Richmond County veterans are making sure lawmakers address certain key issues during the current legislative session.
One bill, House Bill 322, would allow the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles to waive the skills test portion of the application for a commercial drivers licence for veterans and members of the military who meet certain qualifications.
“This is almost a no-brainer,” said Jeff Joyner, Richmond County veteran and past state commander of the American Legion. “If a veteran can drive trucks, and did it for years in the military, he has to come back out and go through all the training again, right now? It’s a simple thing to me. If he did it for 8-10 years in the military, why would he not be qualified? They should still have to take the test, but shouldn’t have to go through another apprenticeship.”
Truckers are in high demand, sources said, and the increased demand could be met sooner if veterans with experience were able to bypass lengthy qualifying training.
“I strongly support this,” said State Representative Ken Goodman, of Richmond County. “I’m on several committees that deal with this and feel like the bill will sail. A person who drove trucks in the military for 20 years should not have to go back and start over.”
Goodman said there are other areas in which such a double standard exists where a person who is trained by the military has to be retrained in order to be certified to do technical work in North Carolina.
“We owe it to our veterans,” said Goodman. “They are going to be talented and do a great job and we need to take advantage of as many talented workers as we can.”
Another issue veterans have expressed a desire to see lawmakers complete has been on the books for several years. Richmond County veterans spoke with lawmakers to encourage passage of HB 159, and former governor Bev Perdue signed the bill into law in April 2011. The bill states that the Division of Motor Vehicles shall develop a military designation for drivers licenses that may, upon request, be granted to North Carolina residents on active duty and to their spouses and dependent children.
This bill also includes veterans in this, and reads, “The Division shall develop a military designation for drivers licenses and identification cards that may, upon request, be granted to North Carolina residents who are honorably discharged from military service in the United States Armed Forces. An applicant requesting this designation must produce a Form DD-214 showing the applicant has been honorably discharged from the United States Armed Forces.”
Joyner said the issue started in Rockingham several years ago, but is taking longer than expected to come to fruition.
“It’s a law on the books but we are still waiting on it,” said Joyner. “The DMV is putting it off waiting for the next generation of licenses. They said they are starting in June but they told us the same thing two Junes ago.”
According to Goodman, who co-sponsored the bill, the DMV has promised just this week that the new licenses are not far away.
“I was told by the DMV that by the next upgrade of computer systems it would happen,” said Goodman. “They said it would begin in June. It’s way past due but what happened was the company that was supposed to make the new licenses defaulted and went bankrupt. The DMV has probably wasted two years on this. It could take longer, but it’s on the way.”
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at email@example.com.