Current TSA procedures can be time-consuming at best and invasive at worst. Scrambling to take off your shoes and shove all your carry-on belongings into a few plastic bins is not a process commonly considered enjoyable. For those with disabilities or serious injuries, the process can be much more grueling and uncomfortable.
Fortunately for Wounded Warriors, starting today the TSA is initiating a new policy change to expedite airport screening. While veterans and servicemembers currently do not need to remove their shoes or boots at TSA checkpoints, this reform offers a new level of comfort and trust to those who have been severely injured in service to the United States.
The new TSA benefits include:
- Expedited screening
- Curb-to-gate service
- Wounded Warriors will not have to remove shoes, light outerwear, jackets, or hats
This policy change comes on the heels of recent news about servicemembers and veterans experiencing difficulties at security checkpoints. In one such incident, Tucson News Now reported on a Marine travelling through security who "was forced to remove his prosthetic legs and get out of his wheelchair so agents could check it for explosives."
More than 10,000 veterans serve on the ground for the TSA, comprising almost 25 percent of the TSA's workforce. The Wounded Warrior Screening program was established in 2005 to make the screening process simple and hassle-free for wounded veterans, but this policy change is a major step. "In recognition of the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform, we have revised our screening requirements to allow expedited screening for this trusted group of citizens," said John Halinski, TSA's Deputy Administrator and 25-year U.S. Marine Corps veteran.
Veterans will need to contact the Military Severely Injured Joint Services Operations Center in order to benefit from this policy change. The center can be reached via email at MSIJSOC@dhs.gov, or by phone at 1-888-262-2396. Itinerary information for the entire party will be required, and traveling companions will still receive standard screening.
For an added measure of comfort while traveling, Wounded Warriors may enroll in TSA Pre-Check™, a pre-screening initiative that allows eligible passengers to volunteer information about themselves to expedite the screening process. To be eligible for the program, an U.S. citizen must opt-in through a participating airline or enroll in a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Trusted Traveler program such as Global Entry, SENTRI, or NEXUS. Canadian citizens enrolled in NEXUS are also qualified for the program.
Current U.S. servicemembers, including Reserve and National Guard members, can use the TSA Pre-Check™ service at the following airports:
- Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall
- Charlotte Douglas International
- Denver International
- Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International
- Honolulu International
- Lambert-St. Louis International
- Ronald Reagan Washington National
- Seattle-Tacoma International
- Washington Dulles International