Justin Zayas grew up in the Bronx and is one of five children. His father, grandfather, and great-grandfather were all in the Army, as is one of his brothers, and another serves in the Air Force. Zayas always knew he’d enlist; he just didn’t know when. The decision became clear on September 11, 2001.
His uncle, a fire chief, was a victim of the aftermath of the terrorist attacks. “He survived but got serious cancer from all the chemicals that day and within six months he was gone,” Zayas says. “Cancer took over his body.”
It was time to serve, but Zayas had dropped out of high school, so it took him a while to earn his GED. He enlisted in the Army in 2006 and served two deployments to Iraq. During his nine-year career, he was a military police officer and wheel vehicle mechanic. Zayas met his wife Christa while stationed in Fort Drum, and she is still active-duty Army and is based in Newport News, Virginia.
When he rejoined civilian life, Zayas tackled various jobs but wasn’t happy. He considered college but wanted to save his G.I. Bill for one of his three children: Killian, Makenzie and Hannah. Then three Army buddies that he’d been deployed with became truck drivers. “I started talking to them and saw how much they enjoyed it,” he says. When even more friends became truck drivers, Zayas began looking into the profession for himself. After narrowing his search down to two companies, he called the recruiter at one and she was abrupt and hung up on him twice without answering questions. So, he called Prime.
“Julie Jones was my recruiter and she was absolutely amazing,” Zayas says. “As I was talking to her, she was answering every question I had on my notepad before I asked it. I felt like it was fitting perfectly with what I was wanting. Within a week I was done with paperwork.” Zayas joined Prime January 7, 2019. The fact that the company paid for his training was a huge perk because he didn’t have to cash in his G.I. Bill.
The shift from military to civilian life is challenging, but Zayas says it’s been easy at Prime because he is using many of the same skills he learned in the military. And as an added bonus, Zayas says he discovered life on the road is actually more comfortable than he expected. “In the military you aren’t given so much luxury,” he says. “These trucks are meant for comfort. In the Army, the vehicles are designed to protect you and withstand a bomb. I am not used to a nice bed and a microwave,” he says chuckling.
Zaya’s long-term goal is to become an instructor for Prime Student Drivers. “I spent a lot of time away from the U.S.,” he says. “My biggest thing is being able to see so much of the country I have not seen before. It helps immensely. When I am on the road that helps with stress. For me being with Prime is very military-related. It’s adaptable for anyone coming out of the military, and it’s extremely comfortable mentally.”
Read more in the Prime magazine, Prime Ways – Honoring our Veterans
Interested in driving for Prime? Apply online at www.primeinc.com/?r=blog or give our recruiters a call at 888-664-9121.