Discounted and Free Ride Services for Veterans Are on the Rise
In recent years, ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft have launched nationwide programs to assist disabled veterans and their families, while smaller services like Alamo Call-a-Ride 4 Vets in San Antonio cater to a more local clientele.
Rides for More Than Just Medical Appointments
Such services often offer veterans and their families more than just the rides to and from VA health facilities that the Veterans Transportation Service (VTS) and Highly Rural Transportation Grants (HRTG) programs are designed to facilitate. Alamo Call-a-Ride 4 Vets, for example, offers rides for “a variety of purposes,” ranging from VA appointments to social and family activities.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has long provided veterans with transportation assistance through programs like the VTS and HRTG, but the development of national companies pitching in to help veterans get around for free or at discounted prices is a welcome one.
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Lyft earlier this year expanded its Relief Ride program — started in response to natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey and the California wildfires — to provide free rides to returning veterans and people with low incomes. Qualified individuals can use Relief Ride to get to medical appointments, as well as to job interviews and job training sessions.
Lyft said it would be committing $1.5 million to Relief Ride in 2018 and beyond.
Uber’s contribution to the effort has been to provide veterans and their families with $25 gift cards for free rides while they’re staying at Fisher House locations in Miami, Los Angeles, Houston, St. Louis and Washington. The Fisher House Foundation provides free housing for families near military and VA hospitals where their loved ones are receiving treatment.
Veterans Get In on the Gig Economy
Many veterans work for ridesharing companies. Uber has reported that nearly 70,000 of its drivers in the U.S. are vets. The company tells passengers with a notification in the Uber app if their driver is a veteran.
Lyft partnered with No One Left Behind in early 2018 to assist interpreters who worked with U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq become drivers with the company. No One Left Behind is a nonprofit that helps settle interpreters who’ve come to the U.S. on special immigrant visas (SIV). Lyft offers SIV holders driver training and free rentals if they don’t have access to a car.
VA, Partners Continue to Do the Heavy Lifting
The addition of more sources of transportation for military families has been welcomed by veterans groups, especially those that provide rides to a variety of destinations.
But the bulk of the effort to get vets to medical appointments is still carried out by the Department of Veteran Affairs and partners like the nonprofit charity DAV, which operates 1,300 chapters across the country and provides more than 600,000 rides for veterans every year.
If you’re a rideshare driver, you may not be completely covered by your car insurance. USAA can take care of coverage gaps for as little as $6 a month.1
1Countrywide average price for policyholders who have $100,000 per person/$300,000 per accident Bodily Injury coverage. Rideshare Gap Protection extends your personal auto policy coverage from the time you turn on the rideshare app until you are matched with a passenger. Rates vary by location and risk and are subject to change.
Automobile insurance provided by United Services Automobile Association, USAA Casualty Insurance Company, USAA General Indemnity Company, Garrison Property and Casualty Insurance Company, and USAA Ltd. (Europe), San Antonio, TX, and is available only to persons eligible for P&C group membership. Each company has sole financial responsibility for its own products.