Gregory veteran makes transition from Military chef to civilian truck driver

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Life after navy is usually a difficult highway for veterans attempting to navigate into the civilian world.

Ashley Leiva from Gregory is a type of veterans.

Life as a trucker is an open highway as of late for Ashley Leiva. But it surely wasn’t precisely the trail she thought she would finally take.

But, being a girl in a male-dominated area comes naturally for her.

Ashley served 15 years of navy service as a Sergeant First Class in
Senior Culinary Administration. Her service included two fight excursions of obligation in Iraq.

Military life offered Ashley — a single mother of 5-year-old Olivia — a gentle paycheck and stability.

“I recognize it,” Ashley stated. “It taught me a lot. to understand the little issues, I had.”

However a bump within the highway would pressure Ashley to shift gears when her mom, Noemi, handed away in February 2021.

Ashley instantly ended her navy service six months earlier than she deliberate.

“She was every part to me,” stated Ashley of Noemi, additionally a single mother. “There was by no means a time we had been with out as a result of she was at all times — she was at all times working.”

Noemi Leiva hoped to retire after driving for her personal trucking firm for 20 years. Whereas most cancers might have ended Noemi’s highway journey, it was simply the beginning of Ashley’s new profession.

She and her brother Johnny turned to Del Mar Faculty. She took a category for veterans who’re altering lanes to civilian life and obtained her business driver’s license.

“She got here in with a objective and she or he fulfilled her objective, and now she’s fulfilling one in every of her goals,” stated Juan Soto, navy veteran and teacher at Del Mar Faculty’s Transportation Coaching Companies

“I find it irresistible. It is one thing I am going to do for the remainder of my life,” smiled Ashley.

Ashley is now behind the wheel of her mother’s enterprise. To honor her mother, she and her brother modified the corporate’s identify from Leiva Trucking, to Noemi Trucking.

“Simply having that identify stick round — it simply means loads,” Ashley stated.

And there may be some thrilling information for Ashley: Del Mar Faculty nominated her for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Transition Trucking Driving for Excellence Award program.

Ashley is one in every of 11 and the one feminine finalist with an opportunity to win a $155,000 Kenworth T680 Subsequent Gen Truck, absolutely outfitted rig.

Her choice was based mostly on numerous standards together with a profitable transition from
navy into civilian life as a truck driver, and their give attention to security within the career.

The Transition Trucking initiative started in 2016 and is a part of the U.S.
Chamber of Commerce Basis’s Rent Our Heroes Program.

Ashley will discover out Dec. 16 if she wins.

Extra Veterans In Focus tales can be found right here, together with assets for native veterans.

Contact Veterans In Focus reporter Pat Simon at pat.simon@kristv.com