Governor Bob McDonnell announced today the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is joining forces with the military and transportation-related businesses to put former servicemen and women and National Guard and Reserves members to work in the transportation industry. Through the new Troops to Trucks program, DMV is making it easier for personnel trained by the military to operate heavy vehicles to obtain civilian commercial driver's licenses (CDL). As a first step, DMV this week certified two military installations as third party testers to train more personnel to operate commercial motor vehicles. Working in partnership with trucking and bus companies, DMV is providing potential transportation-related employment opportunities for military members after service.
Speaking about the program, Governor McDonnell said, "The Commonwealth is an ideal place to launch Troops to Trucks. Virginia has approximately 823,000 veterans, 63,000 active-duty military and 20 major military installations. The goal of the Troops to Trucks program, a first in the nation, is to help provide employment opportunities to our military as truck or bus drivers, or in other transportation-related jobs after their service; and to members of the National Guard and Reservist even during their service."
Governor McDonnell added, "The Troops to Trucks program is a comprehensive collaborative effort by government and the private sector to assist those individuals who have served and sacrificed for our great nation. We have a duty to ensure they have training and employment opportunities in the future."
Effective July 1, 2012, DMV will utilize a new federal regulation to waive the road skills test requirement for military CDL holders two years immediately preceding their application with safe driving experience. These applicants will still need to take the DMV written exam. The road test waiver will streamline the CDL process for military personnel and eliminate the often burdensome requirement that an applicant provide a commercial motor vehicle for the skills test.
For military members without experience operating heavy vehicles but interested in obtaining a Virginia CDL, DMV is partnering with military installations to provide the necessary training. This week, DMV certified Marine Base Corps Quantico and Fort Lee as third party testers for CDL training. The installations will provide classroom instruction. When students are ready to be tested, the DMV 2 Go mobile office will visit the base to conduct knowledge tests and issue Virginia CDL learner's permits. Applicants then receive the skills instruction from the military during the 30 days students are required to hold a CDL learner's permit prior to taking the road test. Once the student has successfully completed the skills training and testing, DMV issues the Virginia CDL.
In addition, Virginia DMV is the only DMV in the nation with all Driver's License Quality Assurance Specialists, or CDL specialists, trained and certified to administer a federal skills performance evaluation (SPE) to offer drivers with a missing or impaired limb, who are otherwise qualified, an opportunity to obtain an SPE certificate which enables them to operate a commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce.
The final component of Troops to Trucks is providing career opportunities to those men and women close to transitioning out of the service. DMV Commissioner Richard D. Holcomb explained, "Military personnel with new CDLs earned through Troops to Trucks will complete questionnaires indicating their interests for transportation related employment. Through partnerships with the Virginia Trucking Association, Virginia Motorcoach Association, and Virginia Association for Pupil Transportation, applicants will be referred to at least three potential employers."