Guidance Or Thoughts Your Choice. Veteran Specific.

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Jason K.'s Comment
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So these forum posts are limited to 5500 characters, probably for good reason. Hahahahahaha!! I will break down my original 8000 character post. This will be long please humor me and read it entirely. I am very honest and hope to find a few of you that can be honest as well. I will try my best to make it as straightforward as I can, but please offer some patience.

Backstory: I am currently 35 years old. I went to school, got my CDL A and signed with Schneider between August and October 2016 I worked with Schneider for about 2-3 months before leaving. I did put in a 2-week notice, had no issues at all. To be honest, I loved it, or something about the whole career, but I struggled which I guess is expected but seemed like I struggled much harder than my other rookie peers. On the Veteran side of things, I served 12 years in the U.S. Army as Infantry, Combat Engineer, and MP with 2 tours to Iraq. After service, I struggled like most vets do, ended up divorced and left with the bill. Still paying that off by the way. I went to college and used my entire GI Bill getting my BS in Recording Arts and an MS in Entertainment Business. I owned an extremely small, nothing to call home about record label for a very short time, and struggled in that industry also. To note during this time I had acquired 90% disability rating through the VA for Tinnitus, PTSD, and Sleep Apnea.

I returned home and after some time decided since almost all of my family had been in the trucking industry I would give it a try. My father drove for 20+ years, my mother and stepmother both drove OTR , and I currently have a very close cousin that is now a local driver that has been driving for 20+ years and is still going. We could say trucking is in my blood.

Why did I leave? The reason I left was due to ignorance. I had the opportunity to apply for IU through the VA for my PTSD and Sleep Apnea. I know that under IU I cannot make over the poverty level, 12K, and some change. My thought at the time was I needed this in order to get the treatment I needed and then I would return to the workforce/industry. When the rating came I received IU and P&T(Permanent & Total), and I wasn't expecting the P&T. I will admit Trucking was tough, but I expected it to be, however with 70% PTSD and 50% Sleep Apnea it was much rougher than I thought, but I dealt with it and kept pushing on until I left.

Where am I now? It has been roughly a year, I have failed to get the treatment that the "VA" felt was needed to alleviate my issues. I refuse to take the medications they keep pushing on me, I'm not trying to be dumbed down. I haven't once worn my CPAP and refuse to do that also, why? Well, I recently discovered that my adenoids from a tonsillectomy done at age 16-17 have grown back and may be what is causing or worsening the Sleep Apnea discovered while in the service.

What's the situation/issue? I'm feeling better. I'm not perfect. I have a lot to work on, but I can't just sit here fairly able-bodied not having a purpose, a job, something I enjoyed doing so much, within some reason, Hahahaha. Yeah, I have hobbies and interests, but trucking is where I want to be, or sitting on my proverbial ass doing nothing only having just enough money to survive and stare at a computer or do meaningless tasks; those are the only options I care about, and the former seems much better.

My thoughts: Option 1 - Going back to work: Continued treatment for the PTSD is still possible with the VA's Telehealth option where I can take a tablet computer with me and have my "office visits" via the tablet with an internet connection which I have a Verizon Jetpack. For the Sleep Apnea, I could technically wear that god awful mask just to meet the FMCSA's and companies standard of usage and I'm willing to do that while getting further health corrections made. I have found self-coping strategies for the PTSD through reading materials, apps, and videos found online and through the VA and I'm feeling much better. I will make more money by dropping the IU and P&T. I will stay at 90% which is $2,000 a month and can make as much money working as I want. The fear: percentages will drop and there is a possibility of finding myself in a position where I can't work and make no money through the VA at the same time, and struggling to regain my IU and P&T or higher percentages.

Option 2 - Keeping what I have: I can keep what I have, apply for SSI and make close to $4,000 a month. I have debts, bills, etc... and SSI is no guarantee, so let's assume I just make the $3,000 a month. I will barely survive, can't rent a place or buy a home for the next 5-10 years if not longer because of debts and bills. I will be bored out of my mind. I can't start a new hobby because those cost money that I don't have already.

Ultimate Question/s: Should I give up the IU and P&T and return to trucking? If so, I'm not sure where I'd fit in with regard to FT, PT, Slip seat (if possible), Local, Regional , OTR, Dry Van , Reefer , etc.... All the various areas in trucking. I know that is kind of up for me to determine but some guidance or thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Do I keep what I have and continue to feel miserable?

That's it in a nutshell. Not everything I'd like to say, but enough.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

CSA:

Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)

The CSA is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities that are related to commercial motor vehicle

FMCSA:

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

The FMCSA was established within the Department of Transportation on January 1, 2000. Their primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.

What Does The FMCSA Do?

  • Commercial Drivers' Licenses
  • Data and Analysis
  • Regulatory Compliance and Enforcement
  • Research and Technology
  • Safety Assistance
  • Support and Information Sharing

Sleep Apnea:

A physical disorder in which you have pauses in your breathing, or take shallow breaths, during sleep. These pauses can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Normal breathing will usually resume, sometimes with a loud choking sound or snort.

In obstructive sleep apnea, your airways become blocked or collapse during sleep, causing the pauses and shallow breathing.

It is a chronic condition that will require ongoing management. It affects about 18 million people in the U.S.

CPAP:

Constant Positive Airway Pressure

CPAP is a breathing assist device which is worn over the mouth or nose. It provides nighttime relief for individuals who suffer from Sleep Apnea.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

Fm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

Dry Van:

A trailer or truck that that requires no special attention, such as refrigeration, that hauls regular palletted, boxed, or floor-loaded freight. The most common type of trailer in trucking.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Nighthawk's Comment
member avatar

Option 2 - Keeping what I have: I can keep what I have, apply for SSI and make close to $4,000 a month. I have debts, bills, etc... and SSI is no guarantee, so let's assume I just make the $3,000 a month.

Where did you get those figures? I ask because my partner is on SSI and gets nowhere near that. She barely scrapes by and I honestly don't see how she survived before having the benefit of my income. My answer here is based on my experience with her and watching what she's going through. If she had the ability to safely hold down a job, she'd jump on that **** without hesitation. The restrictions she has are ridiculous. She can't have more than $2000 in assets at a time. So, when we sell her Jeep, we have to put the funds in another account not linked to her name. It's crap, really. I say, if you are able - drive. Don't rely on a cracked system to keep you afloat.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Jason K.'s Comment
member avatar
Where did you get those figures? I ask because my partner is on SSI and gets nowhere near that. She barely scrapes by and I honestly don't see how she survived before having the benefit of my income. My answer here is based on my experience with her and watching what she's going through. If she had the ability to safely hold down a job, she'd jump on that **** without hesitation. The restrictions she has are ridiculous. She can't have more than $2000 in assets at a time. So, when we sell her Jeep, we have to put the funds in another account not linked to her name. It's crap, really. I say, if you are able - drive. Don't rely on a cracked system to keep you afloat.

I'm a vet at 90% which is a 2900-3000 paycheck, so the 4000 comes from the fact that my SSI shows 1100 max that I could obtain each month with full SSI. Vets with PTSD typically don't get approved for actual SSI, they get what is called MVP, Medical-Vocational Payments which Starts at 735 and goes up. So I just guessed that between the VA's 2900 and say 800 - 900 from SSI, I will make "approximately" 4000 a month.

I also do agree with your statement of "if I can work don't use the cracked up system". I already feel badly getting the benefits I get when I have all my limbs, can walk, talk, and move. PTSD is the silent killer or silent wound. I do have it, it isn't fun and I do believe I deserve the compensation, but it doesn't make me feel any better, so there is that.....I don't think that I am so severe that I can't work, but I do have extremely bad days and daily struggles, I just think that if I stick it out and get better I should be fine, and the potential to make plenty of money in trucking to correct past financial mistakes and have a comfortable life and future is extremely attractive. Thanks for your reply Misty.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Jason K.'s Comment
member avatar

Correction to my last reply I'm 90% with IU which pays me at 100% so I make 2900 a month

Tom W.'s Comment
member avatar

Trucking does not sound like the right career for you.

You got to be able to remain focused when things get bad in this career. There will be plenty more times when you will want to quit working because you will realize "Hey, why am I putting up with all this stress when I could be making nearly the same amount from my entitlements?"

You need to do whatever it takes to accomplish your task. If you refuse to even treat your sleep apnea then that should be evidence enough to yourself that you are not motivated enough yet to succeed at this.

Sleep Apnea:

A physical disorder in which you have pauses in your breathing, or take shallow breaths, during sleep. These pauses can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Normal breathing will usually resume, sometimes with a loud choking sound or snort.

In obstructive sleep apnea, your airways become blocked or collapse during sleep, causing the pauses and shallow breathing.

It is a chronic condition that will require ongoing management. It affects about 18 million people in the U.S.

Jason K.'s Comment
member avatar

Trucking does not sound like the right career for you.

You got to be able to remain focused when things get bad in this career. There will be plenty more times when you will want to quit working because you will realize "Hey, why am I putting up with all this stress when I could be making nearly the same amount from my entitlements?"

You need to do whatever it takes to accomplish your task. If you refuse to even treat your sleep apnea then that should be evidence enough to yourself that you are not motivated enough yet to succeed at this.

I thank you for your honesty, Tom. I don't believe that it is a matter of "if it is the right career for me", remaining focused in bad situations I did for 12 years; I have very limited issues with that if not some coping strategies. It's more of a matter of should I have a career, or should I be another leach on the system taking my entitlements/benefits. I didn't quit because it was tough I quit because you can't work with IU.

On the pay side, I actually have the potential of making my entitlements plus the potential of a 30-50K or higher salary from trucking which in my case would be a 50-70K or higher salary with my entitlements included, the financial ability to pay off debts and make a nice nest egg for later. Whereas if I just keep what I have I'm fixed at only 35K with a possibility of making 45K with SSI, not working, basically just rotting away. With that said the fixed amount, I keep the rest of my life. The only possible downside is if I go back to work I risk losing most of my VA entitlements or having them reduced and fighting to get them back without another income.

If you read the entirety of the post though, it should have explained that I'm willing to do what is needed/required to correct my medical conditions in the process of driving, I think I can stick it out and deal with it even if that means part-time.

I guess it is a matter of "is the risk worth it", and I don't know. What I do know is I'm bored out of my mind sitting around, nor do I have the money to get out of the debt that I have anytime soon or an interest in spending any money on just hobbies and interests to keep me engaged or "working". I'm in a bit of a pickle here. I'm either stuck "suffering" as I call it miserable for the next 10-15 years, or I go back to work do a job I enjoy and get unstuck in a matter of 5-10 or fewer years.

Sleep Apnea:

A physical disorder in which you have pauses in your breathing, or take shallow breaths, during sleep. These pauses can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Normal breathing will usually resume, sometimes with a loud choking sound or snort.

In obstructive sleep apnea, your airways become blocked or collapse during sleep, causing the pauses and shallow breathing.

It is a chronic condition that will require ongoing management. It affects about 18 million people in the U.S.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

You say you want to go back to trucking, that it's in your blood so-to-speak.

You were already in the game and had to leave; stated that you "struggled", left for ignorance.

Wanting it is one thing. We all start out wanting it, but very few make it through year 1. That's reality.

I always advise folks to follow the path that makes them happy. If you truly believe Trucking is that path, then you must get your "health" and your "head" right. Put yourself mentally back in the truck and face the cause of your struggles, the point that made you decide to quit and have an advance plan on how to manage and work your way through it. You gotta do that or you will end up right back where you are now.

Commit to it, focus and make it happen, realizing it's likely you need to start from ground zero and explain, providing documentation what you have been doing since you quit Schneider.

Good luck.

Tom W.'s Comment
member avatar

If you want this bad enough then it is possible. You got to have a Whole Lot of love for this job to stick it out though. Some of my real bad days I wish I had stayed in the service myself over starting this career. Even after several years I just recently had a day where I wanted to get out of my truck and just leave it there on the highway blocking all traffic and walk away.

That is great that you want to get off of the dependence of government. If you really want this then do what you can right now. I do not know about all the meds that the VA perscribed, I honestly stay as far away from any type of pills as I can. But you got to get yourself fit, the main thing is find out how to fix your sleep apnea. It is impossible to have a career long term in trucking without resolving that. Doing all this should be proof enough to yourself that you are ready for getting back on the road.

Good luck to you.

Sleep Apnea:

A physical disorder in which you have pauses in your breathing, or take shallow breaths, during sleep. These pauses can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Normal breathing will usually resume, sometimes with a loud choking sound or snort.

In obstructive sleep apnea, your airways become blocked or collapse during sleep, causing the pauses and shallow breathing.

It is a chronic condition that will require ongoing management. It affects about 18 million people in the U.S.

Keith G.'s Comment
member avatar

I'll pass off my 0.2c as another fellow Vet of 8 years and my own assortment of baggage.

First off, I highly encourage you to fully through with what the doctors are prescribing you for medication and treatment. Why even bother draining the limited VA appointments and treatment options if you are not even going to use it correctly? Yea medication sucks, you spent your career as a rough and tough infantry. That looked at those who went to sick-call as wimps or pogs whichever term you selected. Nothing wrong with wanting to tough something out, but if you've need and sought treatment I encourage you to follow through with it.

I perhaps get and understand the mindset, trust me I've been there and still have months of rough patches. But when I feel the slip I make sure to get the help and follow through with what's instructed.

As for Trucking, it may not be as stressful as the sandbox, patrols, or whatever else you may have experienced in the service. But it comes with it's own stress factors that you may not be ready for till you get things in order. Your highly focused for 11-14 hours a day, you sleep in tight confines, solitude, tight timelines, and other factors that can greatly wear down even hardened individuals.

My honest and short answer. Is complete the treatment you've started, get your medical issues settled or under control and take a honest look inside yourself. Is spending weeks or months out on the road really what you want? If you are looking to make some side cash plenty of other career fields that might better mesh with your skill set and education.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Jason K.'s Comment
member avatar

Now, this is the kinda feedback I was looking for. Thank you so much, G-Town sir. I do want state some clarifying things and continue the dialogue if you don't mind responding. Another long one, sorry.

I didn't have the room to explain quite everything I would have liked with only a 5500 character limit, I can't apologize for that, but I'll try to lay it out now.

I understand the statistics on those that don't make it past a year let alone weeks or a few months. I was quite upset when I left, again not because I wanted to but because I was told I can't work while getting IU from the VA. Yeah, I didn't like my dispatcher sometimes, it happens, but we both made it work and in 2-3 months had a good working relationship when I left, he was sad about it also he really enjoyed working with me.

By "Struggled", I struggled just like everyone supposedly does starting out, but for me, it was a bit more due to the medical/mental health issues. I didn't have a "quit" mentality, I had a fear of big mistakes mentality, again which everyone has when they start, and again, mine being a bit more due to those medical/mental health issues. I did voluntarily choose to leave in order to claim the IU, hence the ignorance, but did so because I thought or felt that it was my medical/mental health issues causing the problem when in all actuality it is just the nature of the business that I didn't prepare for. I have fight in me, I will hustle, and I will adapt and overcome to hard situations, but my mentality for trucking at that time was one that assumed it wasn't as bad as it seemed so to speak. I apologize if my wording is off. I will agree and own that during that time I was not of the right mindset, and my health was a small contributing factor.

I have since, through self-reflection, and some useful mental health education, learned that my extra fear was a normal response for me being a vet, and I also learned the coping strategies and how to manage and deal with things out of my control. Like breathing, counting, positive reinforcing thoughts, etc... I actually feel kind of stupid I didn't think of them, to begin with back then.

As for the Sleep Apnea , I will own that. I should be taking care of it, no excuses there, and a bad attitude. I believe as my mental health has gotten better over the past year I have also realized this, which is why I say I'm willing to do what is needed and required. I feel like I have a much better chance now with what I have learned and used in the past year. For the last year, I have done exactly what you mention "putting myself back in a truck mentally, and faced the issues" and determined my best coping mechanisms to get through difficult situations. I'm not perfect, but no one is. There is no way for me to find out if it actually works until I do it. It works sitting in a room, but I need to get in a truck and drive to find out.

Unfortunately, I have no documentation to provide to anyone to show what I've been doing since I left, other than the websites, videos, and apps that I have used, for myself to get to where I am now. Like I said I still have much to work on, but I think I'm in a good position to get back at it.

My last note/s: I'm not against the ways of the trucking industry, how to deal, how to hustle, etc... Its the way it works, I can't control that and I will handle myself accordingly. My biggest concern right now is whether it is worth the risk. If I do this, I do not immediately lose my entitlements/benefits, but there is a medium possibility that the ratings will be reduced, so long as I am actually getting better. With that said it will be much more difficult, not impossible, but more difficult to regain my benefits. I'm not worried about something happening again in 2-6 months, I'm talking after 5+ years if something happens, hypothetically. I could potentially face forcing myself to find work for quite a long time if not the rest of my life if I cannot regain those benefits. Regaining the benefits can be done, I just have to show proof that my medical/mental health condition affects my ability to work again.

Sorry for the following mental graphic, but it is like an extreme accident involving a child, a wife, someone extremely close to you the doctors save them they are doing well and then bam they are now in a coma and could possibly be brain dead. Can you live without them, can you let them go, and find a way to deal, or do you just sit and wait and deal with everything while you wait for them to wake up, and then deal with endless tasks if they are brain dead?

Please give any more feedback you can with what I have said, I really appreciate it.

Sleep Apnea:

A physical disorder in which you have pauses in your breathing, or take shallow breaths, during sleep. These pauses can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Normal breathing will usually resume, sometimes with a loud choking sound or snort.

In obstructive sleep apnea, your airways become blocked or collapse during sleep, causing the pauses and shallow breathing.

It is a chronic condition that will require ongoing management. It affects about 18 million people in the U.S.

Dispatcher:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

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