Today, President Barack Obama signed the bipartisan, bicameral Helping Heroes Fly Act (H.R. 1344) into law. This widely supported measure improves airport security screening processes for wounded and severely disabled service members and veterans. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02), a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, introduced the bill as her first piece of legislation in March, and led its unanimous passage fewer than two months later in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard worked closely with Senators Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), as they shepherded the bill through unanimous passage in the Senate last week.
"The President's signing of this bill today symbolizes what can be accomplished when our nation's leaders work together in the spirit of aloha in order to serve the people. Enactment of this bill ensures that our brave servicemen and women are able to return to life back home as quickly and seamlessly as possible," said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. "Having fought for this country, this trusted group of individuals has more than earned the right to go through security screening processes that are dignified, and that respect their service and sacrifices."
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, a twice-deployed veteran and member of the Hawai"i Army National Guard, introduced the legislation after hearing from advocates of members of the Armed Forces, and veterans themselves about inconsistencies in the screening of wounded warriors by the Transportation Security Administration. Some gave troubling accounts of having to remove clothing and prosthetics in view of other passengers or having to awkwardly go through screening machines without the benefit of a prosthetic leg or limb.
The Helping Heroes Fly Act:
- Expedites airport screening for our nation's severely injured or disabled heroes and makes permanent the Wounded Warrior Screening Program;
- Requires the Transportation Security Agency to train all screeners on the protocols of the program to prevent discrepancies in how wounded warriors are treated; and
- Mandates consultations between Transportation Security Agency officials and veterans advocacy organizations to ensure an efficient program.
The Helping Heroes Fly Act has been endorsed by the American Legion, Disabled Veterans of American, Paralyzed Veterans of America, the Wounded Warrior Project, and the American Federation of Government Employees.