Nonprofit launches free veteran transportation service in Jacksonville

Florida-based organization wants to take service nationwide

By Lena Pringle - Reporter/Anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Veterans are getting a new way to travel around Jacksonville.

Florida-based nonprofit Invest in America's Veterans Foundation teamed up with One Call, a transportation service, to give veterans free transportation to and from their necessary appointments. 

The organizations launched the pilot program Thursday through an event commemorating the 75th anniversary of D-Day. 

Veterans will be able to call a number or use an app to request a ride.

Veteran Ralph Santillo, 79, the founder of the Invest in America's Veterans nonprofit, said housing and transportation are the biggest issues veterans face. 

Santillo said programs like these are necessities for veterans. 

"When you have nowhere to go and no one to talk to who understands what you just came back from, you're lost," Santillo said. "And we found if we don't get a new veteran that's coming back from these new conflicts -- if we don't get a handle on them within six months and be able to help them or direct them in some way, they're lost. They're the ones that are under a bridge or in a tent or actually looking for help that they can't find."

Veterans wishing to use the transportation service can call 904-686-6151.

"It's going to be an ongoing program. We've got military people that have been serving since 2001 in terrible conditions," Santillo said. "And they come back and they really need help. So, for the next 30 or 40 years, the country has to get together and say, 'How do we help these men and women who have sacrificed every day for years?'"

The transportation program is starting off in Jacksonville, but the organization plans to take it nationwide.

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