CHARLESTON, W.Va. - An initiative in Boone County is trying to match West Virginia's Army reservists and members of the National Guard with employers who want to hire them.
They're doing that by giving them a simple thing: a commercial driver's license, or CDL.
CDLs are required for drivers of any kind of commercial vehicle that weighs more than 26,000 pounds or carries potentially hazardous materials. The licenses are expensive to obtain, however. It can cost several thousand dollars to get the required training and testing out of the way.
That's cost prohibitive for many guardsmen and reservists, but that doesn't mean they wouldn't make good drivers. Many of them already drive large vehicles in their military jobs.
That training and experience is easily applicable to their civilian lives; it just doesn't come with a CDL.
The initiative by the Boone Career and Technical Center and Southern West Virginia Career and Technical Center plus the employer support division for the Guard and Reserve in West Virginia, will let military members get their CDL training for free, and in just a few days.
To Lt. Col. Joel Miltenberger, who is in charge of employer support of the Guard and Reserve, it was a natural fit.
As he talked to employers across the state about their job openings, looking for opportunities to put members of the Guard and reserve into positions, he ran into a common answer.
"We found that an underlying theme was they said, 'Hey, if they have a CDL, I could hire them now,'" he said.
"What we're doing is taking people who have that skill set and basically giving them a little bit of assistance."