian life and was exploring his next career move. He decided to search for something completely different from the duties he performed while enlisted, which ranged from logistics to cryptologic language analysis. Yet, he also wanted a job where he could leverage the skill sets he’d developed.
“I was hoping to fulfill duties that were commensurate with my military background as a team leader,” says Alex. “The Air Force gave me a pretty solid understanding of both team and time.”
Alex came across a job posting for XPO’s Field Management Training (FMT) program, a 14-week comprehensive career development program aimed to build up the skill sets of the next generation of leaders and managers in freight transportation. He was accepted shortly after, completed the program with flying colors, and now works as a Freight Operations Supervisor.
“I’ve had an incredible experience so far, and I’m honored to have met and learned from some awesome freight professionals,” says Alex.
The FMT program is one of our cornerstone programs for entry-level and professional development at XPO. It combines teaching sessions about leadership, communication, strategic thinking and operational skills, with opportunities for trainees to build relationships across the business. Upon completion of the program, trainees are well-positioned to take on a Freight Operations Supervisor role at one of our service centers.
While the program isn’t designated specifically for veterans, over 26% of 2022’s graduating class formerly worked in the military, demonstrating the value it has as a transitional program for service members.
Speaking of his experience, Alex says that “the FMT program definitely provided me with exposure to almost every role’s aspect within a service center. Along with gaining the necessary tech knowledge required to perform daily tasks, our class was presented with a detailed baseline of things to expect on shift and tactics for amplifying productivity, all in a very encouraging environment.”
Nate Jeter, an Army veteran with a career spanning more than 12 years as an Ammunition Sergeant, enjoyed the prospect of leveraging his experience in managing the logistics and warehousing of ammunition to manage the “organized chaos” that a career in freight transportation provides. Like Alex, he applied directly through the FMT program to join XPO and graduated in 2022.
Nate especially enjoyed having a structured learning process that covered all aspects of the business.
“The whole (FMT) process is structured, and that’s what the military process is based on – structure. It felt so familiar,” says Nate. “You get to learn how inbound works and how it intertwines with the pickup and delivery shift, and how the pickup and delivery shift ties with outbound, and what outbound does for the freight assembly center – it creates this whole lifecycle.”
Both within and beyond the FMT program, Alex and Nate agree that there is a sense of camaraderie throughout the company.
“Actually, a few other recent FMT grads and I are in the process of starting up a leadership-focused book club to continue the awesome dialogues we had during the length of our training.”
XPO strives to ensure military-connected employees feel appreciated and a part of the larger company community. This includes organizing participation in local community events, like the 19th Annual Pat Tillman Run in Arizona, which honors the former Arizona Cardinals NFL safety who died serving as a US Army Ranger in Afghanistan in 2004. Further, this includes honoring veteran drivers who’ve hit safety milestones with custom, military-wrapped trucks.
“We have an outstanding engagement committee here that always takes our input when it comes to events we can celebrate together,” says Nate. “It’s simple stuff like that that reminds me of the military, when we feel like a family.”
Our military programming and community efforts are receiving recognition outside of XPO. In April, we received the VETS Indexes 4-Star Employer as part of their 2023 Employer Awards for our commitment to creating an inclusive workplace where veterans and members of the military community can build rewarding careers.
To learn more about our veteran and military service member career programs, please visit our military careers site.