The Journal Gazette
Sunday, December 01, 2019 1:00 am

Wounded warriors need not suffer TSA indignities

Todd Young

This holiday season, millions of Americans are preparing to travel. But some veterans with disabilities are dreading the trip because of the indignities they will endure at TSA security checkpoints.

I've proposed a solution that received unanimous support in the U.S. Senate. Now, bureaucrats in Washington are holding it up, and we must speak out.

Navigating airport security can be a stressful and frustrating experience for the most seasoned traveler, and for our brave disabled veterans, this experience can be humiliating at times.

Earlier this year, a few Hoosier veterans detailed for me the struggle that veterans with disabilities face during the airport screening process.

Imagine having to load your suitcase onto the conveyor belt with a missing limb, trying to remove items from your bag with limited eyesight or removing your prosthetic to avoid setting off the metal detector. Or worse, knowing that you will have to do all of the above and you will still set off the metal detector, earning a rigorous patdown and swabs taken to detect explosives residue on your hands or wheelchair.

After hearing the plight of these wounded warriors, I introduced with Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois, a bipartisan, common-sense solution. Under our proposal, TSA PreCheck benefits would be free for veterans with blindness or another disability.

TSA PreCheck is a government program that allows low-risk individuals access to an expedited screening process. Active-duty military personnel already get the benefit, and any citizen can pay for it if they pass the screening. In my view, veterans who have disabilities have already paid for this benefit through their service.

With momentum on our side, the bill passed the Senate and moved to the House. I had hoped this would be a clear example of Congress working together to make a positive difference in the lives of our wounded warriors.

Sadly, that was not the case. After five months and counting, the legislation continues to languish in the House over objections being raised by Washington bureaucrats in the Department of Veterans Affairs.

 What has transpired over the past five months is nothing short of outrageous – the VA opposes my legislation because they do not know the names of the disabled veterans who would be eligible for PreCheck benefits under my legislation.

You read that right: The VA is in charge of caring for veterans yet can't identify our veterans who have sacrificed the most.

Beyond concerns for the passage for my legislation, the VA's opposition highlights much deeper problems undermining its care for our veterans.

How can the VA care for our veterans, anticipate their needs, and make effective and efficient use of our tax dollars without knowing the veterans in their care?

The world of technology is rapidly evolving, yet the VA is not evolving with it. We are a month away from the year 2020. Simple IT solutions such as the VA knowing the names of veterans in their care must no longer be an obstacle.

The solutions exist to help our veterans navigate security at the airport.

It's time for VA to step up. Our veterans have more than earned it.

U.S. Sen. Todd Young is an Indiana Republican.

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