Navigating the Road Ahead: A Veteran’s Guide to Trucking Careers Using GI Bill Benefits

Truck for a hero section
Written by Mike Skliar

The transition of veterans to civilian careers, especially in the trucking industry, represents a crucial phase in their post-military life. Veterans bring a unique set of skills, discipline, and work ethic to the workforce, making trucking an appealing option. 

The GI Bill plays a pivotal role in facilitating this transition by providing educational benefits and financial support to veterans seeking training in commercial driving. Through the GI Bill, veterans can access resources to obtain their commercial driver’s license (CDL), making it easier for them to enter the trucking profession. This not only serves as a pathway for veterans to seamlessly integrate into civilian life but also addresses the growing demand for skilled truck drivers in the transportation industry.

Trucking as a Career Option for Veterans

Trucking careers align exceptionally well with the skills acquired by veterans during their military service, making it a highly suitable transition for them. The trucking business may immediately benefit from the discipline, meticulous attention to detail, and dedication to safety developed in the military. Strong problem-solving and logistical skills are frequently possessed by veterans, which are essential for navigating challenging routes and meeting deadlines.

Truck drivers are in high demand, and this demand is only anticipated to rise as the workforce ages and e-commerce becomes increasingly popular. Furthermore, there is a significant chance for career advancement in the transportation industry. Veterans in the transportation sector can rise from entry-level jobs to specialized positions like managing logistics operations or driving big loads, providing them with a rewarding and upward career path. Veterans are particularly important assets in a career that demands dependability and dedication because of the adaptability and resilience that are fostered in the military.

Benefits for Veterans Interested in Trucking

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides a range of resources to support veterans in their transition to civilian careers, including those in the transportation field. The GI Bill stands out as a significant resource, offering education payment benefits that can be utilized for vocational training, including obtaining a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Veterans can pursue trucking education programs, and the GI Bill covers tuition, fees, and a housing allowance during the training period.

The VA often collaborates with state agencies to facilitate testing waivers for CDL exams, streamlining the licensing process for veterans. Through initiatives like the Veteran Employment Through Technology Education Courses (VET TEC), the VA connects veterans with high-tech training programs, potentially opening doors to advanced roles in transportation technology. The VA also works to establish connections between veterans and employers in the transportation sector, fostering job placement opportunities and easing the transition for veterans entering this dynamic industry. These comprehensive resources underscore the commitment of the VA to support veterans in building successful careers after their military service.

The United States government exhibits an unwavering dedication to aiding veterans in their shift to civilian occupations, with a specific emphasis on the trucking sector. A number of initiatives and programs that emphasize the value of veterans’ talents and the need for their contributions in the transportation industry are in place to help with this process. The GI Bill is essential because it helps veterans pursue professions in trucking by lowering their financial load, paying for training necessary to get a commercial driver’s license (CDL), and supporting their educational expenses.

The government also interacts with state agencies to simplify processes, giving testing waivers for CDL exams and speeding veterans’ entry into the workforce. There is a concentrated effort to provide veterans with the skills they need for advanced employment in the developing transportation industry through programs like VET TEC. In addition to recognizing the sacrifices made by veterans, this commitment actively promotes their successful reintegration into society, guaranteeing a seamless and fulfilling transfer to careers in the transportation sector.

Overview of the GI Bill

The GI Bill, officially known as the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, is a U.S. federal law that provides a range of benefits to veterans of the armed forces. The primary purpose of the GI Bill is to assist veterans in their transition to civilian life by offering education and training opportunities, as well as various other benefits.

Types of Benefits under the GI Bill

Education Benefits:

  • Post-9/11 GI Bill. This is the most recent version of the GI Bill, providing financial support for education and housing to individuals who have served on active duty after September 10, 2001.
  • Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB). This program offers education benefits to veterans who have actively served and contributed to the MGIB fund during their military service.

Training and Certification Benefits:

  • Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E). Also known as the Chapter 31 program, it assists veterans with service-connected disabilities in preparing for, finding, and maintaining suitable employment.

Home Loan Guaranty:

  • The GI Bill provides eligible veterans with home loan guaranty benefits, making it easier for them to obtain home loans with favorable terms.

Job Training and Apprenticeship Programs:

  • Veterans may use their GI Bill benefits for approved job training and apprenticeship programs to acquire skills and qualifications in various career fields.

Benefits Regarding Trucking Career

  • Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Training. The GI Bill can be used to cover the costs of obtaining a CDL, which is crucial for pursuing a career in trucking. This includes expenses related to CDL training programs offered by approved institutions.
  • Apprenticeship Programs. Veterans can use their GI Bill benefits to participate in approved apprenticeship programs for trucking. This allows them to gain hands-on experience while receiving financial support.
  • Job Placement Assistance. Many GI Bill programs provide assistance in job placement and counseling, helping veterans connect with trucking companies seeking qualified drivers.
  • Housing Allowance. For veterans utilizing the Post-9/11 GI Bill, a housing allowance is provided based on the location of the educational institution. This financial support can be beneficial when pursuing trucking education or training.

Using GI Bill for CDL Training

Potential schools or programs that are compatible with the GI Bill can include private truck driving schools, community colleges, and technical or vocational institutions that offer CDL training. It’s essential to verify the program’s approval status with the VA before enrolling.

Veterans considering using the GI Bill for CDL training should contact the VA or visit their official website for the most up-to-date information and guidance on eligibility, application procedures, and approved programs.

Here’s how the GI Bill can be utilized for obtaining a CDL:

  • Eligibility. To use the GI Bill benefits, individuals must be eligible veterans or active-duty service members. Eligibility criteria may vary depending on the specific GI Bill program, such as the Post-9/11 GI Bill or the Montgomery GI Bill.
  • Choose an Approved Program. Veterans and service members need to select a CDL training program that is approved for GI Bill benefits. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) maintains a database of approved programs. It’s crucial to ensure that the chosen CDL training school or program is listed in this database.
  • Apply for GI Bill Benefits. After selecting an approved CDL training program, veterans or service members must apply for GI Bill benefits through the VA. This process involves completing the necessary paperwork, such as the application form for education benefits.
  • Certificate of Eligibility (COE). Once the application is processed, the VA will issue a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) to the individual. This document confirms the person’s eligibility for GI Bill benefits and specifies the approved program.
  • Enroll in the CDL Training Program. With the COE in hand, individuals can enroll in the approved CDL training program of their choice. The GI Bill benefits can cover the cost of tuition, fees, and, in some cases, a housing allowance and books.
  • Training and Certification. The CDL training program typically includes a combination of classroom instruction, behind-the-wheel training, and on-the-road experience. Upon successful completion of the program, individuals are eligible to take the CDL examination administered by the relevant state licensing authority.
  • Receiving GI Bill Benefits. GI Bill benefits are typically paid directly to the training program or school. In the case of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, individuals may also receive a monthly housing allowance and a stipend for books and supplies.

Steps to Getting Started in Trucking

Here’s a quick list of steps to take if you want to work in the trucking industry as a veteran.

Research and Assess Interest:

  • Explore the trucking industry and understand the various types of trucking jobs available.
  • Assess personal interest and suitability for a career in trucking.

Meet Eligibility Requirements:

  • Ensure eligibility for GI Bill benefits by checking with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Choose a Trucking School:

  • Research and select a reputable trucking school that is VA-approved for GI Bill benefits.
  • Consider factors such as location, cost, curriculum, and job placement assistance.

Apply for GI Bill Benefits:

  • Complete the application for GI Bill benefits through the VA website or by visiting a local VA office.
  • Provide necessary documentation, including proof of eligibility and acceptance into a VA-approved trucking school.

Attend Trucking School:

  • Enroll in the chosen trucking school and complete the required training program.
  • Ensure the school reports attendance and progress to the VA for GI Bill benefit processing.

Obtain a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL):

  • Successfully complete the trucking school’s training program and pass the CDL exam.
  • Obtain the necessary endorsements based on the type of trucking job desired (e.g., hazardous materials).

Research Trucking Companies:

  • Explore potential employers and job opportunities in the trucking industry.
  • Consider factors like company reputation, pay, benefits, and job location.

Apply for Trucking Jobs:

  • Submit applications to trucking companies that align with career goals.
  • Highlight military experience and CDL training in resumes and cover letters.

Utilize Job Placement Services:

  • Take advantage of job placement services offered by the trucking school or veteran support organizations.

Transition to a Trucking Career:

  • Successfully secure a trucking job and begin the transition to a new career.
  • Continue to learn and adapt to the trucking industry while gaining valuable on-the-road experience.

In Conclusion

Trucking presents a promising and viable career option for veterans, offering a unique opportunity to leverage their skills and discipline gained during military service. The benefits provided by the GI Bill make it more accessible for veterans to enter the trucking industry by covering essential expenses such as CDL training, apprenticeships, and providing job placement assistance.

For veterans considering a career in trucking, cooperation with Owner Operator Land can be highly advantageous. By connecting with reputable and trusted companies through our platform, veterans can access a network of opportunities that align with their career goals. Owner Operator Land serves as a valuable bridge, linking veterans with established trucking companies, ensuring a smooth transition into the industry. Contact us today to secure your career.

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Author Mike Skliar

As the truck driver recruiting agency's CEO, I deeply understand the unique challenges and demands truck drivers face.

Drawing from my extensive work experience, I bring knowledge in truck driver recruitment, logistics, and transportation management. I possess a comprehensive understanding of industry regulations, safety standards, and best practices, ensuring that the agency adheres to the highest standards of professionalism and compliance.

Now, looking back and remembering my path from the very beginning, it seems to me that this story is a lifetime. During all these years of development and growth of our agency, I took part in no less interesting projects in which my experience, knowledge and vision were needed. And I was also able to gain new skills, contacts and experience by participating in the development of these projects from various fields, such as cargo transportation, trucking companies, e-commerce, parcel delivery and much more! But the best is yet to come!

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