MIAMI, Fla. — February 18, 2014 — Today Miami-Dade Transit issued a Patriot Passport to Raymond Rivera. The Patriot Passport allows low-income veterans who reside in Miami-Dade County to ride buses and the Metrorail free of charge.
Mr. Rivera was previously denied the Patriot Passport because he could not produce a DD Form 214 indicating that he received a final Honorable discharge from military service. Legal Services of Greater Miami, Inc. (LSGMI) then filed suit on behalf of Mr. Rivera seeking a declaratory judgment that he was eligible for the pass, and an injunction requiring Transit to issue him a Patriot Passport.
After the lawsuit was filed, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Esteban Bovo introduced legislation to amend the ordinance which created the Patriot Passport program. The legislation was co-sponsored by Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz. Under the amended ordinance, the eligibility requirements for the Patriot Passport program were expanded to include veterans who received other than a Dishonorable Discharge. The amended ordinance was passed by the County Commission on February 4, 2014, and took effect on February 14, 2014.
The newly expanded eligibility requirement ensures that low-income veterans who receive health services from the Department of Veterans Affairs can access public transportation to utilize those services. A lack of transportation is consistently cited by those who work with low-income veterans as a barrier to veterans receiving healthcare, substance abuse treatment, and mental health treatment.
“Just as it did when it created the Patriot Passport program, the County Commission has taken a positive step towards ensuring that our community’s veterans are able to access the services that they earned through their military service,” said Liam McGivern, the LSGMI attorney who represented Mr. Rivera.
LSGMI is the largest provider of broad based civil legal services for the poor in Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties. LSGMI has made veteran advocacy one of its top priorities. Through its veteran advocacy, LSGMI assists low-income veterans in discharge upgrade and veteran benefits cases, and in the areas of housing, government benefits, special education, and tax.
For further information, please contact Liam McGivern at 305-438-2423.