Trucking Programs Available for Veterans

The annual passing of 11/11 came last Friday. For us in the states, this date marks Veteran’s Day, a federal holiday honoring military veterans of the United States Armed Forces.

Our country’s veterans face a unique challenge (among many) when transitioning from military life to the everyday workforce.

While gaining valuable skills and experience in their time serving, many veterans do not possess certifications or degrees to get their foot in the door. With resumes that don’t easily translate, it’s unfortunately common for our men and women who have served to be left in a job hunt purgatory.

Federal programs that assist with veterans entering trucking

While these job hurdles for veterans transcends any industry alone, certain steps have been taken by the government to provide resources and programs to assist with veterans pursuing careers in trucking.

Trucking as a career valve for veterans became more pronounced the last two years thanks to Covid-related impacts and historic levels of freight being moved. With the industry pushed to the brink, a depleted workforce only fanned the flames further.

That said, these federal programs and resources were put in place acknowledging that veterans could help patch this void for needed drivers. Furthermore, the unique skills and knowledge these service members gained from military experience could translate into a perfect fit for a driver position.

The following are a few FMCSA (an agency under the U.S. DOT) trucking programs and resources for veterans.

Skills Test Waiver

This program allows drivers with two years’ experience of safely operating heavy military vehicles to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL) without taking the driving, or skills, test. Available in every state, more than 40,000 service members have used this waiver program.

DOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg mentioned the department’s desires to recruit more veterans into trucking in his public address to industry stakeholders. Buttigieg, a veteran himself, alludes to the experience he and other veterans have had with heavy equipment operation. For a closer look!

Veterans can use the waiver if currently licensed and are or were employed within the past 12 months in a military position that operated a military motor vehicle equivalent to a typical commercial motor vehicle in trucking.

Eligible veterans can submit an application, along with a standard CDL application, to whatever state license agency they are residents at.

Even Exchange Program (Knowledge Test Waiver)

Another program allows for veterans to be exempt from the knowledge test component when obtaining a CDL. In other words, when coupled with the skills test waiver, a qualified driver can exchange their military license for a CDL.

The qualifications for this waiver are the same for skills test one. However, unlike the skills waiver, not every state participates in this program.

The Even Exchange Program is only available in California, Georgia, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Mexico, South Carolina, Virginia, Vermont, Wisconsin, and West Virginia.

Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) Operator Safety Training Grant

This grant program, better known by its acronym CMVOST, was actually established by Congress in 2005 under a transportation act.

CMVOST has two primary goals listed. The first has more of an emphasis on safety training for overall CDL holders and to reduce crashes involving CMVs.

However, the second goal is where the program looks to assist veterans in particular. CMVOST aims to assist veterans (and their spouses) with receiving training and, ultimately, transition to the trucking industry and CMV operation.

This program’s accessibility also includes current and former National Guard and Reservists members.

Final Thoughts

The three programs above are all under the FMCSA, however that doesn’t mean this federal agency is fighting the good fight itself. Several other departments, ranging from the Defense Department to the Labor Department, have select programs available for veterans to use.

 While these other resources don’t strictly pertain to guiding veterans to a career in trucking, they nonetheless are options the country’s men and women who have served can explore.

For a closer look at all these programs (including the FMCSA’s), please click here.

From all of us at Commerce Express Inc., we extend a thank you to all former and active military members who are serving or have served in the United States Armed Forces.

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