Veterans need access to affordable and reliable transportation services to take jobs, receive medical care and visit loved ones. Having a reliable way to arrive at a destination can be one of the surest ways to transition back to civilian life and attain benefits earned through service. Older veterans can also obtain a lifeline to their communities through transportation and driving their own cars. There are many government agencies, nonprofits, grants and veteran service organizations that can help.
Where Vets Can Find Transportation Help
Many veterans suffer from visual and physical impairments due to a disability, sickness or injury sustained during service. Those living in rural areas may face additional challenges in meeting their transportation needs, lacking the means to have access to cars, buses and other ways of getting places. With an increasing number of older veterans, mobility matters more than ever, but a network of organizations and programs offers options.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers a variety of assistance programs for vets in need. Through joint efforts with community transportation providers, government agencies, nonprofits and many others, you may be able to qualify for help.
- Veterans Transportation Service: VTS is a government program that provides transportation for veterans who need help getting to their medical appointments. Any veteran who qualifies for VA benefits can find help through the VTS, even if you live in a rural location.
- Veterans Automobile Allowance: If you have a disability related to your military service, you may be eligible to receive a one-time payment up to more than $21,000 to help purchase a vehicle that’s been adapted to your needs.
- Veterans Beneficiary Travel Programs: Beneficiary Travel offers reimbursement for any travel related to medical care treatment. Veterans who have disabilities that are related to service can potentially qualify.
- Highly Rural Transportation Grants (HRTG): Highly rural grants are intended to provide transportation in counties with fewer than seven people per square mile. HRTG reaches some of the most rural communities throughout the country in states including North Dakota, Montana and Idaho. You can find out if your community is included in the HRTG program.
- Veterans Transportation and Community Living Initiative (VTCLI): The VTCLI is a program that focuses on helping veterans and others understand and arrange for locally available transportation services that connect them with work, education, health care, and vital services.
More than 45,000 nonprofit organizations have been established to help U.S. military veterans and their families. Many organizations focus specifically on increasing the range of available transportation options. From delivering minivans to offering airline tickets and snowmobiles, such nonprofits provide services and support which can help.
- Hero Miles: Hero Miles helps military members and their families get free airline tickets to balance their home life with their hospital and/or medical appointments. A veteran must be a wounded, injured or ill service member on ordinary leave to qualify.
- Disabled American Veterans (DAV): DAV is a nonprofit that offers a host of services for veterans, including transportation services. With volunteers all over the country, they can ensure that veterans get to their medical appointments.
- Help Our Military Heroes: HOMH delivers minivans that have been adapted to serve disabled veterans. The organization promises that 100% of all donations help it to buy modified minivans.
- Angel Wings for Veterans: Angel Wings for Veterans offers transportation services in the form of vehicles, commercial airline tickets, bus tickets, train tickets and gas money.
- Semper Fi and America’s Fund: Transportation services are just one small subsect of what this organization does. It also provides adaptive modes of transportation, including modified wheelchairs and even snow removal equipment for veterans.
Transportation Benefits and Discounts
Whether you’re traveling by car, bus, train or plane, transportation discounts are often available to veterans and active duty military members. When it comes to car insurance rates and car loans, certain insurers also offer coverage and benefits.
Commuter and Long-Distance Travel
- Uber: In the past, Uber has honored Veterans Day by providing military families with $25 in Uber ride credit. By confirming your military affiliation and checking the app, you may be eligible to receive discounts in the form of travel credit.
- Greyhound: If you're an active-duty military member, National Guard and Reserve, or veteran, you'll get 10% off any tickets for you and your family.
- Amtrak: At 10%, Amtrak offers a discount similar to Greyhound. This discount is for current and retired military personnel, their spouses and their dependents. Any uniformed military personnel can also go to the head of the ticket line.
- The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA): MTA, which is New York City’s public transport system, offers 25% off on all fares for active-duty military members, just so long as you present an ID.
- Chicago Transit Authority (CTA)'s Military Services Pass: With the Military Service Pass, Chicago goes a step above the rest and offers free rides for any active-duty military members or disabled veterans. The authority has provided free rides for over 8,000 veterans.
If you are storing your vehicle on a military base or driving your vehicle less while serving overseas, your auto insurance rates may be more affordable. Generally, active-duty members are likely to obtain steeper discounts from insurers, but veterans may be eligible for discounts, too. Here are a few insurance companies for military members.
- USAA: USAA is often the go-to insurance company for military members and veterans. You’ll get lower rates, multiple discount options and highly-rated customer service. You’ll also have a dedicated agent who can answer any of your questions.
- Geico: While USAA caters its policies to service members, Geico offers major discounts. As a military-friendly insurance company, it offers up to 15% off your monthly premiums.
- Esurance: Esurance allows active-duty military members to cancel their policies without any penalties if they’re called to active-duty. Upon return, it’s relatively easy to reinstate your insurance.
Veterans are often eligible for extra financing and support. When it comes to buying a vehicle, it’s no different. Depending on your needs, there are various options.
- USAA: From getting preapproved to signing hefty documents, USAA's policies are specifically tailored for military members, a relative of someone in the military and veterans.
- Pentagon Federal Credit Union: These government-backed loans offer competitive interest rates with little to no down payments. Backed by the US Department of Veterans Affairs, they are available to qualified vets and others.
Expert Insight on Transportation Support Options
- Are there national or state-level programs that can help veterans access transportation support easier?
- Transportation assistance in rural areas can be especially difficult. How would you recommend that veterans get the support they need?
Voluntary Services Director at Disabled American Veterans
Mobility Manager at Veterans Affairs’ Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System
If you are an active-duty military member or a veteran, other organizations can help. Here are some of the best resources available for helping you access the care and benefits you deserve:
- Military OneSource: This resource offers 24/7 access to veterans and can help with finding education and employment opportunities.
- Lifeline for Vets: The NVF helps manage the crisis management, information and referral needs of all U.S. Veterans and their families. It offers the nation’s only toll-free, vet-to-vet helpline for veterans, in addition to other services and programs.
- America’s Warrior Partnership: Veterans are heavily involved in this program which offers career, education, medical and transportation support to veterans in need.
- Our Military Kids: Our Military Kids seeks to empower military kids by funding sports, arts and other enrichment activities when their parents are deployed overseas with the National Guard or Reserves, or recovering from injuries from a post-9/11 operation.
About Christopher Murray
- National Center for Transit Research. "Improving Veteran Mobility in Small Urban and Rural Areas." Accessed June 14, 2021.
- The Bush Institute. "Serving Our Post- 9/11 Vets." Accessed June 22, 2021.
- U.S. Department of Transportation. "For Returning Military Vets, Transportation Is Key to Reintegration as Civilians." Accessed June 15, 2021.
- U.S. Department of Transportation. "Veterans Transportation and Community Living Initiative." Accessed June 15, 2021.
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. "National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics." Accessed June 14, 2021.