In what is being called the first of its kind program in the nation, the Virginia Dept. of Motor Vehicles has joined forces with the military and trucking companies to help military veterans and members of the National Guard and reserves obtain commercial drivers licenses.

The Virginia DMV has certified the Army’s Fort Lee and the Marine base at Quantico as third-party testers to train personnel to operate commercial motor vehicles, and the Virginia National Guard is joining the program, according to a Richmond Times-Dispatch report.

Partnering with trucking and bus companies, the DMV is also providing potential transportation-related employment opportunities for military members after service.

“This is a solution to a problem that, frankly, Washington has not been able to address adequately,” Rep. Eric Cantor, R-7th, said at an event promoting the state’s Troops to Trucks initiative held last week at Estes Express Lines headquarters in Richmond.

Veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have an unemployment rate of 10.9% percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, compared with 8.1% national unemployment rate.

“We have over 500 openings for truck drivers,” said Rob Estes, Estes president and CEO. “I cannot think of a better group to draw from to be truck drivers” than members of the U.S. military.

Although veterans will still need to take DMV’s written exam, qualified military truck drivers with safe driving records won’t need to take the CDL driving skills test. The DMV said waiving the road test streamlines the commercial license process for military personnel.

For service members without experience driving heavy vehicles, DMV is working

with Fort Lee and Quantico Marine Base so military personnel can receive commercial driver training and testing at their base before leaving service.