Each year between 260,000 and 360,000 service members retire from or leave the military. And as we end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we expect an additional million service members to leave the military over the next several years. Many of our returning veterans face unique challenges transitioning to the civilian labor market.
But President Obama, DOT, and the entire Administration are committed to doing everything we can to assist these veterans in re-entering civilian life and finding employment.
Today the Obama Administration released a new report discussing the measures the Administration and States have taken and still need to take to ensure that the skills and abilities of these individuals can be applied to meet employer needs while providing good, middle-class jobs for our military families.
As First Lady Michele Obama said today, the Administration has worked hard to ensure that veterans have the opportunity to apply their skills in civilian employment.
One significant obstacle is that much of the training they receive for their military specialties doesn't count toward civilian certifications and licenses. Despite having valuable skills and experience that make them desirable job candidates for civilian employers, when it comes to state certification and licensing, veterans often find it difficult to obtain recognition.
For example, our Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has worked with states to waive the driving test for veterans with a record of safely operating vehicles similar to the trucks and buses for which a commercial driving license is required. To date, 34 states have adopted legislation waiving the driver’s skills test for qualified service members who provide documentation of two years of “safe driving” experience operating military vehicles. An additional nine states plus the District of Columbia are strongly considering similar legislation.
Another challenge for our veterans is the fact that military life requires them to change home addresses frequently. The state a veteran chooses for a return to civilian life is not necessarily the state that was his or her legal residence.
So we have also enacted legislation creating a special exception for military personnel from restrictions that prevented state licensing agencies from issuing CDLs to any individual who legally resided in another state. While lifting the residency requirement may involve different procedures from state to state, it is expected to make CDLs more accessible, especially for active duty service members.
In 2012, there were more than 22,000 active duty, National Guard, and reserve members in truck driving military occupations, and last year nearly 10,000 of them separated from the military. By 2020, the Department of Labor estimates that the demand for bus and truck drivers will increase 16.5 percent. At $15.00, the median hourly wage for a truck driver is right about at the median wage for high school graduates with some college education; driving is a good job.
Service members who drive trucks and other forms of heavy equipment while serving on active duty have conquered some of the most challenging conditions. With our efforts, we want to make sure that coming home isn't one of them.