June 20, 2019

Duckworth, Young Introduce Bill to Provide TSA PreCheck to Disabled Veterans


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] — U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Todd Young (R-IN) today announced bipartisan legislation to make air travel easier for Veterans with disabilities by providing them with TSA PreCheck at no cost. TSA PreCheck is already available to active duty, reserve and National Guard servicemembers at no cost. The Veterans Expedited TSA Screening (VETS) Safe Travel Act would expand this program to include Veterans who are amputees, paralyzed, or blind since passing through airport security with prosthetics, wheelchairs, or other mobility aids presents a challenge.

“Millions of Veterans have sacrificed a great deal in service to our nation and returned home with service-connected disabilities. For those of us who rely on prosthetics and wheelchairs for mobility, air travel and passing through airport security can be a challenge,” said Senator Duckworth. “I’m proud to join Senator Young in introducing this bipartisan legislation to make TSA PreCheck available at no cost to these Veterans and make flying and passing through airports a little easier and less intrusive.”

“Our wounded warriors deserve the utmost gratitude and respect. This legislation is one way we can help improve the lives of veterans, like my colleague Senator Duckworth, who selflessly put themselves in harm’s way to serve our nation,” said Senator Young.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), there are nearly 70,000 Veterans who have had their limbs amputated and there are approximately 130,000 blind Veterans in the United States. According to the Paralyzed Veterans of America, there are 100,000 paralyzed Veterans in the United States. Under the VETS Safe Travel Act, VA would be required to certify that these Veterans are eligible. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) would then process those Veteran’s applications, granting access to TSA PreCheck at no cost provided they successfully pass the background check and interview process. Additionally, TSA advises that these veterans use TSA PreCheck in conjunction with calling the TSA Cares hotline 72-hours prior to departure to ensure expedited screening.

The legislation is supported by the Wounded Warrior Project, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Honor Flight Network, Disabled American Veterans, and the American Legion.

Duckworth has been a strong proponent of initiatives to make it easier for people with disabilities to travel. As a result of a law she authored, the U.S. Department of Transportation has begun to release data for the first time that reveals how many wheelchairs and motorized scooters airlines damage each month, shining a light on a serious challenge that many travelers with wheelchairs face when they fly.

What they are saying about the VETS Safe Travel Act:

“The Veterans Expedited TSA Screening Safe Travel Act will provide many severely injured and disabled veterans a more dignified experience when passing through security checkpoints at our nation’s airports,” said Lt. Gen. (ret.) Mike Linnington, CEO of Wounded Warrior Project. “On the behalf of the millions of American veterans whose lives we aim to improve, we thank Senators Todd Young and Tammy Duckworth for their concern and leadership on this important issue, and for their great fidelity to our nation’s veterans.”

“The members of Paralyzed Veterans of America routinely encounter barriers when traveling by air,” said Shaun Castle, deputy executive director for Paralyzed Veterans of America. “The ability for our members to access the expedited screening process available through TSA PreCheck without cost will help to alleviate one of their pain points in the air travel process. We are pleased to support the VETS Safe Travel Act and look forward to its swift passage.”

“An expedited TSA screening process is invaluable in transporting the approximately 25,000 veterans the Honor Flight Network sends annually through our national airports to Washington D.C. Based on our positive history with the expedited screening process, the Honor Flight Network is in full support of this bill,” said Meredith Rosenbeck, CEO, Honor Flight Network.

“Airport security can be an extraordinary challenge for seriously disabled people using prosthetics or mobility devices, as many of our members have attested over the years. DAV enthusiastically supports the bipartisan-supported VETS Safe Travel Act to help make air travel easier and less stressful for severely injured veterans, and we thank Senators Young and Duckworth for their continued commitment to the well-being of the men and women who served,” said Disabled American Veterans National Commander Dennis Nixon.