Ed. note: This is cross-posted from the Department of Transportation's Fast Lane Blog.
At the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), we have been working hard to support our active duty troops and experienced veterans as they make the often difficult transition from military life to civilian careers.
We do this not only because we owe our troops a debt of gratitude for their service and sacrifice to our nation, but also because we truly need their skills and training to fill the transportation-related jobs that help keep our economy moving.
That's why I'm proud to share a recent milestone that Vice President Biden announced this week at the annual Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) conference: FMCSA’s Military Skills Test Waiver Program has now been expanded to all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
This means that veterans who drove heavy duty vehicles in the military can earn a Commercial Driver’s License --and find work that fits their experience-- without having to take the skills portion of their state's licensing exam.
In addition, we have extended to one year --up from 90 days-- the window for veterans to take advantage of this waiver program. Veterans who have clocked countless miles safely working behind the wheel of a military vehicle will now have more time and opportunity to find jobs in America's commercial driving industry.
For me and for Selden Fritschner, who has led this effort for FMCSA, this is personal.
We have worked for more than seven years to put in place this special waiver so our active duty troops can be confident that civilian jobs are waiting for them when they leave the military. Why? Because it's the right thing to do.
So far, our efforts are paying off. More than 6,000 current and former military personnel –including Reserves, National Guard, and U.S. Coast Guard– have already taken advantage of the program.
Of course, this cannot be the end of our work to expedite the transition to civilian driving careers. More efforts are needed. This area of our economy is primed for further expansion, with the need for truck and bus drivers is expected to grow by more than 17 percent from 2010 to 2020 –faster than the national average for other occupations.
Reducing the burden of finding good-paying civilian jobs is one of the best ways I can think of to thank members of our military and their families for their service to our nation. I am proud that FMCSA is helping harness the talents of our returning troops, and I know these new civilian drivers will be proud to put their skills and experience to use delivering the goods that keep America’s economy continues moving forward.