MEUSER INTRODUCES BIPARTISAN, BICAMERAL LEGISLATION TO EXPAND ACCESS TO TRANSPORTATION FOR DISABLED VETERANS

February 25, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON — Congressmen Dan Meuser (R-PA) and David Trone (D-MD) and Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) reintroduced the Advancing Uniform Transportation Opportunities (AUTO) for Veterans Act. This bipartisan legislation would increase access to the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Automobile Grant, which assists veterans with a service-connected disability in purchasing a vehicle.

This bill would allow veterans with a service-connected disability to receive an additional Automobile Grant for the purchase of a vehicle every ten years. The Automobile Grant is typically used in tandem with the VA Special Adaptive Equipment Grant to make necessary modifications to a vehicle such as power steering and lift equipment to accommodate a veteran’s disability. Although a veteran may access the adaptive vehicle grant multiple times, they may only receive the Automobile Grant once per lifetime. This legislation would bring parity to these two important programs.

“Veterans, especially those in rural communities, face transportation challenges that affect their quality-of-life and independence. Expanding the VA Automobile Grant program is a simple step toward improving this program for men and women who made great sacrifices serving our country,” said Congressman Meuser. “Improving access to safe and reliable transportation for disabled veterans will ensure they can maintain their independence and lead fulfilling, healthy lives. I appreciate the bipartisan support for this bill and I look forward to working with my colleagues to get it passed.”

"Providing veterans with the means for transportation and independence should be the bare minimum for those who have sacrificed and served our country,” said Congressman Trone. “As a member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee and Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, funding effective programs that improve the lives of our veterans is and will always be my top priority. I am grateful to work on this bipartisan effort with Congressman Meuser.”

“Our nation owes American veterans our deepest gratitude.  We must continue to honor that commitment to our veterans by supporting their needs, including those of disabled veterans who require adaptive modification of their vehicles long after they are discharged or retire from active duty,” said Senator Collins.  “One disabled veteran in Shirley, Maine, has had to purchase several adaptive vehicles since 1999, with each one lasting more than 250,000 miles.  He will soon need a new van that will cost him well over $50,000, which is more than he paid for his home.  The AUTO for Veterans Act is an important step in helping those who have served our nation so honorably and sacrificed so much for our freedom.  I urge all of our colleagues to join Senator Manchin and me in honoring and supporting our nation’s veterans.”

“Our Veterans have sacrificed so much to protect their fellow Americans and now it is our turn to support them after their years of selfless service. The AUTO for Veterans Act would provide our paralyzed Veterans with a new vehicle every 10 years instead of the current program which only provides one vehicle in their lifetime,” said Senator Manchin. “This commonsense legislation will be especially important for the Veterans who live in more rural states such as West Virginia and rely on personal vehicles to go about their daily lives. I’m proud to work with Senator Collins on this important bipartisan legislation and urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to help make life easier for our paralyzed and disabled Veterans.”

"PVA applauds Representatives Meuser and Trone and Senators Collins and Manchin for reintroducing the Advancing Uniform Transportation Opportunities (AUTO) for Veterans Act,” said Heather Ansley, Associated Executive Director of Government Relations for Paralyzed Veterans of America. “This bill would help veterans preserve the freedom and independence that adapted vehicles provide them, ensuring they are able to travel safely to and from work, medical appointments, and family obligations."

The average age of light vehicles in the United States in 2019 was 11.8 years, but this is often less for structurally modified vehicles. To qualify for the grant, a veteran must have one of the following service-connected disabilities:

  • Loss, or permanent loss of use, of one or both feet
  • Loss, or permanent loss of use, of one or both hands
  • Permanent vision impairment in both eyes to a certain degree
  • Severe burn injury
  • Diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)

More information on the VA’s Automobile Grant can be found here.

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