More than 300,000 new jobs are expected in commercial trucking before 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. On July 3, FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) announced almost $1 million in new grants to help train veterans and military families to fill these positions.

The grants were awarded to six colleges across the country as part of the Commercial Motor Vehicle Operator Safety Training (CMVOST) grant program and could provide training for as many as 300 new commercial transportation students. The announcement was publicly applauded by the Disabled Veterans National Foundation as a smart way to keep veterans competitive in the job market.

Programs that aim to support military service men and women and their families may be inspired by federal initiatives such as the White House’s Joining Forces. Joining Forces, announced by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, in part provides employment and educational resources for veterans and their families.

Some note that military personnel are naturally suited for the commercial transportation industry, as many service men and women have received training in operating heavy equipment and have fulfilled roles in managing supply chains within the military. With this understanding, initiatives such as the CMVOST’s grant program are part of the commercial transportation industry’s commitment to helping veterans and their families transition from military to civilian life. For example, in May 2011, FMCSA relaxed commercial learner permit rules to waive the skills test for individuals demonstrating at least two years of safe driving experience in military equivalents of commercial motor vehicles.

Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA) launched its own Veteran Initiative in March of this year. TIA, partnering with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Paralyzed Veterans of America, and Troops to Transportation Logistics (T2TL) seek to connect returning and disabled veterans with TIA members who are looking to hire. The program has been successful. By June, TIA noted that over 350 veterans had been identified as qualified candidates for positions at over 60 TIA companies.