Transitioning from A Military Career to Trucking

by Holly Plude - Published: 5/17/2017
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It is often the case that military veterans have difficulty re-acclimating to civilian life. Part of this may be due to the fact that finding employment can be difficult.

However, the trucking industry has historically served as a fruitful place for men and women returning home from the service, offering trucker job opportunities from California all the way to Florida. The FMCSA has made a concerted effort to make the transition from military to trucking an easier one.

Transportation career opportunities exist for both men and women who have served in any branch of the U.S. Military, Reserves, National Guard or the U.S. Coast Guard.

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This career crossover, so to speak, serves a dual purpose. First, it addresses the current truck driver shortage. Second, it provides employment for those returning from military service. According to a 2014 press release from the FMCSA, the transportation industry is looking to add an additional 4.6 million workers between 2014 and 2021. Not all of the transportation positions will be found in the trucking industry, but many will.

If a veteran has previous experience operating large vehicles, they have the opportunity to pursue a career in the truck and bus industry. If the veteran drove heavy duty vehicles in the military, that individual can earn a commercial driver’s license without taking the otherwise required road test.

The Military Skills Test (A.K.A. Road Test) Program

As of 2014, the road test waiver is now available in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. “Our nation’s veterans deserve good-paying jobs when they return home from serving overseas and we are proud to help,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Thousands of active duty service members and veterans have already transferred their skills to a truck driving job and several other commercial driving occupations through the Military Skills Test Waiver Program and we look forward to helping even more now that we’ve expanded to all 50 states.”

Since 2014, a boom in the number of veterans on the road has occurred. States like Texas, who see a large presence of trucks are among those that often feel the strong presence of Veterans on the road.

How The Waiver Works

The veteran has to have at least two years of safe driving experience operating heavy duty military truck or buses while serving. The eligibility period has been extended to one year. That extension is nationwide.

If a veteran has a Skill Performance Evaluation (SPE) certificate due to a limb impairment, that document will be automatically treated as the equivalent to the FMCSA issued SPE. “Commercial drivers fulfill a vital role ensuring that America’s economy continually moves forward,” said Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator Anne S. Ferro. “Service members who have clocked countless miles safely working behind the wheel of a military vehicle will now have more time and opportunity to find long-term employment in the commercial driving industry. Reducing the burden of finding civilian jobs is one of the best ways we can thank members of our military and their families for their service to our nation.

The Application For A Military Skills Test Waiver

The application must be submitted within 12 months of discharge from U.S. Military Service. The waiver only applies to the road test portion of the CDL. The CDL candidates must still take the written tests at their local Department of Motor Vehicles.

Military personnel testing will need to answer a variety of questions regarding your driver’s license and driving record. It is in your best interest to answer all questions honestly. The following questions can be expected to appear on an exam.

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994

Under the USERRA, the DOL provides assistance to veterans to find employment. It also aids veterans by protecting their civilian job rights. The USERRA has established that the cumulative length of time that a military serviceman/woman may be on leave from their position and still retain their employment rights is five years. Exceptions to this rule include initial enlistments that last more than five years, periodic National Guard and Reserve training, involuntary active duty extensions and recalls (especially during a national emergency). The most important part of this Act is that the timing, frequency, duration or nature of the deployment cannot be taken into account. All that matters is that the basic eligibility criteria are met.

There is additional protection for disabled veterans that require an employer to make reasonable efforts to accommodate that disability. A veteran recovering from a military endured injury may receive up to an additional two years from discharge to return to work or apply for re-employment.

The Act requires that returning service members be returned to a position that they would have attained had they not been absent from work for military service, returned to the same seniority, status, pay, and benefits.

Reasonable efforts must be made to provide returning veterans training to refresh or upgrade their skills for employment.

If for some reason the returning veteran cannot qualify for the “escalator” position, then alternative employment positions must be offered.

Health care coverage provides that military servicemen/women deployed longer than 30 days may elect to continue the employer sponsored health care for a period of up to 24 months. The employer can require the military person to pay up to 102 percent of the full premium. If the servicemen/women serve less than 31 days, health care coverage is provided as if the military person had been consistently employed all that time.
Transportation Companies Committed To Hiring Veterans

The following are a handful of transportation companies who frequently hire veterans to as drivers. While this is not a comprehensive list, these companies are among those that have shown a long-time commitment to bringing veterans into the cab.

Bottom Line

If you are a discharged U.S. Military Veteran and are wondering what you are going to do for work, consider the transportation industry. The great thing about a trucking job is that with proper training anyone can qualify. It is a skilled trade mind you, but it is a skill that one can learn through dedication. Better yet, the industry is open to men and women alike. In fact, there is a great deal of room for growth for women in the industry. If you find a company that is dedicated to hiring returning veterans and hiring more women you have an increase in favor of getting hired at said company. Whether one is in Wisconsin, the East Coast or even the Pacific Northwest, there are countless opportunities for drivers.

There are a lot of ideas about careers within the commercial transportation industry. Some of them are true, but by no means are all of them - not even most of them. Truck driving is a profession, and a profession that not just anyone can do. You need to be properly trained, the same as if you were going to school to be a marketing director or a pharmacist, or another similarly qualified position.

Truck drivers are the backbone of America. And perhaps that is one reason why so many companies are dedicated to hiring returning veterans.

As a United States Veteran, there are so many opportunities that can open a whole new world to you!

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