Disabled military veterans soon may be entitled to speed through airport security lines at no extra cost if a bipartisan proposal filed Wednesday by veteran senators from Indiana and Illinois is enacted into law.
The Veterans Expedited TSA Screening (VETS) Safe Travel Act would permit the 70,000 amputee veterans, 100,000 paralyzed veterans and 130,000 blind veterans to enroll for free in the Transportation Security Administration's Pre-Check program.
Pre-Check passengers typically are not required to remove their shoes, laptop computers, liquids, belts or light jackets at airport security checkpoints, and generally can bypass security lines at most airports.
Enrollment requires a background check, fingerprinting and an $85 fee for a five-year membership. It's already offered free to active duty military, reserve and National Guard members.
U.S. Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., and U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., believe disabled veterans, who possibly are using prosthetics, wheelchairs or other mobility aids while traveling, should have the same benefit.
"Our wounded warriors deserve the utmost gratitude and respect," said Young, who graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1995 and served six years in the Marines.
"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."
Duckworth, who lost both of her legs in 2004 when Iraqi insurgents shot down the U.S. Army helicopter she was co-piloting, said the legislation will benefit many veterans 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," Duckworth said.
"I'm proud to join Senator Young in introducing this bipartisan legislation to make TSA Pre-Check available at no cost to these veterans and make flying and passing through airports a little easier and less intrusive."
There is no timeline for the Senate to decide whether to act on the proposal.