WASHINGTON, D.C. (NEXSTAR)
A new bill backed by U.S. Army Reserves veteran Sen. Tammy Duckworth would waive the TSA Precheck fee for veterans with disabilities, helping them get through airport security quicker and with less hassle.
Duckworth, D-Illinois, is a Purple Heart recipient who lost both her legs in combat in Iraq, so she personally understands the problem.
“I’ve been taken into a separate room to strip so that they can see my devices,” she recalled. “It was a full pat down every single time. And for a while, they were X-raying our limbs.”
“I got a pretty thorough pat down,” Sherman Gillums, another veteran who uses a wheelchair, described. “I was very uncomfortable. It was out in public. … It got to a point where I had to file a complaint.”
Duckworth said X-rays are no longer routine, but getting through Transportation Security Administration checks at the airport is still a hassle and it’s time to make it easier for those who have served.
“I figure if you’ve been wounded in the defense of this country, you probably should be given a little bit of a break,” she said.
TSA Precheck allows approved flyers to speed through security without waiting in line or pat downs. But it costs money: $85 for a five-year plan. Duckworth’s bill would waive the fee for about 300,000 veterans with disabilities.
“I think it’s the right thing to do,” she said. “Many of our veterans are unemployed, especially our disabled veterans, and they need a little bit of a help.”
“We want those men and women to get out of their house and see the world if that’s their desire and for the world itself to be more accommodating,” said Gillums, who’s with veteran service organization AMVETS.
A veteran of the U.S. Marines, he was paralyzed 17 years ago during a training exercise.
“In this small way, there’s a chance to show veterans that they’re appreciated,” he said. “It’s not a lot to ask to spend a little more on the people who suffered loss at the hands of defending freedom.”
Duckworth said her bill has bipartisan support. She hopes it will pass Congress by the end of the year.