TEN MEMBERS of the Ohio Army National Guard showed off their truck driving skills earlier this year during the Ohio Trucking Association’s Truck Driving Championship. The event helped demonstrate that today’s military trucks are very similar to their civilian counterparts.
The members of the Ohio Army National Guard’s 1483rd Transportation Company based in Walbridge, Ohio competed in the OTA Truck Driving Championship held at the Cleveland (Ohio) IX Center June 6-7. The state level truck driving championships are the feeder competitions for the American Trucking Association’s National Truck Driving Championships (NTDC), held August 12-16 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The Army National Guard competed in the first ever military exhibition class, sponsored by the FedEx Corporation, and demonstrated their skills in pre-trip inspections, a written test, and a driving skills challenge course. The opening ceremony of the truck driving championship included a patriotic introduction of the military exhibition class, the National Anthem, and two tractor-trailers adorned with the American Flag moving through the obstacle course. The 1483rd Transportation Company also set up a static display of a few pieces of military equipment for the public to see and interact with, providing them an opportunity to see just how similar some of our equipment is to civilian equipment.
The military exhibition class served several purposes. The first was to expose more civilian companies and truck drivers to the military equipment. We believe this will help dispel the belief that our military equipment is too different from civilian equipment to qualify military drivers for truck driving jobs. The second was to showcase the skills that our military drivers have. This provided the drivers an opportunity to demonstrate the capabilities of the equipment and kind of “show-off” their abilities from the years of straight-line backing, bull-pen parking, and lining up the absolutely perfectly dress-right-dressed motor-pool. The civilian companies and drivers were able to observe that our training and preparation of military drivers is not that different from their own driver programs.
The third purpose was to help initiate more interaction between civilian companies that need good, qualified drivers and military drivers who might not have looked at a career in civilian trucking without ever being exposed to it at this level. The current National Guard truck drivers, current US Army Reserve truck drivers, and recently separated active duty truck drivers are a prime pool of candidates to help fill the looming driver shortage in the civilian industry.
This interaction provided the opportunity for civilian trucking company managers and recruiters to talk with military leadership and the soldiers directly about the time requirement of soldiers with the National Guard, how much time away from the job they can expect, deployments, Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA), and other questions that might have been a roadblock to hiring more National Guard and Reserve Soldiers currently serving.
The outcome of the event: Of the 18 soldiers present (10 competing and eight supporting), four set up follow-on interviews with companies once their 15-day annual training period was completed, and one was interviewed and offered a job on the spot. Imagine the potential impact if every state trucking association held a military exhibition class and every National Guard and Reserve unit sent drivers that were actively seeking employment in the civilian trucking industry.
In addition to talking about the drivers, the companies began asking about diesel technicians and specialty equipment technicians who also are currently serving in the National Guard and Reserves. The next logical step is creating a similar partnership with the American Trucking Association’s Technology and Maintenance Council’s SuperTech competition to showcase the military maintainers that keep us moving.
The truck drivers in the 1483rd Transportation Company are already practicing their skills to compete at the unit level amongst each other next spring in order to identify the soldiers who will advance to the second annual military exhibition class next summer. Thank you to the Ohio Trucking Association for helping put this event on and bring an
idea to life. ♦
Cpt Robert Ahlers is the former company commander of the 1483rd Transportation Company and may be contacted at [email protected]. He can be contacted by email at [email protected] or [email protected]
FMCSA expands waiver program to help veterans get truck driving jobs
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA’s) waiver program that helps experienced veterans and active duty personnel transition into civilian jobs as commercial truck and bus drivers has been expanded to all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
The latest program update includes two additional components. First, the eligibility period for qualified individuals to obtain an FMCSA Military Skills Test Waiver has been extended from 90 days to one year, nationwide.
Second, commencing 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.
“Our nation’s veterans deserve good-paying jobs when they return home from serving overseas and we are proud to help,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Thousands of active duty service members and veterans have already transferred their skills to jobs driving trucks and buses through the Military Skills Test Waiver Program and we look forward to helping even more now that we’ve expanded to all 50 states.”
On June 27, 2014, Alaska became the 50th state to participate in the FMCSA Military Skills Test Waiver Program. Begun in 2011, the Program grants state licensing agencies, including the District of Columbia, the authority to waive the skills test portion of the commercial driver’s license 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.
From 2010 to 2020, the need for heavy-vehicle drivers is expected to grow by more than 17%—faster than the national average for other occupations.
To date, more than 6,000 current and former military personnel—including Reserves, National Guard, and US Coast Guard service members—have taken advantage of FMCSA’s Military Skills Test Waiver Program, which has been conducted in close cooperation with the Department of Transportation, Department of Defense, and the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA).
Additional information, including a standardized application form accepted in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, is available at: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/registration/commercial-drivers-license/military.