Congressman’s Legislation Receives Support from Prominent Veterans Service Organizations at Congressional Hearing
Brindisi: I Am Proud To Champion This Legislation To Expand VA Automobile Grants and Fight for Our Veterans
Congressmen Anthony Brindisi (NY-22) and Dan Meuser (PA-9), members of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, today introduced H.R. 5761, the Advancing Uniform Transportation Opportunities for Veterans (AUTO) Act. This bipartisan legislation would increase access to the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Automobile Grant, which is used by our nation’s most severely disabled veterans—often amputees or paralyzed—to purchase a vehicle.
“I am proud to champion this legislation to expand the VA’s Automobile Grant Program so we can further support these Veterans who have sacrificed so much for our county,” said Brindisi. “This bipartisan bill will help these Veterans continue to go to work, attend school, visit family, and maintain a life of mobility. I will continue to work to ensure that the men and women who bravely fought for our freedoms receive the support they have earned.”
“Veterans, especially those in rural communities, face transportation challenges. Expanding the VA’s Automobile Grant is a meaningful step for the men and women who made great sacrifices in service to our nation,” said Meuser. “We must do all we can to help ensure these veterans with catastrophic injuries can lead fulfilling lives. Access to safe, reliable transportation is essential to their health and wellness.”
This bill would help lessen a financial burden and expand access to transportation for disabled veterans by allowing qualifying veterans to receive a second Automobile Grant, ten years after receiving their first grant. Currently, veterans are only able to receive the grant once-per-lifetime. In fiscal year 2020, an estimated 2,425 veterans will use this benefit, which is valued at $21,488 per grant.
This grant is regularly used in tandem with the Special Adaptive Equipment Grants, which allow veterans to make necessary modifications to their vehicle, such as power steering and lift equipment, to accommodate their disability. Although veterans can only receive a one-time allowance toward the purchase of a vehicle, they can access adaptive-equipment grants multiple times. This legislation would help bring parity to these two important programs.
At a House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs subcommittee hearing today, Brindisi questioned Veterans Service Organizations about the importance of this legislation. The bill received support from the American Legion, the Paralyzed Veterans of America, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Additionally, local Veterans praised Brindisi’s efforts.
“The VA’s Automobile Grant is an extremely important program that provides eligible veterans with the opportunity to regain some of their independence and mobility within the community where they live,” said Ron Raymer, Navy Veteran and Director of the Madison County Veterans Service Agency. “The nature of the eligible veteran’s disabilities which typically involves amputations and paralysis can leave a veteran with a lack of independence, mobility and self-reliance which can have a devastatingly negative impact on their overall quality of life leading to isolation, depression and having to rely on others for transportation; additionally many of these eligible veterans are on fixed incomes and cannot often afford the costs associated with the necessary adaptive changes and/or an accommodating vehicle. With the VA’s automobile grant and the various adaptive equipment options available, the eligible veteran can regain a considerable portion of their independence and self-reliance in a variety of ways which can significantly increase their quality of life, overall health and general well-being.”
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.