Veterans returning to civilian life in Florida now have a new program designed to help them secure employment.
The “Troops to Truckers” program will offer expedited driver licensing and trucking career fairs to returning veterans. Created by Veterans Florida – a nonprofit created by the state to help veterans make the transition to civilian life – the program includes a series of events that give Reserve, National Guard and Active Duty Service Members the opportunity to take the written portion of the Commercial Driver License (CDL) test and find employment as a commercial truck driver all in the same day.
“The Troops to Truckers program offers a great opportunity for veterans to take the skills they used in the military and apply them to great career in the civilian trucking industry,” Bobby Carbonell, executive director of Veterans Florida, said. “The trucking industry is currently in need of 50,000 new truck drivers nationwide, and veterans are perfectly suited to fill those vacancies.”
Carbonell said the program leverages the Federal Motor Carrier Administration’s Military Skills Test Waiver, which allows veterans who drove heavy duty vehicles in the U.S. military to earn a CDL – and find work that fits their experience – without having to take the road test portion of the state’s licensing exam. The state of Florida grants the waiver to military personnel who have separated from service no more than 90 days before applying for the waiver, and have operated a motor vehicle representative of the CDL classification they are applying to operate for at least two years immediately preceding their application.
“The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles is committed to supporting our nation’s veterans. In fact, almost 20 percent of the DHSMV workforce is made up of veterans,” said Terry L. Rhodes, executive director of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. “We are excited to support the Troops to Truckers initiative to keep qualified, safe drivers on the road, moving Florida’s economy.”
To be eligible to test for the CDL, applicants must complete several forms prior to participating in the hiring events, one of which must be signed by their commanding officer or transportation officer.
Those who may not meet the requirements for the CDL waiver are encouraged to attend one of the trucking career fairs. The first hiring event was held July 16 at the Camp Blanding Joint Training Center in Starke. Future hiring events are scheduled for Tallahassee, Orlando and St. Petersburg.
For more information about Troops for Truckers or to RSVP for one of the Trucking Career Fairs, visit www.veteransflorida.org/events/troops-to-truckers.