Over the years, military personnel wishing to obtain commercial drivers licenses had to apply through their home states of record. However, this is likely to change soon when President Obama signs the Military CDL Act of 2012 into law.
The bill, which is supported by OOIDA and other parties, will enable military personnel to obtain CDLs in the states where they are stationed. The bill was passed by the House on Friday, Sept. 28 and the Senate has already passed it.
The Truckload Carrier Association indicates that there are approximately 200,000 long haul CDL jobs available across the country. With the economy making modest but steady gains, industries are expected to hire more commercial drivers to transport manufactured goods. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that over 300,000 commercial driver jobs are expected to be created between 2010-2020. Veterans with CDLs are likely to find it easier to secure employment in the long haul transport sector.
However, according to the current laws, states cannot issue CDLs to individuals who do not reside there. In most cases, military personnel get their vehicle training at the locations where they are stationed rather than their states of residences. As a result, they cannot obtain a CDL before they leave service. The Department of Defense and the Department of Transportation have both pointed out this law as a barrier to CDL jobs for veterans.
However, with the passing of the Military CDL Act of 2012, military personnel in active duty, active Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary, National Guard and military reserves will be able to get CDLs in the areas where they are stationed, whether or not they are permanent and residents of the state.
With the passing of the bill, the Department of Defense will be able to reach agreement with states where it offers vehicle training to have active members of the military issued with CDLs. After leaving the military, veterans will be able to use their licenses for CDL jobs in other locations that have interstate agreements with the DoD.
In the House, the bill was backed by U.S. Rep. Larry Bucschon, R-IN and others while in the Senate, Sen. Patty Murray, Sen. Olympia Snowe, D-WA, R-Me and the other eight cosponsors backed the bill. After the passing of the bill, Sen. Snowe thanked the House and Senate for passing the bill, which she referred to as a “common sense, pro-jobs legislation.”
The New York senator stated that Congress should make it a priority to put the country’s veterans to work when they return from Afghanistan and Iraq. She continued that veterans can use the skills they learned in the military to contribute to the development of the private sector.
A large number of OOIDA memberships are of military families and veteran members, most of whom value trucking as a career choice. OOIDA Executive Vice President, Todd Spencer, applauded the House and Senate for passing the bill, saying that helping military personnel to transition into new roles by removing obstacles to CDL jobs is a step in the right direction.