March 30, 2021


OCALA, FL— The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes (HOH) presented U.S. Army veteran Ernest Knight with a 2021 Toyota 4Runner during today’s ceremony at the DeLuca Toyota dealership.

“Hiring Our Heroes is proudly celebrating its tenth year of impact. Our success has been dependent upon the strength of public-private partnerships with organizations such as the Department of Veterans Affairs and Toyota. We are thrilled to present a new vehicle to Ernest Knight, a third-generation veteran, who proudly served in the U.S. Army,” said Adam Rocke, Senior Director of Events and Programs at Hiring Our Heroes.

Originally from Portsmouth, Virginia, Knight, 31, enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2013 and worked as a food service specialist. While he was deployed to Kuwait during Operation Enduring Freedom, Knight suffered an injury that ended his military career. He was honorably discharged at the rank of specialist in 2015.

With help from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Veteran Readiness and Employment program in Salem, Virginia, Knight received personalized counseling and educational support to guide him during his military transition.

Knight was awarded the vehicle as a result of his winning entry into the annual Hiring Our Heroes’ Committed to America’s Heroes sweepstakes conducted late last year. The sweepstakes was open to all active duty, reserve and guard service members, veterans and military spouses and more than 85,000 entries were received.

“Hiring Our Heroes and Toyota are working together to provide an opportunity for military families by offering valuable career development and training, online resources, and education. At DeLuca Toyota, we’ve been serving the North Central Florida community since 1978 and we’ve always taken an active role in supporting the community. We have several staff members that are veterans who have served our country. We are thrilled that this year’s sweepstakes winner is from the Ocala, Florida area,” said Frank DeLuca, owner and president of DeLuca Toyota.

Knight has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Radford University and recently earned his master’s degree in criminal justice with an emphasis in critical incident management from Saint Leo University. Knight teaches Zumba at a local sport club. He is currently seeking full-time employment and exploring opportunities to help his fellow veterans pursue their education and career goals. He lives with his fiancé, Julio, in Ocala, Florida.

“I am truly happy and grateful to receive a Toyota 4Runner from an organization like Hiring Our Heroes because they really care about veterans,” Knight said. “When you leave the military, it’s a scary thing because you have to adjust and transition to something else. It makes me feel good to know that Hiring Our Heroes is helping those that sacrificed so much for our country.”

About Hiring Our Heroes
Hiring Our Heroes is a nationwide initiative to help veterans, transitioning service members, and military spouses find meaningful employment. Working with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s vast network of state and local chambers and other strategic partners from the public, private and nonprofit sectors, Hiring Our Heroes has helped hundreds of thousands of veterans and military spouses find meaningful employment through more than 1,100 job fairs in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, and on military installations overseas; a suite of free online career-based resources; and the Hiring 500,000 Heroes campaign; and the Hiring 100,000 Military Spouses campaign.

About Toyota
Toyota (NYSE:TM) has been a part of the cultural fabric in the U.S. and North America for 60 years, and is committed to advancing the mobility of the military community as it enters the civilian workforce. Since 2011 Toyota has partnered with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes on the Personal Branding Initiative to address the issue of unemployment among veterans, transitioning service members and military spouses by helping more than 100,000 job seekers translate their military skills, volunteer experiences and expertise into meaningful employment. Through the development of first-of-their-kind, free online personal branding tools – for veterans and transitioning service members and for military spouses – Toyota continues to demonstrate its ongoing commitment to help the military community successfully integrate into the American workforce.

About the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation (USCCF) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce dedicated to strengthening America’s long-term competitiveness by addressing developments that affect our nation, our economy, and the global business environment.