Uber and Lyft announced Tuesday that they are stepping up this Veteran's Day to offer free rides to former members of the US armed services. It's part of a White House initiative called Joining Forces, which pairs private companies with veterans in need. The two ride-sharing companies could make a huge difference to returning soldiers who are at greater risk of joblessness and homelessness than the civilian population.

"We have heard time and time again that transportation to and from work and job interviews is often a significant hurdle for homeless veterans trying to find work," Air Force Col. Nicole Malachowski, Joining Forces executive director, wrote in a statement, according to Military Times. Malachowski noted that many vets live in rural areas or work the night shift and therefore can't take advantage of public transportation.

The two companies plan on giving thousands of free rides to veterans struggling to find transportation to work, job interviews, or other critical appointments. Uber also plans on creating a feature on their app that allows customers to donate $5 towards additional rides for veterans.

According to the US Department of Housing and Development, nearly 50,000 veterans are without a place to sleep on any given night. Another 1.4 million are considered at risk of homelessness due to poverty or lack of familial structure. Veterans also face elevated rates of joblessness. The unemployment rate for returning soldiers is 7.2 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That's 1.7 percent higher than the US average at 5.5 percent.

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