Three semi trucks in a lineThe ability to move goods, from food to clothing to toys, furniture, and even medication, is a large, important aspect of our national economy.

Without drivers to man the trucks that move products from one place to another, our country suffers; food rots in fields and warehouses, clothing sits unworn and goes out of season, goods go unsold, unable to be moved. Much is lost for want of qualified drivers to man the trucks that drive our country. Due to a shortage of commercial transportation drivers in America, these situations occur frequently, costing millions of dollars over the course of time.

Helping the Transition

At the same time, men and women who’ve spent time in the U.S. military service are exiting their positions daily and looking for work in the civilian sector. Jose Espinoza successfully transitioned to civilian life and started his own company, E & R Auto Wrecking. Plenty of these vets are qualified for work in the surface transportation industry and are eager to get started but faced roadblocks which kept them out of the driver’s seat. Rules, regulations, and requirements for licensing have prevented many service members from finding immediate employment in the world of truck driving. But that’s all changing, and getting a Commercial Driver’s License is becoming easier for America’s veterans. Service men and women are the beneficiaries of legislation that will speed their transition from the service into the field of driving trucks. These changes mean that many can go from military service to the licensing office to the driver’s seat of a big rig in record time, and with less hassle than in the past.

ADVANCE Act

The first move to streamline the process of getting troops into trucks is H.R. 2258, also known as the ADVANCE act (Active Duty Voluntary Acquisition of Necessary Credentials for Employment), will provide exemptions from certain testing rules for military personnel who have specific experience and qualifications. In essence, a person who has spent the last three years as a truck driver in the military would be able to obtain a CDL without additional requirements or training. The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure approved this act on May 24, 2017.

The second act to make it easier and faster – and less expensive – for veterans to get involved in the surface transportation industry, is called VETOPPS, and is a part of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, a government funding bill; VETOPPS basically creates more medical personnel who are authorized to perform CDL physicals. As a result of this legislation, certain VA medical practitioners, such as physician’s assistants and nurse practitioners, can receive online training, qualifying them to perform these exams. This makes it easier and more convenient for current and former military service members to be cleared for driving, getting them on the road sooner than they might otherwise be.

Obviously, every job isn’t for everyone, but truck driving is a great choice for a lot of people. Anyone who has experienced the freedom of long-haul trucking or the reliability of local route driving can tell you this is a job of unique rewards and excellent earning potential. For those who have already gained expertise behind the wheel of a truck during their military service, trucking is often a great way for them to begin earning almost immediately upon separating from the service. For those with families, that ability to start working and paying the bills quickly after leaving the military is crucial; these new changes mean that former military men and women won’t face a long road to training and licensing, and will know that they’ll be able to earn a living doing something they’re already good at

In a very thorough and effective way, these bills have dramatically improved the outlook for veterans to gain employment in the civilian world. Truck driving is a time-honored, exciting, and satisfying career for many, and a necessity for keeping America’s store shelves stocked and her people employed. By allowing our veterans to directly transfer their military trucking experience to the private sector, and by making it easier, faster, and less costly to get a CDL physical, the government is taking a decisive step toward ensuring the future of both the trucking industry and our returning service members and their families.