Star Metro new program offers free rides for Vets

Tallahassee’s StarMetro is giving back to those who have served in battle.

Tallahassee’s city commission has approved a year’s pilot program to aid veterans, low income and homeless, in need of transportation. Using a smart card, Veterans with less than a $17,505 a year and veterans receiving disability are eligible to apply for a smartcard providing endless rides at no charge on any StarMetro route.

“Veterans who apply have to be registered with the Veterans Clinic,” StarMetro Marketing Coordinator Lavonia Jones said. “Once they bring their paperwork to us we will issue them with a card providing free rides for the length of their registration.”

World War II veteran, Jim David, has visited several clinics in the past 5 years stemming from an injury he endured during battle years ago.

“I’m not able to drive at the time because of pain in my leg so the bus is all I have sometimes,” David said. “I’m in the process of applying for the program and hope to receive my card soon.”

U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs receptionist Toni Pugh feels the program will help veterans who cannot afford steady transportation get to their clinic appointments.

“Many veterans have a hard time getting around especially if they are disabled,” Pugh said. “We have a bus stop right outside the center so it’s an easy access.”

According to Sciencedaily, many soldiers battle mental health conditions such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression long after they return from combat. Many have also experienced physical injuries that that have had long lasting effects, providing difficulties when trying to acquire a job or hindering day to day functions such as driving a motor vehicle.

The program will run for a year before city commissioners’ vote on whether or not it will become a permanent benefit.