By Marguerite Cleveland
As of August 18, 2018, 100% Disabled Veterans are now authorized to Fly Space-A under H.R. 5515 – the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act. The Veteran must have a permanent service-connected disability and have a DD Form 2765, Department of Defense/Uniformed Services Identification and Privilege Card (TAN). Veterans are only authorized to fly within the continental United States (CONUS), Alaska, Hawaii and U.S. Territories. This new benefit comes with a catch. It will be extremely difficult to use for a veteran with severe mobility issues.
Space-A travel is like a lottery ticket, you sign up and hope your number gets called. Veterans will be in the last Space Available Travel Priority of Category VI. Being in the last category means you are the last to be called for a flight. With the uncertainty of whether you will get a flight or not, many veterans may find this challenging.
For those Veterans requiring the assistance of another person to help them when traveling will find Space – A travel is not an option. Dependent family members of Veterans are not eligible to use Space-A travel. Crewman and staff at the passenger terminal can provide limited assistance but a veteran should plan to not have assistance. They can travel with those that have the status and documents to fly Space-A
The Air Mobility Command (AMC) published AMC Boarding Requirements – August 2018 which details the requirements to board and disembark AMC aircraft. There are many physical challenges to fly on a military plane. You must be able to climb ladders and move within the aircraft as well as be able to exit in the event of an emergency. If slides are used you must be able to physically stop yourself before reaching the ground without assistance. You must also be able to climb from 14 to 36 steps to board the aircraft.
So while 100% Disabled Veterans can now use Space-A travel it may be challenging for them to actually use this new “Benefit”. Do you think Veterans should be able to travel with a caregiver?
For more information contact your local Passenger Terminal for further details. Many now have Facebook pages. You can also review travel information found on the AMC Travel Website for specific details on the Space Available Travel at www.amc.af.mil/Home/AMC-Travel-Site/ .
Marguerite Cleveland is a freelance writer who specializes in human interest and travel stories. She is a military brat, a veteran and now a military spouse. Her military experience is vast as the daughter of a Navy man who served as an enlisted sailor and then Naval Officer. She served as an enlisted soldier in the reserves and on active duty, then as an Army Officer. She currently serves as a military spouse. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two sons. Visit her website www.WanderWordsWine.com
Photo Credit: © Natalie Schorr/Adobe Stock