Ed. note: This is cross-posted from Fast Lane
Today’s generation of heroes are risking their lives to make the U.S. safer and more respected around the world. President Obama has asked that we serve our veterans as well as they’ve served us, and at DOT, we are proud to answer the President’s call.
This morning, DOT held a Veterans Transportation Career Opportunities Forum with the Department of Labor, which focused on careers in the trucking, transit, and motorcoach sectors. Participants discussed the importance of working with truck and bus companies to recruit qualified and safety-conscious service men and women for the critical jobs that need to be filled.
This forum represents a monumental initiative and partnership to link our veterans with careers in the transportation industry.
At DOT we think that removing barriers that stand in the way of our veterans’ success and connecting them with job opportunities that they deserve is the least we can do to thank them for their service. So this meeting gave motor carriers and other stakeholders a chance to tell us how DOT can assist them in making the transition for veterans easier.
And, believe me, we were listening.
We're not interested in finding veterans jobs simply because it is the right thing to do; we want veterans in the transportation workforce because --through their service-- they have the training and on-the-ground experience we need. Half of America’s transportation workers will be eligible to retire in the next decade. And many veterans have the skills and experience needed to fill these jobs and help us rebuild America. So our job is to connect veterans who have the necessary skills with the transportation jobs we need to fill.
And I’m proud to say that we are making progress on this effort.
Together, DOT and Veterans Affairs have launched the Veterans Transportation Career Center, a web site to help veterans find jobs in the private sector. On this site, veterans can learn what training and certification are needed for civilian jobs, determine what career fits best with their background, and search for available jobs in their field.
And our Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is doing what it can to make obtaining a Commercial Driver's License (CDL) easier for veterans with military driving experience.
In May of 2011, FMCSA issued a final rule allowing states to waive the CDL skills test for military drivers with two years of safe driving experience. Today, 39 states are offering or preparing to offer this option, and we are encouraging the other states to do the same.
The latest transportation bill, MAP-21, requires DOT and FMCSA to examine the gaps between military training and the requirements for a CDL. This study will provide us with the information we need to work with the military and the states to fill those gaps.
Opening up job opportunities to talented and skilled veterans is essential to strengthening America’s transportation system, and DOT will continue to work with a wide range of partners to help veterans find success in transportation fields.
It's the right thing to do for America's heroes; it's the right thing to do for American transportation.
Ray LaHood is Secretary of the Department of Transportation