How Veterans Can Get Free Truck Driver Training and Commercial Driving License

(U.S Air Force/Senior Airman Ryan Gomez)

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 72% of the goods that are moved in America are carried by truck. Without people to drive those trucks, the U.S. economy starts grinding to a halt. And there is currently a severe shortage of truck drivers.

Hiring Our Heroes, an initiative of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, is stepping in to help put U.S. military veterans in those trucks with its Drive for 500 campaign.

There are 55,500 jobs open in America's trucking industry, an area critical to the daily lives of everyone in the United States. Fixing problems in the supply chain requires increasing those who move goods along that chain, so Drive for 500 is providing free training for veterans to get commercial driver's licenses (CDLs).

A CDL is a requirement to drive large, heavy or hazardous materials for commercial purposes. All classes of CDLs require some kind of written test; some require a road test. But it's worth the effort: The average annual salary of a U.S. truck driver in 2021 was more than $48,000, and some earned more than $100,000.

Due to the huge demand for drivers, wages are only increasing.

Drive for 500 is helping put vets behind the wheel by providing 500 full-ride CDL scholarships to interested veterans with the help of TransForce Group, a CDL training, recruitment and job placement firm.

TransForce Group's Troops Into Transportation Master Driving Program is a full-service initiative that operates regional training centers throughout the country. Veterans learning the skills it takes to be a truck driver would normally have to use their GI Bill benefits to pay for the classes, but Drive for 500 is picking up the tab for a few hundred eligible vets.

The scholarship includes all required instruction and behind-the-wheel training; travel and transportation to training sites; lodging; training materials; and all Department of Transportation physical and testing fees. The only thing veterans will need to pay for are meals and incidentals.

TransForce Group has brought together more than 500 employers who need skilled, qualified and reliable butts in seats to fill those 55,500 trucking jobs. The training company boasts that its graduates make an average of $60,000 per year in their new careers.

Veterans and Reserve or National Guard military personnel must have an honorable or general under honorable conditions discharge. They need to be at least 18 years old, pass a drug test and meet the school's admission requirements.

Military spouses are also eligible for the training program.

Anyone interested in learning more about the program or applying for the CDL scholarship should go to the TransForce Group's Drive for 500 information website.

-- Blake Stilwell can be reached at He can also be found on Twitter @blakestilwell or on Facebook.

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