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U.S. House of Representatives Approves Bilirakis Defense Amendments

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

The U.S. House of Representatives passed two amendments sponsored by Congressman Gus M. Bilirakis (R-FL) to H.R. 1960, the National Defense Authorization Act.

The first amendment would allow disabled veterans with a service-connected permanent disability rated as total to utilize Space-Available travel on Department of Defense (DOD) aircraft at no-cost. The Space-Available program is a DOD program, which allows active duty service members, their families, retirees and certain others to fill empty seats on DOD flights. While active duty members and their families will remain the primary beneficiaries of this program, Congressman Bilirakis' amendment will allow these veterans this same benefit.

"Our disabled veterans have bravely served this country and have made enormous sacrifices that will impact the rest of their lives," said Bilirakis. "Enabling them to travel through the Space-A program is just one way we can show our appreciation and assist them with the day-to-day rigors that come with living with a disability."

The second amendment authorizes the Secretary of the Navy to designate a memorial to honor the members of our Armed Forces who have served the United States as military divers. The amendment explicitly states that the memorial is to be paid with private funds and provides the Secretary of the Navy with all authority to approve the design and site of the memorial. It builds upon the sense of Congress expressed in Section 2855 of the FY13 National Defense Authorization Act, which states the Secretary of the Navy may permit the building of such a memorial.

"Our nation's heroes should be honored for their service to this country," said Bilirakis. "By authorizing this memorial at the former Navy Dive School at the Washington Navy Yard, we are paying tribute to those who defended our nation from beneath the waters of the world."

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