One of the most powerful and visible members of the U.S. Senate wants to make it easier for members of the military leaving service to get civilian jobs, including those as truck drivers.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) said veterans ought to be able to move into civilian jobs similar to those they performed while in uniform without additional training and without the expense of extensive paperwork.
Her remarks came during a meeting of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel held Tuesday, Feb. 14.
Addressing Sgt. Major of the Army Daniel Dailey, Warren said, “The Army trains thousands of soldiers every year to drive truck in the most difficult conditions: In combat. With hazardous cargo. At night. In sandstorms. You name it. If it’s tough, you train people to do it.”
Warren then asked: “So would you say those folks are pretty good truck drivers?”
Dailey replied, “I would say in my opinion they’re the best in the world, mam.”
To which Warren said: “Best truck drivers in the world. That sounds like an expert opinion on that. So with those kinds of skills, when they transition from the Army, it is reasonable to assume they could sign on with any long-haul trucking company and hit the interstate the next day, right?”
Dailey: “That is correct, mam.”
Warren: “And, they can?”
Dailey: “Not fully, mam, no.”
Warren: “No they can’t. How come?”
Dailey: “It’s a complicated matter. First and foremost, one, we have to credential them, those young men and women. Two, we have to work the requirements of each and every one of the 54 states and territories that license those trucks.”
Warren: “So we have a state and national licensing problem here, and we can’t take the world’s best truck drivers and just automatically move them into civilian truck driving jobs.”
Warren had similar questions for Master Chief Petty Officer Steven S. Giordano of the Navy, and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody.
Cody said the Air Force’s training of air traffic controllers includes them receiving Federal Aviation Administration certification that would allow them to be considered for similar civilian jobs. Giordano said the Navy is working to realign its training to more fully match civilian job requirements and certifications.
Warren said she does not want to change or lower civilian certification standards, but, “It seems to me America spends hundreds of millions of dollars each year to train our service members to do these highly skilled jobs. We train them to do these jobs with precision, to do them without mistakes, to do them in active combat situations and I believe they should be able to move into civilian life with those certifications. What concerns me right now is that too many service members are being roped into expensive credentialing programs by predatory for-profit colleges that are looking to get ahold of those military benefits and make a profit off them.”
Warren said she thinks it’s possible to make veterans’ military occupational certifications more easily transferable to the civilian workplace.