Yesterday U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) introduced the Advancing Uniform Transportation Opportunities (AUTO) for Veterans Act, bipartisan legislation that would reduce the financial burden for service-connected severely disabled veterans who require special adaptive equipment to drive a motor vehicle.
Currently, veterans with qualifying service-connected catastrophic disabilities are given one-time assistance by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in the form of a grant to assist with the purchase of a new or used automobile and necessary adaptive equipment, such as specialized pedals or switches.
Although veterans can continue to receive assistance with adapting additional vehicles, they only receive one grant to purchase a vehicle during their lifetime.
The AUTO for Veterans Act would improve the current benefit by giving veterans assistance in replacing their vehicles through a new grant every 10 years.
“PVA implores the Senate to swiftly pass the AUTO for Veterans Act.
According to the Department of Transportation, the average useful life of a vehicle is 11.5 years, and even shorter if the vehicle has been modified structurally.
It’s hard to imagine delaying action on legislation that would assist catastrophically injured veterans who fought in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and other conflicts in covering the costs of an accessible vehicle during their lifetime.,” said David Zurfluh, U.S. Air Force Veteran and Paralyzed Veterans of America National President.
Wheelchairs and other adaptive equipment can cause severe wear and tear on a vehicle. As injured veterans age and their needs change, so do the vehicles they rely upon for transportation.
The AUTO for Veterans Act will ensure that men and women who have been disabled in service to our country are able to enjoy the freedom that adaptive vehicles provide.
“PVA urges the Senate to act on this bill quickly so these veterans have the means to get to their jobs, medical appointments, and family responsibilities safely and reliably,” says Zurfluh.
“With public transportation still working to recover from the effects of the pandemic, now more than ever, veterans need access to transportation which will allow them to pursue life, liberty and happiness after honorably serving our country.”
For more information, visit www.pva.org