Uber, the ride-sharing company founded in San Francisco in 2009, noticed something interesting about the ratings its drivers received: Those earning the most accolades were often military members or veterans. Additionally, current and former military member drivers tended to make more trips than civilian drivers through Uber.
These findings sparked a new initiative announced last week: UberMILITARY, an effort to recruit 50,000 veterans, military members and their spouses to become Uber drivers over the next 18 months. Representatives from the company will visit veteran job fairs, offer recruitment bonuses and waive city fees and deposits for veterans.
Uber runs a background check on its driver applicants, and then if they pass, puts them through an online training course. Additionally, it provides financing to its drivers to buy a new car or lets them drive their own car. Uber takes a 20 percent cut of the driver’s gross earnings (the drivers pay for gas, insurance, and maintenance themselves).
Some have pointed out that earning a lot of money through Uber requires working a very long week, but the benefit for military members might be the flexibility. Drivers can work when they want and as much or as little as they want — making it a reasonable gig for someone who is attending school, has a spotty job record (as some military spouses do due to multiple moves) or might be called up to active duty with little notice.
Robert Gates, former Secretary of Defense, is serving as the volunteer chairman of the Ubermilitary advisory board. He and Travis Kalanick, Uber’s CEO, write in Politico, “Too often, businesses do not have a clear understanding of how service members’ skills might translate to the civilian workplace. UberMILITARY is a reflection that high-quality service, an unparalleled commitment to safety and the leadership potential inherent to small business entrepreneurship are values shared by those who have selflessly served our country.”