In order to Save America, the White House Wants Veterans to Work in Trucking
America's trucking industry moves 72% of American goods, but needs 80,000 new truckers to keep the country moving. To answer this critical supply chain need, President Joe Biden is launching the Veterans Trucking Task Force to put veterans in driver's seats.
The Veterans Trucking Task Force will work with national veterans organizations to create a plan to attract vets and separating service members to the trucking industry. A 2019 census report says veterans currently make up 10% of all truckers, but Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg says 300,000 truckers leave the industry every year.
"We must do more and do better to recruit more people into the job and support them, so they choose to stay in the job," Buttigieg said at a ceremony for the launch of the Veterans Trucking Task Force at the White House on April 4, 2022.
Trucking costs rose by 20% in 2021, according to a White House statement. Meanwhile, a surge in demand for truckers during the global COVID-19 pandemic coincided with a declining number of truck drivers due to high turnover caused by low job quality.
"If you can handle a tank, if you can handle an armored personnel carrier, you can sure as hell handle one of these suckers," Biden said, referring to the trucks parked behind the podium on the White House South Lawn.
Leading the new task force will be former Pennsylvania congressman Patrick Murphy, one-time undersecretary of the Army and Iraq War veteran. His grandfather became a commercial truck driver after his World War II service. Murphy's father moonlighted as a trucker on weekends.
"What the task force is all about is to create that bridge between veterans and the trucking industry," Murphy said. "For my family, which was built and survived on that industry, that bridge is how we got through. It needs to be more accessible to veterans."
The Biden administration has already taken steps to help improve conditions in and access to the trucking industry, including expanding apprenticeships for commercial truck drivers and providing federal funds to states to cut the red tape involved with issuing commercial driver's licenses (CDL).
In addition, the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) signed into law late last year orders the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to create a Truck Leasing Task Force (TLTF). This task force is investigating predatory truck leasing arrangements that convince drivers they can be their own boss, but often end up restricting their options while saddling them with debt.
It's all a part of an effort to improve the quality of life for truckers and retain them in this critical industry while making it more attractive to newcomers.
Biden's effort has seen some success in recent days. A 90-Day Trucking Apprenticeship Challenge has led to the creation of trucking apprenticeships in seven industry associations and more than 100 private companies, such as Frito-Lay, UPS and Domino's Pizza. The effort also doubled the number of issued CDLs between 2021 and 2022.
Veterans and separating service members interested in a career in trucking or a trucking apprenticeship can learn more about military-connected programs or find an apprenticeship in their area through FASTPORT's National Apprenticeship website. Just answer a few questions about yourself and your employment situation.
They can also learn more about what resources are available to veterans transitioning to a career in trucking under the Biden administration's task force with the Department of Labor's Trucking Action Plan fact sheet.