by Harvey Porter
The 2019 National Defense Authorization Act allows veterans with a permanent and total service-connected Department of Veterans Affairs disability rating to travel space available on military aircraft. Authorized disabled veterans can travel in the continental United States (CONUS) or directly between CONUS and Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa.
The DoD, Congress, and the Veterans Affairs Committee should amend the bill to allow full worldwide travel eligibility for 100% Disabled Veterans on military space-available flights to all destinations.
This means travel eligibility in the same manner as granted to retired military personnel: To all destinations, military flights go. The original bill submitted was written and intended as such.
Disabled Military Veterans have come a long way and achieved progress. However unfortunately discrepancies are still apparent.
The amendment would allow for the full privilege of travel worldwide and be of no additional cost to the DoD. The U.S. government should grant the full privilege of worldwide travel on Space-A flights to this small group of Veterans.
I genuinely believe that, for 100% Disabled Veterans, expanding the travel program to worldwide eligibility would enhance and improve the morale, spirit, and quality of life for these Veterans. I speak for many of us who are permanently 100% disabled and a part of various Veteran support groups. Being eligible to travel worldwide on military Space-A flights would help some Veterans heal and recover somewhat. In addition to improving their quality of life. So many are suffering from the invisible injuries of PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Military Sexual Trauma.
Many in this group of select Veterans have borne the scars of wars, conflicts, and everyday military life. Many are on a limited fixed income in which they cannot afford the prices of airfare to most places. Space-A flights go throughout the world. So now let us think about what happens to the service member when they are no longer able to return to duty and many are unable to ever obtain gainful employment again in their life because of their injuries.
The sacrifices the men and women have made should never go unnoticed. I have never met a 100% disabled Veteran, including myself, that was happy to have that title or rating. However, I served my country honorably and do not regret it one bit. The men and women who served our country, and returned home injured, have already paid a heavy price on our behalf.
If there is any space available for travel on a military aircraft to worldwide locations, there is no logical reason why our 100 percent disabled veterans should not be eligible to be on those flights.
Harvey is an Air Force Veteran of 8 years. He is a lifetime member of the Disabled Veterans Association, an American Legion Member, as well as a member of various Veterans, support groups locally and nationally. He lives in Fairfield California.