A blue and white semi truck driving down a hill-lined road

Sara Stewart

Former U.S. Army mechanic Sara Stewart came to Nebraska Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) in a unique way. After more than six years in the Army, she injured her back and received a medical discharge. She had to consider other career options and began to explore truck driving. Drivers make a national average of nearly $50,000 per year, and Nebraska’s significant agriculture industry makes truck driving an in-demand occupation.

Sara looked into driving trucks with a local company called Hills Brothers. In order to drive for them, she needed to complete training through JTL Truck Driving Training and earn her Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) and a series of endorsements. To help with the costs for this training, JTL recommended she speak with VR about a program called Career Pathway Advancement Project (CPAP).

Funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA), CPAP focuses on advancing the careers of workers with disabilities, especially in the fields of construction, manufacturing, and transportation. CPAP has a dual approach to supporting workers with disabilities. The first approach is reaching out directly to previous VR clients to ask if they would like support to advance their careers. The second approach is collaborating with businesses to support current employees with disabilities in advancing their careers and then backfilling those positions with new VR clients as the original employees advance. This second approach is how Sara learned about the program.

It was clear to VR that Sara had the skills necessary to become a successful truck driver; she just lacked the funds. VR funded Sara’s JTL training, and she passed all the exams with great success. She has been an employee with Hill Brothers for several years now and loves getting to see the country she serves from the seat of her truck.

For more success stories, visit the LEAD Center’s new webpage, Employment Success Stories.