The White House’s latest idea to fix the nation’s supply chain issues is to put more veterans in trucks.
Officials from the Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs, Labor and Transportation in coming days will be touting an array of existing programs to help separating service members get careers in the trucking industry. The effort is expected to start Monday, with an announcement from the White House highlighting the programs.
The move comes just a few days after administration officials met with veterans groups to highlight the programs and encourage them to share information with their members.
It also comes as businesses nationwide have struggled with a host of supply chain issues in recent months. Getting products from warehouses to store shelves has been complicated by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and a lack of workers in key posts at ports and other transition stations.
White House officials have promoted increasing the number of truck drivers in America as a long-term solution to the problem, and offered a host of recent training initiatives to direct job seekers to the industry.
In the administration’s “Trucking Action Plan to Strengthen America’s Workforce” released in December, officials said that veterans skills and experience make them “excellent candidates to help address these challenges and build the next generation’s trucking workforce.”
The Department of Defense already offers online credentialing opportunities for troops before they leave the service as well as trucking-specific classes in the SkillBridge program.
The White House is also highlighting that veterans can use a variety of VA benefits — including the GI Bill and Veteran Rapid Retraining Assistance Program — to get jobs in the industry.
The Department of Labor has a 90-day trucking program based on their existing apprenticeship programs designed to fast-track would-be drivers into jobs. Officials said they’ll be targeting veterans for those openings in coming weeks.
And the Department of Transportation’s Commercial Motor Vehicle Operator Safety Grant Program trains service members, veterans, and military spouses in “the safe operation of commercial vehicles.”
All of the programs will be featured in department messaging in coming weeks.
“Our nation’s outdated infrastructure, the COVID-19 pandemic, and a historic volume of goods moving through our economy have created a supply chain backlog, which has stressed our transportation industry and resulted in a critical shortage of truck drivers,” a White House fact sheet released Monday states.
“[These programs] are available to transitioning service members and veterans as they prepare to secure a meaningful career with family-sustaining wages in the trucking industry.”
The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that about 10 percent of all professional truck drivers in America today are veterans.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.