Disabled and wounded veterans in the US can enjoy free air travel by leveraging Space Available Travel (Space-A). Congress passed the John S. McCain National-Defense Authorization Act in 2018 to provide help for veterans who were injured while serving. Also known as military hops, the Space-A program allows wounded veterans to take advantage of available flight seats without incurring any costs.
How Space-A Help for Veterans Works
The AMC (Air Mobility Command) maintains an extensive network of flights available across the US. Wounded veterans can find flights throughout the continental US, Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, and the Virgin Islands. Various Air National Guard and Naval Aviation Units supplement the Space-A network, offering free flights to eligible veterans. To qualify for a free flight, the veteran must meet the following conditions:
● Have a permanent disability rating stemming from total service-connected events. The free flights are available for vets with provable injuries and disabilities suffered during their time in the military.
● Obtain the Department of Defense/Uniformed Services Identification and Privilege Card (DD Form 2765). The tan-colored military ID card identifies specific categories of retired and active members of the armed forces.
Veterans who meet these conditions can check available Department of Defense flights at AMC passenger terminals on military bases and commercial airports. The terminals post flight schedules and seat availability on their respective Facebook pages. Wounded veterans can select a flight and destination and then register in person at the AMC terminal or by email or fax. Once a flight and seat are booked, the vet can travel across the country free of charge.
Space-A only offers free flights for wounded and disabled veterans and retirees. The vets and retirees fall under Group 6 priority. As such, active service members on emergency leaves or post-deployment respite will have priority. If there’s a scheduling change or sudden seat unavailability, the vet will need a contingency plan, such as commercial airfare. Dependents of the wounded vet aren’t eligible for Space-A travel.
Does Space-A Cover Vet Families and Loved Ones?
Space-A travel help is for veterans only, so the program doesn’t cover family members and loved ones. However, many other companies have stepped in to provide emergency travel planning and airplane tickets for vet families. Such organizations aim to fill the gap left by Space-A to support the families of wounded, ill, and injured veterans. The travel help may also cover the families of active service members or fallen officers.
Vet families can use the free airplane tickets to cover the back and forth traveling when caring for their wounded heroes. Such programs connect injured veterans with their loved ones, offering complimentary airfare during the recovery and rehabilitation journey. Organizations providing free flights to vet families accept flight miles donated by people who travel regularly. The miles are used to cover travel costs, allowing families and loved ones of veterans to fly for free.
US citizens can also donate to the organization to facilitate free travel across commercial airplanes. Most companies offering flight support feature unique programs for different situations. Some aid families and loved ones to visit their heroes and be beside them during their final moments. Others focus on families of veterans recovering from their combat injuries. Each program has specific eligibility requirements.
Where to Get Help for Veterans and Their Families
A few organizations and programs offer travel help for families of wounded veterans and service members. Most programs are designed for specific veterans. The offer may be for those who served in World War II, The Vietnam War, The Korean War, and The Gulf War. Some initiatives target injured and ill vets. Others offer support to families looking to spend time with their loved veterans on their last days.
Most organizations offering free/discounted travel support for veterans operate as a B2B through corporations with sponsors and B2C through donors. Families of wounded veterans can find opportunities to travel for free or at a discount through such non-profit organizations. Combined with the Space-A government program, the independent organizations ensure adequate help for veterans and their families in times of need.