July 08, 2020

Manchin Bill To Provide Paralyzed Veterans With Vehicles

Charleston, WV – U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced the bipartisan Advancing Uniform Transportation Opportunities (AUTO) for Veterans Act which would allow for a new vehicle grant every 10 years for paralyzed Veterans. Currently, paralyzed Veterans are only able to receive an automobile grant once in their life.

“Our paralyzed Veterans live with the constant reminder of their personal sacrifices made to keep their fellow Americans safe. They fought for our freedoms and deserve support here at home,” Senator Manchin said. “I am proud to introduce the bipartisan AUTO Act with Senator Collins today to provide our paralyzed Veterans with a new vehicle grant every 10 years instead of the current program which provides one vehicle grant in their lifetime. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) mission is especially intended to care for our paralyzed and disabled Veterans, and rural Veterans who live in states like West Virginia particularly rely on personal vehicles to live their lives. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass this commonsense legislation to support these brave Veterans.”

“I would like to personally thank Senators Manchin and Collins for the introduction of the AUTO for Veterans Act of 2020. I became paralyzed on active duty in 1996 but wasn't able to purchase my first adaptive vehicle until four years later. At  the time I was totally dependent on my family for rides or public transportation which in the area where I live is quite limited. There are no words to describe the freedom and independence an adapted vehicle gives an individual like myself. The passage of this bill will help offset the enormous expense of purchasing adaptable vehicles and allow catastrophically injured veterans the independence they need and deserve,” said Lawrence "Louie" Mullins, US Army Retired from South Charleston.

“PVA is deeply grateful to Senator Collins and Senator Manchin for today’s introduction of the AUTO for Veterans Act of 2020," said David Zurfluh, U.S. Air Force Veteran and Paralyzed Veterans of America National President. "Access to an adapted vehicle is essential to the mobility and health of catastrophically disabled veterans who need a reliable means of transportation to get them to and from work, meet family obligations, and attend medical appointments. We owe the freedom adaptive vehicles provide to Veterans who were severely injured in the service of their country. PVA urges the Senate to act on this bill quickly so these veterans have means to procure safe and reliable transportation,” said Morgan D. Brown, National Legislative Director for Paralyzed Veterans of America.

The VA is currently 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 grant is often used together with the VA Special Adaptive Equipment Grants, which help Veterans purchase adaptive equipment, such as powered lifts, for an existing automobile or van to make it safe for a Veteran’s use. The average cost to replace modified vehicles ranges from $40,000 to $65,000 when the vehicle is new and $21,000 to $35,000 when the vehicle is used.

Although Veterans can receive multiple Special Adaptive Equipment Grants over the course of their lives, they are limited to a single grant to purchase a vehicle. The current limitation fails to take into account that a disabled Veteran will need more than one vehicle in his or her lifetime. According to the Department of Transportation, the average useful life of a vehicle is 11.5 years, and a vehicle that has been modified structurally tends to have a shorter useful life.