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SEP 2018

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12 G.I. JOBS | SEPTEMBER 2018 | GIJOBS.COM SUCCESS STORY SENIOR ENLISTED BY DAN FAZIO TONY CRUZ got a text message instructing him to call the president and CEO of McKenzie Tank Lines, the trucking company where Cruz started working in June 2015. A truck driver who is used to spending hours alone navigating the roads of the United States and Canada, Cruz imagined the worst. "My first thought was, 'Did I do something bad that I'm going to get fired for?'" Cruz recalls. "I called Mr. Shaeffer and he gave me the news that I was MTL Driver of Year. I could not believe it." Cruz was the first driver to be named Driver of the Year by McKenzie Tank Lines during its 69 years in business. Previously the company named a Driver of the Month but did not designate an annual honor. Cruz was Driver of the Month in January 2017. Not bad for an Army veteran who lost his right leg below the knee in Afghanistan. Cruz grew up in Puerto Rico, enlisted in 1993 and served as a platoon sergeant of an infantry company. He also served as a drill sergeant. After being wounded in 2012, Cruz spent eight months recuperating and was medically retired in 2014. Cruz always wanted to drive trucks and see America from a cab. So he trained at Florida Panhandle State College to earn a Class A Commercial Driver's License. As an amputee, Cruz also had to earn a Skill Performance Evaluation certificate from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to prove he could safely drive a tractor- trailer. "The only doubt or concern I had was that with my amputation, would I be able to sit for hours?" Cruz says. "I was striving to be a safe driver." Mission accomplished. It took less than two years on the road with McKenzie Tank Lines to earn the designation Driver of the Month for January 2017. Company officials used a driver safety scorecard and other My best advice for transitioning service members is to plan and to find something they will enjoy. This career works for me because of the independence and the responsibility the job requires. TONY'S TIPS safety-related data to determine the 2017 Driver of the Year. "Tony is definitely one of our finest drivers, and I am happy to say also one of our most good- natured," says Paulette McElroy, human resources director for McKenzie Tank Lines. "He was immediately pleased at the prospect of sharing his second career thoughts (in G.I. Jobs) with other transitioning GIs." His reward was to be assigned a 2019 Volvo VNL 740 flat-roof sleeper truck to drive. Cruz says he hopes he's still driving for McKenzie 10 years down the road. But there's a catch. "The pressure's on now, because I have a standard to keep," he says. Tony Cruz Commercial Truck Driver McKenzie Tank Lines Inc. Panama City, Fla. Age: 49 Military service: Sergeant First Class (E-7), Army (1993-2014) MOS: Infantry (11B) OIF: 2002-2003 OEF: 2003-2004; May 2012-Aug 2012 SAFE SERGEANT Wounded warrior earns Driver of the Year honor for his safe driving.

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