If you’re one of the 70,000 military spouses, veterans or service members who drives for Uber, you may have heard that they recently rolled out a feature for their Uber military program that lets riders know if you are part of the military community.
The announcement that a driver is a veteran or a military spouse appears for riders in the Uber app after they’ve accepted a ride with one. Uber officials designed the notification to help riders say “thank you” to those who have served or who are part of a military family.
But could labeling drivers by their affiliation cause a military security concern? We know that military families have been warned in the past about threats from terrorists who may be targeting military families both in person and online. Does allowing Uber to let a rider know that much about you cause a problem?
Uber officials said they don’t think so.
"We want to help honor and recognize those who have served in a way that's flexible and doesn't put anyone at undo safety risk," said Keith Keith Hensley, who manages Uber's special products team, including its military program.
That’s why Uber officials decided to make the app feature entirely opt-in for the drivers-- and easy to opt-out of if they change their minds later. When a military-affiliated driver becomes verified, he or she can turn the notification on. If for some reason they want to turn it off later, that’s simple to do, too.
"If you say ‘yes’ it will start populating, and if you say ‘no,’ you’ll continue to get the other perks” that Uber offers its drivers, Hensley said.
There’s also no way for a rider to specifically request a military-affiliated driver, he said.
“It’s completely at random. There’s no way that you can say ‘I want a member of the UberMILITARY community to be my driver,” he said.
Uber has partnered with the U.S. Chamber’s Hiring Our Heroes to reach out to transitioning troops and military spouses. And while for many driving for the Uber military program may not be a long term employment strategy, it can help bring in some extra income as you look for other work.