January 09, 2023

Manchin, Collins' AUTO for Veterans Act Provisions Signed Into Law

Charleston, WV – Today, U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Susan Collins (R-ME) announced President Biden signed into law provisions of their bipartisan Advancing Uniform Transportation Opportunities (AUTO) for Veterans Act, which will reduce the financial burden for severely disabled Veterans who require special adaptive equipment to drive a motor vehicle. The legislation will make these Veterans eligible to receive a grant through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to assist with purchasing a new adaptive vehicle once every ten years, helping them to drive safely and maintain their independence.
“Our Veterans have made tremendous sacrifices to protect our great nation, and it is our duty to take care of them when they return home,” Senator Manchin said. “I’m pleased President Biden has signed provisions of our bipartisan AUTO for Veterans Act into law to help reduce financial pressure on disabled Veterans who require special equipment to drive motor vehicles. West Virginia is the most patriotic state in our nation and I will continue working every day to support our brave West Virginian and American Veterans who have made invaluable sacrifices to protect our country.”
“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. “Neal Williams, a disabled Veteran in Shirley, Maine, has had to purchase several adaptive vehicles since 1999, with each one lasting more than 250,000 miles. A new van costs well over $50,000, which is more than he paid for his home. Neal was the inspiration behind the AUTO for Veterans Act, and this important step will help those like Neal who have served our nation so honorably and sacrificed so much for our freedom.”
“PVA applauds Senator Collins and Senator Manchin for their efforts to pass the AUTO for Veterans Act,” said Heather Ansley, Associate Executive Director of Government Relations at Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA). “This bill will 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.”
Under previous law, the VA was authorized to provide eligible Veterans with a one-time grant of approximately $21,400 to be used to purchase a new or used automobile and necessary adaptive equipment, such as specialized pedals or switches. The average cost to replace modified vehicles ranges from $20,000 to $80,000 for new vehicle and $21,000 to $35,000 for used vehicles, and Veterans were limited to a single grant over their lifetimes to purchase a vehicle, which failed to consider that a disabled Veteran will need more than one vehicle in his or her lifetime. The Auto for Veterans Act will ensure disabled Veterans are eligible for a grant to purchase a new adaptive vehicle once per decade, which will relieve an enormous financial burden for many Veterans across the country.

Representatives Dan Meuser (R-PA) and David Trone (D-MD) introduced the House companion bill of the AUTO for Veterans Act.