Veterans, most of us could never imagine the experiences you’ve been  through. You’ve bravely served to protect us, which allows America its  status quo. For that, we cannot thank you enough. Now that you’ve moved  from one of the most crucial roles in our nation, it’s time to think  about the future. Have you considered a career in trucking? Forbes listed trucking as one of the top 10 best jobs for veterans, and for good reason! Learn more about the advantages for veterans in CDL training.

Looking to Veterans to Reduce the Trucker Shortage

“I  think there’s no higher calling for an American than to serve in our  armed forces, and driving a truck, delivering America’s most essential  goods safely, is also a high calling.”Bill Graves, ATA president and CEO

It’s  no secret that veterans often find it difficult to obtain employment  post-active duty, and especially in a secure position with steady  income. And at this moment, the U.S. trucking industry is facing a  shortage of drivers that’s expected to grow into the high six figures.  It only makes sense that veterans and trucking work together to solve  these problems—each has a need perfectly met by the other. You, as a  veteran, have wide-open options in the trucking industry. (many trade school programs require your technical know how and focus too! STEM careers are the future)

Commonly,  service members have already been trained to drive heavy vehicles. If  not, you can easily be taught due to your active duty experience. For  veterans, receiving training as a truck driver is reasonably fast and  gets you to quickly transition to a new career. Companies, such as J.B.  Hunt and its “Hunts Heros”  program, are working hard to thank you for your service by getting you  employed. J.B. Hunt’s program specifically lasts just eight weeks and  covers training costs.

And keep in mind, trucking  careers aren’t isolated to driving only. Administrative and mechanical  are just two of the other roles possible to train for and take part in.  Whether you want to work at a desk, underneath a truck, or inside the  cabin, the industry has a spot for you, making veterans and trucking a  win-win situation.

Veterans Make Excellent Truck Drivers

“There’s  a lot of similarities between what [servicemen and women] do in the  military and what the trucking industry does, and that’s regardless of  what their military occupation or specialty is.”Bill McLennan, FASTPORT CEO

There  are many reasons the trucking industry, as a whole, is looking for  veterans. Already mentioned is the fact that many veterans are highly  skilled at driving and operating heavy trucks and machinery. Familiarity  helps ease the transition from active military to driving a truck. In  addition, you have created and honed a knowledge and skill base that  qualifies you to be a trucker:

  •  Team player:  Military members are part of an important team. It’s how they function.  Being a truck driver is similar to being in the military in that you  work together for the common good. Military missions and hauling cargo  both are team endeavors.
  •  Used to a more mobile lifestyle:  You are used to being away from home for months at a time. In trucking,  you’re able to be with your family regularly—you are only on the road  for days at a time, if that. You also have more liberal access to the  Internet and a phone, so you can to skype or call whenever you want, as  opposed to set times.
  •  Strong work ethic:  Military veterans know how important their job is, and they treat it  with the respect it deserves. You take responsibility for your actions,  and hold yourself accountable. This is exactly the type of ethics a  truck driver needs to have.
  •  Mental stamina:  Veterans are used to being stressed and working long hours. Your  ability to stay focused at all times, even when exhausted, is a perfect  fit for trucking. Being in the military teaches extreme discipline,  which serves drivers well during long treks.
  •  Excellent leadership skills:  Veterans have learned to take charge and ownership of their actions, a  quality so needed in the trucking industry. It gives other truckers  someone to look up to and follow. In addition, moving from truck driver  to an instructor would be a rather easy career jump with your skill set.
  •  Alert and aware:  Being alert and aware of your surroundings is something military  personnel are trained to be. Knowing what is going on with and around  your truck will come naturally to you.

Five Things Veterans Need to Look for in a Carrier

As  a veteran, you’re used to working under certain management conditions.  You have expectations to be met, and rightfully so. When it comes to  trucking companies, not all are created fairly, nor may they share the  same set of values as you. So, as a veteran, there are a few things you  should pay attention to when looking for a carrier company to work with.  When in doubt, talk to other drivers who have been with the carrier  company for awhile.

  1. Is the company’s reputation better than decent?  Does it treat its drivers well, avoid dishonest operating procedures,  and respect its clients? As a veteran, you deserve a company whose  reputation is at par with its integrity.
  2. Fair treatment with fair pay.  Not all trucking companies provide both. Some pay well but treat their  drivers poorly. And vice versa. Find one that fairly provides both pay  and treatment.
  3. How is the equipment?  The company may guarantee great pay-per-mile, more home time, and  steady work. But if the equipment in antiquated and breaks down  regularly, you will be left with headaches and stress about meeting pick  up times and drop off deadlines. Find a carrier who has a great track  record across the board.
  4. Are there opportunities for career advancement?  Not only do you need to find out if carriers pay well and respect their  drivers, but you also have a right to know if there is a career ladder  available, what type of future opportunities are possible, and whether  the driving options are a good fit for you.
  5. Does the carrier company participate in the various government programs  that are available to U.S. veterans? The best companies for you to work  with are those who already have training programs that cater to  veterans’ needs. The GI Bill and the VA Apprenticeship Program are just two that were put into place to make it easier for veterans to re-enter civilian life.

About the GI and Military Veteran Government Programs

To  be eligible for any type of government program, there are a few  criteria that must be met, and each program has its own set of  specifications. These programs were created for U.S. veterans in hopes  of making it easier for you to re-enter the workforce through a variety  of means. There are many trucking companies that participate in these  programs. Any program must be approved by the state of residence’s  agencies. Always check with your state to make sure the company you’re  considering is one of those approved.

  •  Military Skills Waiver Program:  To facilitate a seamless transition from military to positions in  transportation, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration created  the Military Skills Test Waiver Program. Military men and women who  drove heavy duty vehicles are not required to take the road test portion  of their state’s CDL licensing exam. To be eligible for the Military  Skills Test Waiver Program, you must be active duty or have received an  honorable discharge. You must have at least two years’ experience  operating any type of commercial vehicle as part of your military  position. You must apply for the waiver program within one year of  separation from active duty.
  •  Military CDL Act of 2012:  Generally, the CDL license is given by the state of residence. However,  because many military personnel are stationed in other places, the  Military CDL Act of 2012 gives special permissions allowing people in  the Armed Forces to operate commercial motorized vehicles (CMV) in other  states where they are either permanently or temporarily residing.
  •  Post-9/11 GI Bill:  The post 9/11 GI Bill is for those who served in active duty after  September 10, 2001, whether they were actively or honorably discharged,  or discharged with a disability. This bill provides for higher education  or training programs, and will pay for the education on behalf of the  recipient. It also allows for a housing allowance, if necessary. The  Post-9/11 GI Bill can be used toward college, university, job training,  or trade school.
  •  Montgomery GI Bill: The Montgomery GI Bill offers two programs for those enlisted in the U.S. Armed Forces.
    •  Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty,  or Chapter 30, allows for benefits to active duty members who have  enrolled and paid the monthly fee of $100 for 12 months. They are then  entitled to receive a monthly education benefit after a required minimum  of service. This bill may be used for furthering education on a  college, university, trade school, or job-training level. The benefits  are usually available for 10 years post-release with an honorable  discharge.
    •  Montgomery GI Selected Reserve  is for those who served in the Army Reserve, Navy Reserve, Air Force  Reserve, Marine Corps Reserve, Coast Guard Reserve, Army National Guard,  and Air National Guard. Eligibility is determined by the Selected  Reserves in whichever form the recipient served, and the VA makes the  payments. Thirty six months of education may be available to those who  qualify by meeting the requirements.
  •  Veterans Administration Apprenticeship Program and On-the-Job Training (OJT):  This program was created to help veterans and their dependents learn  new skills or trades. This must be done through an approved company or  union. The recipients of this program will still be eligible to receive  benefits. There are a few different programs and rules with the  Veteran’s Administration Apprenticeship Program and OJT Training. To  qualify for any of the programs, you must be supervised for 50% of the  time, the training must lead to an entry-level position, you must be a  paid employee working full time, all training must be documented, you  must never have had any training in the field you’re entering, you must  be a recent hire with a minimum of six months of training, and the  employee may be private, local, or state government.
    •  OJT  Training when using the Post 9/11 Bill: For the first six months of  training, you will receive 100% of your housing stipend, 80% for the  following six months, 60% for the third six month set, 40% for the  fourth sixth set of six months, and 20% for the remainder of your  training.
    •  OJT Training using the  Active Duty GI Bill: For the first six months of training, you will  receive $1,372.95 each month, $1,021.35 per month for the following six  months, and then $649.95 per month for the remainder of your training.
    •  OJT  Training using the Reserve GI Bill: For the first six months of  training, you will receive $276.75 per month, $202.95 for an additional  six months, and $129.15 per month for the remainder of your training.

To receive any of the above benefits, there are forms you must fill out. There is the VA Form 22-1990, which is applicable if you’ve never used the veteran benefits before, and the VA Form 22-5490, which is for eligible dependents. If you’ve used the veteran benefits before, the form you’d need to fill out is the VA Form 22-1995, and for your eligible dependents, the VA Form 22-5495. It’s quickest to fill these out and submit them online. All the forms can be found here.

Scholarships

There  is quite a wide array of resources for veterans looking to trucking as a  career. Beyond scholarships and other financial aid opportunities,  there are programs available to help ease the transition and find a  permanent position.

  • Hiring America  is a TV series with the goal of connecting veterans with compatible  jobs, as well as helping them assimilate into a civilian career.
  • Hiring our Heroes and the Hiring Our Heroes Fellowship Program  are programs created by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation to help  transition our country’s heroes, the men, and women who serve in the  military, by helping them and their families find employment.
  • FASTPORT,  selected by the Hiring Our Heroes program for its Veteran Employment  Advisory Council (VEAC), was created to help “educate, hire, and inspire  transitioning military service members on the career opportunities in  the trucking industry.” True to its word, the group has gotten well over  150,000 commitments from trucking carrier companies.
  • Part of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act assists veterans in easing into their transition to becoming a truck driver.
  • Trucking Track is a mentoring program that will help veterans and their families find careers in the trucking industry.
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