Uber boasts 50,000 drivers who are veterans, service members or military spouses -- and it wants to recruit even more.
The San Francisco company announced Thursday plans to offer bonuses for veteran referrals, expand its ride-hailing service to military bases, and donate $1 million to organizations that support veterans and their families.
The move is part of an initiative announced 18 months ago called UberMilitary, in which the ride-hailing company proactively reached out to veteran support agencies to recruit drivers.
"When I got to Uber, I knew it was one of the perfect income opportunities for veterans making the transition [out of the military] … because they could turn on and off work for whatever reason," said Emil Michael, Uber's senior vice president of business. Prior to joining Uber, Michael was the special assistant to the U.S. secretary of Defense, a job in which he says he learned of the challenges veterans face once they leave the military.
Marine Robert Isaac Jr., 35, of San Francisco said he was able to rely on Uber as a source of income while he retrained to be a user experience software designer. He now drives for Uber full-time as he searches for a job in that field.
"The biggest challenge for me was the uncertainty of what I was going to do after I got out [of the military]," Isaac said. "Once you're out and those paychecks stop coming through, what are you going to do to support yourself and your family?"
He says Uber alleviated that uncertainty for him and his peers.
As part of the recruitment effort, Uber said it plans to lobby base commanders to give drivers access to military bases and provide bonuses to those who make those trips.
The company also is donating $1 million to organizations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation's Hiring Our Heroes, Homes for our Troops, and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.