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Looking to the Future: How Service Members and Veterans Can Prepare for the Trucking Industry Workforce

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PENSACOLA, Fla. - Service members and veterans can get ready for life after the military by using the DOD’s Credentialing Opportunities On-Line (COOL) programs, MilGears, United Services Military Apprenticeship Program and DOD SkillBridge.

Many Sailors gain unique logistics-related skills during their naval service, making the civilian trucking industry a viable future career choice.

Managed by the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Force Education and Training, these tools include the DOD’s Credentialing Opportunities On-Line (COOL) programs, the MilGears Platform Suite of Tools, the United Services Military Apprenticeship Program (USMAP) and the SkillBridge program.

“For the Navy, these online tools are all great opportunities for Sailors and Navy veterans,” said Keith Boring, Navy Credentialing Programs branch head at Naval Education and Training Command (NETC). “We recognize and value the contributions Sailors and our service members continue to make in their careers after the service, and these programs are available to help them navigate achieving their professional goals.”

Service members and veterans can capture their military occupational data, map it to civilian occupations, find associated civilian career pathways, earn apprenticeships and certifications, and partner with industry employers to begin new careers in many fields such as the trucking industry.

“With COOL, a service member or veteran can pursue at least two relevant credentials that are directly tied to the trucking industry, as well as credentials related to the logistics side,” said Mike Talley, the director of Navy COOL. “The Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) relates to 27 broad military occupations, and the Transportation Worker Identification Card (TWIC) relates to over 120 broad military occupations. Navy COOL can help you discover and understand pathways to this kind of credentialing and potentially how to fund the credentials.”

The MilGears Platform Suite of Tools is a newer tool initially developed by the U.S. Navy and then further expanded by DOD for all the services. Powered by the extensively detailed data contained in COOL, such as military, civilian and federal occupations and industry-recognized credentials, MilGears considers the entirety of the individual service member’s or veteran’s unique military and civilian career background, as well as on and off-duty qualifications and credentials.

“MilGears lets you upload formal documentation, capture military training and experience, and add any additional uniquely obtained qualifications from your service,” said Boring. “If you were driving in convoys during deployments in Iraq or Afghanistan, those skills relate to driving experience that contribute towards the CDL and the TWIC.”

The formal military training program USMAP allows Sailors to earn a nationally recognized journeyman certificate from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Active-duty and Full Time Support (FTS) Navy, Marine Corps, Army, and Coast Guard service members have the opportunity to improve their job skills and to complete their civilian apprenticeship requirements while serving.

“Occupational career fields, such as heavy and tractor-trailer truck driving, are approved registered apprenticeship trades through USMAP, so service members can complete the journeyman apprenticeship trade as part of their daily military job,” said Tom Phillips, USMAP director at NETC. “Your military supervisor provides monthly validation for the list of required military occupation competencies. You demonstrate the competency and fulfill any time-based requirements, and depending on the trade, it could take as little as a year to complete or may require up to four years to complete.”

Over the last few years, USMAP has assisted more than 60 DOD service members in earning the heavy truck driving registered apprenticeship journeyman certificate. More than 340 personnel across the services are currently enrolled in this apprenticeship.

During their last 180 days of service, Sailors can take advantage of the DOD SkillBridge program. Before separating from the military, they can gain valuable civilian work experience through specific industry internships, job training, employment skills training and DOL-registered apprenticeship programs.

SkillBridge connects service members with industry partners in real-world job experiences and provides an invaluable chance to work and learn in civilian career areas. While industry partners have access to and can leverage the world’s most highly trained and motivated workforce at no cost, service members continue to receive their military compensation and benefits.

To participate in the SkillBridge program, the industry partner programs must offer a high probability of post-service employment with the provider or other employers in a field related to the opportunity. With more than 1,600 partnerships developed between industry and the DOD, over 70 are in the transportation and material moving industry. More than 700 service members have graduated from SkillBridge trucking industry partner programs in the last few years.

For more information about these programs, visit:
• MilGears: https://milgears.osd.mil/
DOD COOL: https://cool.osd.mil
• USMAP: https://usmap.osd.mil
DOD SkillBridge: https://skillbridge.osd.mil

NETC, as the largest shore command in the U.S. Navy, recruits, trains, and delivers those who serve our nation, taking them from street-to-fleet by transforming civilians into highly skilled, operational, and combat ready warfighters.

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