With the New Year came newly approved benefits for service members and disabled veterans, including Space-A access for disabled veterans.
On Aug. 13, 2018, President Donald Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2019, a $717 billion bill that will greatly enhance the U.S. military but also adds additional benefits for service members and disabled veterans.
One benefit allows “disabled veterans to fly Space-A on military aircrafts,” according to the Department of Defense.
— U.S. Army Reserve (@USArmyReserve) January 9, 2019
Florida Rep. Gus Bilirakis, also the House Veterans Affairs Committee vice chairman, introduced the legislation, according to Task & Purpose.
Bilirakis said, “Disabled veterans who have a service-connected permanent disability rated as 100 percent cannot travel on military flights unless they are military retirees. This bill would authorize veterans who have a service-connected, permanent disability rated as 100 percent to travel on Space-A at no additional cost to the Department of Defense and without aircraft modifications.”
Space-A travel would allow “veterans with a permanent and total service-connected Department of Veterans Affairs disability rating to fly on DoD-owned or -controlled aircrafts for free when extra seats are available,” he added.
When filling “space available” seats on a flight, those on “emergency leave are the top priority, and the lowest priority is retirees and disabled veterans,” Military.com reported.
This benefit is exclusively for the disabled veteran and does not include their families.
In order to be eligible, disabled veterans must have obtained their DD Form 2765 and have a Defense Department ID Card (tan).
Disabled veterans can travel on flights in the continental United States, Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and American Samoa, and they will have a travel priority of Category 6, according to the Defense Department.
Veterans who fly Space-A are permitted to have up to two pieces of baggage that weigh no more than 70 pounds each.
Pets are not permitted on Space-A unless they are registered Emotional Support Animals, and the veteran who is flying has obtained the proper paperwork in order to fly to the specified destination.
The Space-A program is run by the Air Mobility Command and offers the benefit of being able to register for flights via email, although this does not guarantee a seat.
In addition, they have a Facebook page available to look over upcoming flights and availability.
It is important to note that Space-A flights are only permitted when space is available, so they are not always timely and can require some flexibility.