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Meuser supporting bill to assist disabled veterans in purchasing a vehicle
Times Leader - 2/27/2021
Feb. 26—WILKES-BARRE — U.S. Rep. Dan Meuser is supporting bipartisan legislation that would increase access to the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) Automobile Grant, which assists veterans with a service-connected disability in purchasing a vehicle.
Meuser, R-Dallas, and Rep. David Trone (D-MD) and Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) this week re-introduced the Advancing Uniform Transportation Opportunities (AUTO) for Veterans Act.
This bill would allow veterans with a service-connected disability to receive an additional Automobile Grant for the purchase of a vehicle every 10 years.
According to Meuser, 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. Meuser said 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," Meuser said. "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. Improving access to safe and reliable transportation for disabled veterans will ensure they can maintain their independence and lead fulfilling, healthy lives."
Trone said providing veterans with the means for transportation and independence should be the bare minimum for those who have sacrificed and served our country.
"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," Trone said.
Collins said the 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," Collins said.
Manchin added that 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. He said the AUTO for Veterans Act would provide paralyzed veterans with a new vehicle every 10 years instead of the current program which only provides one vehicle in their lifetime.
"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," Manchin said.
Heather Ansley, Associated Executive Director of Government Relations for Paralyzed Veterans of America said 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.
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).
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