Next month, on Veterans Day, we’ll come together to salute the many Ohioans and Americans who keep our country safe. But expressions of our immense gratitude and deep commitment to our veterans, servicemembers, and military families shouldn’t wait until a holiday. Members of our Armed Forces need us now.
That’s why I visited the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority last week to outline a new bipartisan bill I fought to pass through both houses of Congress that will cut through the red tape that stands between servicemembers and civilian jobs.
Many of our servicemembers acquire skills in the military that can translate to the civilian workforce. But these new veterans often face red tape and roadblocks when they try to apply their military skills and training to the job market.
Under existing law, servicemembers are unable to apply training received at their military installation or base toward receiving a Commercial Drivers License, or CDL, in their home state.
And there are more than 200,000 available jobs in the trucking industry nationwide, thanks in part to growth in manufacturing and the emerging natural gas industry here in Ohio. So it makes sense to connect servicemembers with trucking companies looking to hire.
The Military Commercial Driver’s License Act will make it easier for servicemembers to apply skills training received on a military base toward earning a Commercial Drivers License in their home state by eliminating a provision that says training must be done in the state issuing the license.
Members of the armed forces move often, and many military personnel retain home states of record that differ from where they are actually stationed. This new law will help members of the Armed Forces receive a CDL, so they can get a civilian job following their service – regardless of where they are stationed.
If a servicemember can operate a truck on a military base in Afghanistan, then she should be able to use those skills on the road in Ashtabula or Akron or Alliance.
And this bipartisan legislation passed both the House and the Senate with support from the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, the American Trucking Associations, and the American Legion.
Servicemembers shouldn’t have to wonder whether or not they’ll be able to find a job when they leave the service. Unfortunately many do.
As citizens of a grateful nation, we have a responsibility to assist the thousands of servicemembers – especially when it comes to securing a job after they’ve helped to keep our country secure.
As Americans, we all have an obligation – government and the private sector – to serve those who’ve served us.
Let’s not limit our gratitude to our nation’s heroes to the 11th day of the 11th month. We need to honor the members of our Armed Forces every day. One great way to do so is to ensure they have access to good-paying, middle class jobs that they’ve earned.
Sherrod Brown is a United States Senator from Ohio.