FMCSA awards $1 million to help veterans train for commercial driving careers

By Land Line staff | 10/22/2014

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is awarding $1 million in grants to nine technical and community colleges across the country to help train and place returning military veterans in jobs as commercial bus and truck drivers.

The funding is provided through FMCSA’s Commercial Motor Vehicle-Operator Safety Training (CMV-OST) grant program, the agency announced via press release on Tuesday.

“Those that we entrust to protect and serve our nation deserve opportunities that utilize the skills and training they received on the job on military bases overseas and at home,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in the release. “We can think of none more appropriate to safeguard our highways as commercial vehicle drivers than the thousands of veterans who have already proven they can safely handle large vehicles under extremely stressful circumstances.”

The grants are designed to help recruit, train and place veterans and their spouses in high-demand jobs “in an industry that is vitally important in keeping our national economy moving forward,” FMCSA Acting Administrator Scott Darling said in the release.

“Graduates of these training programs are continuing to serve our nation by ensuring that the goods and products we depend on are delivered professionally, efficiently and, most importantly, safely,” Darling said.

FMCSA awards CMV-OST grants to organizations 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 2014 FMCSA grants are expected to provide training for nearly 400 new students. The awards were made to the following organizations:

  • Florida – South Florida State College, Avon Park, Fla., $58,003;
  • Illinois – Joliet Junior College, Joliet, Ill., $165,800;
  • Minnesota – Century College in White Bear Lake, Minn., $91,080;
  • Missouri – Crowder College, Neosho, Mo., $72,160;
  • Nebraska – Metropolitan Community College, Omaha, Ne., $47,614;
  • Pennsylvania – Northampton County Area Community College, Bethlehem, Pa., $134,400;
  • Pennsylvania – The Sage Corp., Camp Hill, Pa., $249,968;
  • Texas – Lone Star College-North Harris, Houston, Texas, $73,704; and
  • Virginia – Tidewater Community College, Norfolk, Va., $107,271.

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 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 include 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.

FMCSA also announced this summer that, commencing with Virginia residents, returning military service personnel who possess a state-issued Skill Performance Evaluation certificate due to a limb impairment will automatically be recognized as having an equivalent to an FMCSA-issued SPE certificate and will be allowed to obtain an interstate CDL. FMCSA encourages other state licensing agencies to establish comparable equivalency SPE programs.

For a listing of last year’s CMV-OST grant recipients, click here. For more information about the U.S. Department of Transportation's dedication to our nation's veterans, please visit this page.

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