Although many companies choose Veterans Day to show their support of U.S. troops, more and more companies are thinking of ways to bolster the military community throughout the year. In 2014 alone, Starbucks' CEO Howard Schultz, the PepsiCo Foundation and Walmart all made significant donations and commitments to support veterans and their families. This week, Uber made a major commitment to veterans – but instead of making a donation to a nonprofit, Uber is going straight to the source, providing veterans and their families with gainful employment after service through the new UberMILITARY program.
Former Secretary of Defense and volunteer Chairman of the UberMILITARY Advisory Board, Dr. Robert Gates, announced the new program on Wednesday, declaring the ridesharing service will "on-board" 50,000 members of the military community in the next 18 months. The program will help provide full- and part-time opportunities for veterans and their spouses by becoming Uber drivers to "empower them as entrepreneurs and small business owners." Beyond flexible schedules for those getting back on their feet after service, the program will also offer vehicle financing and military-specific on-boarding events across the country. Dr. Gates describes why the program is a good fit, "Time and again, our service men and women have committed to serving our country, and UberMILITARY is committed to serving them with the economic opportunity, flexibility and entrepreneurship that are the foundation of the Uber platform."
Veterans transitioning back to civilian life face high unemployment rates – 21.4 percent for veterans under the age of 25 (compared to the 6.1 percent national average) – so it seems almost natural that a company that experts have hailed as "growing faster than eBay did" would open its doors to provide employment. What's more, Uber has found veteran drivers maintain higher than average driver ratings, making it a win-for our military veterans, the national economy and their bottom-line.