Paralyzed Veterans of America Executive Director Carl Blake released a statement in response to the House passing H.R. 3304, also known as the AUTO for Veterans Act. This revised legislation authorizes the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide an additional automobile allowance immediately to eligible veterans if 25 years have elapsed since the date they received their first automobile grant. Over time, the period would shorten to 10 years.
The AUTO for Veterans Act would also change the definition of “medical services,” to include certain vehicle modifications like van lifts, which are offered through VA’s Automobile Adaptive Equipment program. This latter provision would help ensure veterans with non-service-connected illnesses and injuries continue to receive help through the AAE program.
“Paralyzed Veterans of America’s effort to secure a second automobile allowance for eligible veterans took a big step closer to becoming law today and we greatly appreciate the bipartisan effort to move this bill forward. We thank Representatives Lizzie Fletcher, Dan Meuser, and David Trone for leading the effort to expand access to transportation for disabled veterans. PVA is especially grateful to House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Mark Takano and Ranking Member Mike Bost, who made the bill’s passage possible.”
Blake continued, “access to safe, reliable transportation is essential to the health and wellness of catastrophically disabled veterans. We now call on the Senate to pass this important legislation as quickly as possible.”
The average life of a modified vehicle is 11.5 years (or less), and costs tens of thousands of dollars to replace it. Although disabled veterans can receive multiple AAE grants over the course of their lives, they are limited to a single grant to purchase a vehicle. The current limitation fails to take into account that a disabled veteran will need more than one vehicle in his or her lifetime. The cost of a new modified vehicle today, coupled with inflation, present a tremendous financial hardship for many disabled veterans who need to replace their primary mode of transportation once it reaches the end of its useful service life.
[Source(s): Paralyzed Veterans of America, PR Newswire]