Space-A travel for disabled Veterans? This military spouse says it’s a ‘no-brainer.’

Matt Saintsing
July 17, 2018 - 11:52 am

Photo Courtesy of Lanna Britt

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Lanna Britt is on a mission to extend a benefit—one that’s currently offered to military retirees—to veterans like her husband who have a 100 percent disability rating: free Space-A travel. 

Under the Space-Available, or Space-A, program, retirees can travel aboard military planes as long as there’s room. It’s quite common for retirees to take them to Japan, Germany, and other popular vacation spots around the world, but they are the only veterans permitted to take advantage of this perk.

That’s what Britt wants to change. 

Photo Courtesy of Lanna Britt

“It’s an awesome benefit because it’s affordable travel and the flight is already going, so it doesn’t cost the taxpayers any extra money,” she says, adding that is a “no-brainer” to extend this benefit to 100 percent disabled veterans, like her husband, Tim. 

Tim, a former Army MP, was injured in Iraq in 2006 a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED), also known as a car bomb, exploded near his convoy. He was driving the trail vehicle through the Green Zone, a 10 square kilometer stretch of Central Baghdad, when they stopped at a checkpoint. That's when a Chevy Suburban with 150-pounds of explosives came barreling through a concrete barrier and exploded, killing 26 Iraqis. No Americans were killed.

Despite being cleared by medics at the time,and returning to duty after just one week, Tim lives with multiple wounds of war, both the invisible and plainly seen. Tim has hearing loss, post-traumatic stress (PTS), and paralysis of his sciatic nerve, the largest in the human body that runs from each side of the lower spine through the buttocks and into the back of the thigh. He also had nose surgery as his face slammed into the steering column when the Suburban exploded. 

After years of filing claims, Tim finally received his VA disability rating of 100 percent last year. 

Photo Courtesy of Lanna Britt

Britt says traveling isn’t exactly a breeze, but for her husband, it’s unimaginable. 

“Long, crowded flights aren’t easy for anyone, but they can be a nightmare for 100 percent disabled veterans, depending on their injuries,” she adds. 

She says the ability to fly Space-A would allow Tim to more easily travel and live life more fully. Military travel surely comes with its own headaches, but Britt stresses that the benefits far outweigh any inconveniences. 

And she’s not the only one who wants to extend this benefit to veterans like Tim. There’s a bipartisan effort in Congress to do just that: The Disabled Veterans Access to Space-A Travel Act.

“This legislation ensures that those who have returned home and sacrificed the most have access to space-available travel – a quality benefit that truly shows how thankful America is for their sacrifice,” said Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV), who helped introduce the bill. 

"Taking this step forward will improve the quality of life for these American heroes and help fulfill this country’s obligation to properly honor their service,” added Sen Jon Tester (D-Mont.), the ranking member on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. 

And there’s companion legislation in the House. 

Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.) said that “while active duty members and their families will remain the primary beneficiaries of this program, our bill will extend this benefit to our (100 percent VA rated) disabled veterans.”

Britt’s been emailing and calling members of Congress, monthly and says the bill “is getting traction” as more co-sponsors attach their name to it. It already has 81 co-sponsors in the House and is truly bipartisan with 41 Republicans and 40 Democrats, but has yet to make it out of committee in either chamber. 

“This bill isn’t a ‘Red state’ or ‘Blue state’ issue, it’s a red, white, and blue issue,” she says. “100 percent disabled veterans live with daily pain and stress, and this is just one way we can show our appreciation at no extra cost to taxpayers, it’s a no-brainer.” 

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