FMCSA grants will help vets transition to commercial drivers

Earlier this month, U.S. DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced nearly $2.3 million in grants will be awarded to 13 technical and community colleges to help train veterans for jobs as commercial bus and truck drivers.

The funding comes through FMCSA’s Commercial Motor Vehicle –Operator Safety (CMV-OST) grant program.

“We support job opportunities for veterans who have served our country, but not only because it is the right thing to do, it also makes good sense,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “One of the most important, fastest growing employment sectors is for qualified commercial vehicle drivers and Veterans bring invaluable experience to the industry and can enter the workforce quickly.”

“We doubled the amount we have previously provided through this grant program because of the important role qualified commercial truck and bus drivers hold in moving our economy forward,” said FMCSA Acting Administrator Scott Darling. “The men and women who complete these commercial driver training programs also serve our country in a vital way by making safety their top priority every mile, every day.”

FMCSA awards CMV-OST grants to a variety of educational institutions that provide truck driving training, including accredited public or private colleges, universities, vocational-technical schools, post-secondary educational institutions, truck driver training schools, associations, and state and local governments, including federally-recognized Native American tribal governments.

The 2015 FMCSA grants will provide training for hundreds of new students. The awards were made to the following organizations:

  • California – West Hills Community College District, Coalinga, $199,460
  • Georgia – Central Georgia Technical College, Macon, $146,771
  • Maryland – Cecil College, North East, $101,825
  • New York – Erie 2 Chautauqua Cattaraugus BOCES, Angola, $105,201
  • North Carolina – North Carolina Department of Transportation, Raleigh, $200,000
  • Ohio – Cuyahoga Community College District, Cleveland, $195,040
  • Oklahoma – Central Technical Center, Drumright, $200,000
  • Pennsylvania – Lancaster County Career & Technology Center, Willow Street, $194,811
  • Pennsylvania – Northampton County Area Community College, Bethlehem, $134,400
  • Pennsylvania – The Sage Corporation, Camp Hill, $198,504
  • South Carolina – Orangeburg-Callhoun Technical College, Orangeburg, $197,399
  • Texas – Alamo Colleges/ St. Phillip’s College, San Antonio, $196,680
  • Virginia – Tidewater Community College, Norfolk, $199,879

The Commercial Motor Vehicle – Operator Safety Training Grant Program was established by Congress in 2005 through the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act – A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), to expand the number of commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders possessing enhanced operator safety training to help reduce the severity and number of crashes on U.S. roads involving large trucks and buses.

In July 2014, FMCSA announced that the Military Skills Test Waiver Program had been expanded to all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Under this program, state licensing agencies have authority to waive the skills test portion of the CDL application for active duty or recently separated veterans who possess at least two years of safe driving experience operating a military truck or bus. Waiving the skills test expedites the civilian commercial drivers licensing application process and reduces expenses for qualified individuals and operating costs to state licensing agencies.

FMCSA last year also announced that, beginning with Virginia residents, returning military service personnel who possess a state-issued Skill Performance Evaluation (SPE) certificate due to a limb impairment will automatically be recognized as equivalent to an FMCSA-issued SPE certificate and allowed to obtain an interstate commercial driver’s license (CDL). FMCSA encourages other state licensing agencies to establish comparable equivalency SPE programs.

One example of the emphasis on hiring veterans is FASTPORT, which matches job candidates with trucking jobs.

Hiring America, a nationally syndicated television program dedicated to helping employ transitioning veterans and their families, announced a partnership with FASTPORT.

“We are thrilled to partner with FASTPORT to leverage their industry expertise and leadership in educating Veterans about the trucking industry’s wide variety of career opportunities,” said Bill Deutch, CEO of Hiring America, a television program which is now seen on 195 TV stations across the nation and on the American Forces Network. “We will literally be connecting thousands of Veterans to quality jobs in the trucking industry.”

FASTPORT – in partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes Program –developed the Trucking Track Mentoring Program as the on-ramp for Veterans and transitioning military into great careers with leading trucking industry employers.

Each Hiring America show will dedicate a weekly segment for the entire year to career opportunities for Veterans in the trucking industry. “By utilizing a single online platform – the Trucking Track – the trucking industry can reach more Veterans and transitioning service men and women with a focused approach,” observed Bill McLennan, CEO of FASTPORT. “We are delighted to partner with Hiring America to provide these talented Veterans access to jobs in the trucking industry through their television syndication and Armed Forces Network.”

Top executives from major trucking firms looking to fill job needs will be interviewed in upcoming Hiring America Shows. These include such industry stalwarts as Clean Harbors, Ryder, TMC Transportation, Werner, Kenan Advantage Group and J.B. Hunt.