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The Lancaster County Career & Technology Center knows that the trucking industry needs drivers.

And the LCCTC knows many military veterans and their spouses need jobs.

Now, thanks to the school winning a $194,800 federal grant, the LCCTC is able to play matchmaker.

LCCTC is offering its commercial  truck-driving training course to 36 military veterans (or their spouses) over the next two years for free.

LCCTC officials expect interest among veterans and their spouses to be high.

“I see training 36 students over the next two years as a drop in the bucket,” said Vance Miller, director of commercial driver’s license (CDL) training for LCCTC.

“It will be no problem,” he said.

LCCTC begins the five-week CDL training course the first Monday of the month. So veterans and spouses of veterans can begin taking the course for free as soon as Nov. 2.

News of the grant was announced Thursday by U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, the Pennsylvania Democrat.

The grant comes from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

The agency has offered the grant program since 2005.

But the LCCTC didn’t know about the initiative until January when Mike Moeller, the school’s supervisor of curriculum, saw it listed on a federal government website.

Moeller was immediately interested in pursuing it.

“There’s nothing negative about it,” he said. “We didn’t have to develop a new program. We just have to reserve a few spots for veterans or their spouses.”

LCCTC has offered the CDL training program since 1987. On average, 15 people a month take the 200-hour course.

Participation in the course, offered only at the Mount Joy campus, is limited to adults because a person must be at least 18 to get a CDL.

The course culminates with the CDL exam, given at the Mount Joy campus.

The federal grant will cover 80 percent of the tuition for a veteran or veteran’s spouse. The LCCTC will cover the balance.

Miller said demand for commercial truck drivers is “very strong,” with the industry wanting to hire 300,000 nationwide.

“I advertise near 100 percent job placement,” said Miller. “Each student who comes through here gets two or three job offers.”

Ten to 12 recruiters visit the program monthly, he said.

Miller tells his students that the average entry-level commercial truck driving job pays $45,000 a year.

For more information in the course or to register, veterans and spouses of veterans can contact the LCCTC’s Nicole Spittler at 653-3003 or nspittler@lancasterctc.edu.

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