Mission Statement: Project Patriot’s core mission is to advocate for legislation that will allow Equal Access to the Space Available Program for all Service-Connected Disabled American Veterans with a Permanent Disability Rated as Total to travel on military aircraft in the same manner and to the same extent as retired members of the Armed Forces entitled to such travel.
Mission (Almost) Accomplished!
August 13, 2018 – With the signing of the 2019 NDAA at Ft. Drum, disabled veterans picked up a major travel benefit. Buried in the folds of the $717 billion dollar legislation is a little known hidden gem called the, “Disabled Veterans Access to Space-A Travel Act.” The original legislation was introduced by Congressman Gus Bilirakis of Florida and Senator Dean Heller of Nevada.
This legislation (H.R. 5515, Sec. 624) authorizes Space-Available Travel on DoD Aircraft for Veterans With a Service-Connected, Permanent Disability Rated as Total, to now travel on military aircraft effective 13 Aug 18.
According to HQ/AMC Passenger Travel Policy Office, spouses of a Veteran with a disability rating of 100% are not allowed to travel on military aircraft that is operated by the DoD at this time. They can be reached at (618) 229-4593 for more information.
Currently, there is a disconnect between the original intent of this legislation and the Department of Defense, as the bill advanced out of the conference committee and was forwarded to the President for signing, it was missing a critical sentence: “To travel on military aircraft in the same manner and to the same extent as retired members of the Armed Forces entitled to such travel.” Due to the absence of this one sentence, the following is the consequence:
- Disabled veterans are not allowed to fly OCONUS, and;
- Spouses may not fly with their sponsors (“How many disabled veterans will be willing to fly without their spouse?”) This is a critical misstep by Congress and as of August 13, 2018, authorized destinations for disabled veterans are:
- Puerto Rico
- American Samoa
- Virgin Islands
Note: This legislation is still a big win for the disabled veteran community and a small step in the right direction. To be clear, Project Patriot will continue their efforts working with Congress to correct these two deficiencies in timely manner.
Did you know…the staff at Project Patriot have been working on this type of legislation since 2012. In February 2018, a germ of an idea sprouted from two Navy veterans and Project Patriot became a reality! Veterans from Florida and Nevada have greatly contributed to the success of this legislation and in overcoming obstacles through the following communication channels with Congress:
- Phone Calls
- Press Releases
Stay tuned to the Project Patriot website for updates that will be available in the official monthly newsletter: The Patriot Post.