Readjusting to civilian life can be difficult for many young veterans, but having a clear goal in mind can go a long way toward easing the transition—especially when it comes to choosing a career path. For those interested in obtaining their pilot license and becoming an airline pilot, a test program introduced late last year may be the key to their success.
In September, 2017, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced the launch of its Forces to Flyers three-year research initiative, which it hopes will not only help military veterans get a new start as commercial pilots but also address the current shortage of airline pilots in the United States.
“In order for America to continue to be a world leader in aviation, we must search for ways to address our country’s pilot shortage, invest in our Nation’s workforce, and ensure that our veterans have the support they need as they transition to the next phase of their careers,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao in a press release about the program.
By participating in Forces to Flyers, veterans will undergo the required training to earn their Private Pilot Certificate, Instrument Rating, Commercial Pilot Certificate, Multi-Engine Rating, Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) Certificate, and CFI-Instrument Certificate, after which they will be qualified to work as flight instructors and accrue the flight hours needed to get their Airline Transport Pilot Certificate (ATP).
Who Can Participate in Forces to Flyers?
According to the website, veterans interested in taking advantage of the training provided through Forces to Flyers program should already have a first-class medical certificate, student pilot certificate, and a letter of reference from a previous or current commanding officer, teacher/instructor or supervisor/manager.
To begin the application process, eligible veterans should contact one of the four regional flight schools participating in the program:
- Western Pacific/Northwest/Mountain/Alaskan Region: Leading Edge Aviation, Inc. in Bend, Oregon
- Central/Great Lakes Region: CTI Professional Flight Training, LLC in Millington, Tennessee
- Southwest Region: U.S. Aviation Group, LLC in Denton, Texas
- Eastern/Southern Region: CTI Professional Flight Training, LLC in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Is the Program Really Free for Veterans?
The U.S. DOT covers all training costs for the program, including all course and flight work. Veterans are responsible for any relocation, housing, transportation, and similar costs not covered under the Forces to Flyers contract. Individuals are encouraged to contact the participating flight schools for additional cost information.
Before You Get Started, You’ll Need a Copy of Your DD214
Most veterans are familiar with the process of providing proof of service to take advantage of veterans-only discounts and benefits. These can range from a discount at your local hardware store to acquiring a VA mortgage, but all of them have something in common: You will need a copy of your DD214 to confirm your time spent in service to the U.S. Military.
If you already have your DD214, that’s great news. You can start the process today of becoming a pilot. However, if you are one of thousands of veterans whose DD214 has been lost, destroyed, stolen or never received, you have some choices.
Many vets start with the National Archives eVetRecs system, which offers to find missing military documents for free. In fact, you may have already been in contact with someone at the National Archives and discovered the process is not as speedy as you had hoped—and speed can make all the difference when veterans want to take advantage of limited-space programs such as Forces to Flyers.
Or, maybe you have gotten frustrated because you’re not sure how the system works and what is the best way to locate your form. (Did you know there are more than 100 different repositories nationwide that house military records?) The whole process can start to feel a little overwhelming, which is why we created DD214Direct.
DD214 Offers Veterans a Unique Benefit
Consider this: It’s free to file your own taxes, but do you really want to do it yourself? Hiring a tax preparer not only ensures accuracy, but it also helps you find credits and deductions you may have missed. At DD214Direct, we aim to help veterans get what they need when the standard process is taking more time or energy than they have to spare—and we do it at a price that fits within your budget.
Our team of expert researchers, IT professionals and seasoned government liaisons know the records retrieval process inside and out. We have built relationships with repositories across the country, and we deal directly with the government so you don’t have to. And, when we do find your records—typically weeks or months faster than the standard process—we can email them to you directly to save you even more time.
Bottom line: As a company founded by veterans for veterans, we want to make sure you don’t miss out on a single opportunity because of a missing DD214, especially when you’re about to take the next step in your career. Contact us to learn more, or start the ordering process today and let us do the work so you don’t have to.