Shortly before I joined the union in the mid 1990s, I served with the U.S. Army for three years in service to our country. I know I am not alone in this distinction as many of our union brothers and sisters in the SMART Transportation Division served in the military, and some continue to bravely serve.
Sharing that bond with the veterans in our union, and long before I was elected president of our union, I noticed that some recognition of our veterans’ service was long overdue. SMART-TD has not accumulated any definitive records about our members who have served in the military — whether they served, what branch they served, when they served. This is an oversight we are looking to correct by asking our members to update their veteran’s status by using a new Member Info Update form on the union website.
By updating your information, as a veteran, you will be eligible for future exclusive programs and information focused on veterans. The first step of this process was taken April 20 of this year with the addition of a Veteran Services page to the TD website. There will be more steps to come, but we first need to record who our veterans are in order to get the information out there and to better target our communications.
This project is close to my heart and a long time coming. I hope you will voluntarily participate by updating your information. Your union wants to recognize the sacrifices of all of our veterans and to better serve all those who served our country.
Thank you for your time. Thank you for your service. And please stay safe!
Jeremy R. Ferguson President – Transportation Division U.S. Army: 1988-1991
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced today that its 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.
“Our nation’s veterans deserve good-paying jobs when they return home from serving overseas and we are proud to help,” said U.S. 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.
The effort is part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s and Dr. Jill Biden’s Joining Forces initiative to promote expanded employment and career development opportunities for veterans and military spouses.
The July 25 announcement also includes two additional expansions of the program.
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.
“Commercial drivers fulfill a vital role ensuring that America’s economy continually moves forward,” said Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator Anne S. Ferro. “Service members who have clocked countless miles safely working behind the wheel of a military vehicle will now have more time and opportunity to find long-term employment in the commercial driving industry. Reducing the burden of finding civilian jobs is one of the best ways we can thank members of our military and their families for their service to our nation.”
From 2010 to 2020, the need for heavy-vehicle drivers is expected to grow by more than 17 percent – faster than the national average for other occupations.
To date, more than 6,000 current and former military personnel – including Reserves, National Guard, and U.S. 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).