Pryor introduces bill to make airport screenings easier for vets - KATV - Breaking News, Weather and Razorback Sports

Pryor introduces bill to make airport screenings easier for veterans

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WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR) introduced a bill this week meant to help make the airport screening process easier for wounded and severely disabled veterans and service members.

The "Helping Our Heroes Fly Act," a bipartisan bill co-sponsored by Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), is a partner bill to a measure that unanimously passed the U.S. House in May.

"For our wounded warriors, the airport screening process can be lengthy, invasive, embarrassing, and sometimes painful," Pryor said. "Our bipartisan bill will help ease this process and ensure our nation's heroes are treated with dignity and respect."

In response to concerns raised by wounded warriors about the length and invasiveness of the airport security process, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) created the Wounded Warrior/Military Severely Injured Joint Services Operation Center Program (MSIJSOC). Through this program, severely injured or disabled service members, veterans, and family members can contact the program's Operation Center at TSA before a flight to arrange for a specialized and dignified screening process.

According to the TSA, the number of wounded warriors using the MSIJSOC program is steadily increasing, with approximately 4,252 in 2011 and 5,914 in 2012. The Helping Heroes Fly Act would build on this success by requiring the TSA to maintain the Operations Center. It would also make improvements to the program by requiring the TSA to take into account privacy preferences, provide training to all screeners, and improve communications with advocacy organizations. Finally, it would mandate that TSA report to Congress on its progress in implementing the screening program.