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Disabled Veterans Picked Up A Major Travel Benefit In The Latest Defense Bill
Buried in the $717 billion National Defense Authorization Act is a fantastic measure for disabled veterans: easier access to military flights as an escape from the horror of commercial air travel.
Under the Disabled Veterans Access to Space-A Travel Act, veterans with a service-connected, permanent disability rating of 100% can hop on any scheduled or unscheduled military flight within the continental United States operated by Air Mobility Command "as such transportation is provided to members of the armed forces entitled to retired or retainer pay."
The legislation was introduced by House Veterans Affairs Committee vice chairman and Florida Rep. Gus Bilirakis way back in 2016 and eventually merged with the fiscal 2019 NDAA that President Donald Trump signed into law on Monday.
“Disabled veterans who have a service-connected permanent disability rated as 100 percent cannot travel on military flights unless they are military retirees,” Bilirakis’ office said of the legislation at the time, according to Sunshine State News. “This bill would authorize veterans who have a service-connected, permanent disability rated as 100 percent to travel on Space-A at no additional cost to the Department of Defense and without aircraft modifications.”
According to Connective Vets, the push for the expansion of Space-A travel found a public advocate from Lanna Britt, a military spouse whose husband Tim, an Army MP, was injured when vehicle-borne improvised explosive device targeted his convoy in central Baghdad. His injuries, which earned him a 100% disability rating, made traveling near-impossible, according to Lanna.
“Long, crowded flights aren’t easy for anyone, but they can be a nightmare for 100 percent disabled veterans, depending on their injuries,” Lanna Britt told ConnectingVets in July. “100 percent disabled veterans live with daily pain and stress, and this is just one way we can show our appreciation at no extra cost to taxpayers, it’s a no-brainer.”
According to data from the Government Accountability Office, 77.3% of space-available seats in 2011 were occupied by just 2.3% of the 8.4 million individuals eligible for the program.
“The Space-Available Travel program is a benefit rightfully extended to all military retirees, yet it excludes those who are 100 percent disabled,” Bilirakis told Sunshine State News on Monday. “The brave men and women who served our country, and returned home injured, have already paid a big price on our behalf. If there is space available for travel on a military aircraft, there is no reason our 100 percent disabled veterans shouldn’t be on that flight."
The Department of Veterans Affairs released an alarming report Friday showing that at least 60,000 veterans died by suicide between 2008 and 2017, with little sign that the crisis is abating despite suicide prevention being the VA's top priority.
Although the total population of veterans declined by 18% during that span of years, more than 6,000 veterans died by suicide annually, according to the VA's 2019 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump said on Sunday that he discussed Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden and his son in a call with Ukraine's president.
Trump's statement to reporters about his July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky came as the Democratic leader of a key congressional panel said the pursuit of Trump's impeachment may be the "only remedy" to the situation.
The USS Eagle 56 was only five miles off the coast of Maine when it exploded.
The World War I-era patrol boat split in half, then slipped beneath the surface of the North Atlantic. The Eagle 56 had been carrying a crew of 62. Rescuers pulled 13 survivors from the water that day. It was April 23, 1945, just two weeks before the surrender of Nazi Germany.
The U.S. Navy classified the disaster as an accident, attributing the sinking to a blast in the boiler room. In 2001, that ruling was changed to reflect the sinking as a deliberate act of war, perpetuated by German submarine U-853, a u-boat belonging to Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine.
Still, despite the Navy's effort to clarify the circumstances surrounding the sinking, the Eagle 56 lingered as a mystery. The ship had sunk relatively close to shore, but efforts to locate the wreck were futile for decades. No one could find the Eagle 56, a small patrol ship that had come so close to making it back home.
Then, a group of friends and amateur divers decided to try to find the wreck in 2014. After years of fruitless dives and intensive research, New England-based Nomad Exploration Team successfully located the Eagle 56 in June 2018.
Business Insider spoke to two crew members — meat truck driver Jeff Goodreau and Massachusetts Department of Corrections officer Donald Ferrara — about their discovery.
These CIA officers were the first US boots on the ground in Afghanistan after 9/11 — and one was 'Marine Todd'
Before the 5th Special Forces Group's Operational Detachment Alpha 595, before 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment's MH-47E Chinooks, and before the Air Force combat controllers, there were a handful of CIA officers and a buttload of cash.
The last time the world saw Marine veteran Austin Tice, he had been taken prisoner by armed men. It was unclear whether his captors were jihadists or allies of Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad who were disguised as Islamic radicals.
Blindfolded and nearly out of breath, Tice spoke in Arabic before breaking into English:"Oh Jesus. Oh Jesus."
That was from a video posted on YouTube on Sept. 26, 2012, several weeks after Tice went missing near Damascus, Syria, while working as a freelance journalist for McClatchy and the Washington Post.
Now that Tice has been held in captivity for more than seven years, reporters who have regular access to President Donald Trump need to start asking him how he is going to bring Tice home.