Of Note


TSA Seeks to Better Serve Passengers with Disabilities


The Transportation Security Administration’s Passenger Support Specialists (PSS) program, initiated in early 2013 to identify and resolve traveler-related screening concerns quickly, assists travelers with disabilities and medical conditions who require additional assistance with security checkpoint screening.

The goal of the program is to have a PSS in the vicinity of every checkpoint to provide proactive assistance and resolve traveler-related screening concerns. More than 3,000 TSA officers nationwide have volunteered to represent TSA in this role.

Training for the PSS role, provided by TSA’s Office of Civil Rights and Liberties, is a four-hour module that includes how to assist individuals with special needs, how to communicate with passengers by listening and explaining, disability etiquette, and disability civil rights.

Travelers requiring special accommodations or concerned about checkpoint screening may ask a checkpoint officer or supervisor for a Passenger Support Specialist who will provide on-the-spot assistance. TSA specifically includes disabled veterans in the category of passengers with special circumstances.

Travelers may also request a PSS ahead of time by calling the TSA Cares hotline at 1-855-787-2227 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-11 p.m. Eastern Time, and holidays/weekends, 9 a.m.-8 p.m. TSA recommends that passengers call approximately 72 hours ahead of travel so that TSA Cares has the opportunity to coordinate checkpoint support with a TSA Customer Service Manager located at the airport.

Veteran ID Theft Subject of Campaign


VA’s Office of Information and Technology announced in early August the launch of an effort to educate veterans about identity theft prevention. The campaign, entitled “More Than a Number,” references the personally identifiable information that VA encourages veterans to protect.

“We recognize that for veterans, as well as for all Americans in the digital age, identify theft is a growing concern,” said Steph Warren, VA’s Chief Information Officer. “Our goal is to help educate and protect those who have protected this great country.”

The campaign includes a new webpage about identity theft for veterans and their beneficiaries. Located at www.va.gov/identitytheft, the site features educational information, interactive multimedia, and links to other online identity theft prevention resources.

A toll-free helpline at 1-855-578-5492, available Monday through Friday 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Eastern Time, also offers support.

VA To Review All Scheduling Practices


New VA Secretary McDonald announced on August 8 an independent, nationwide review of the methods by which VA medical facilities schedule appointments. He also announced a series of additional actions to improve veterans’ access to timely, quality health care and elaborated on these actions during his remarks at the BVA 69th National Convention.

“VA is committed to instilling integrity into our scheduling practices to deliver the timely care that veterans deserve,” said Secretary McDonald. “It is important that our scheduling practices be reviewed by a respected, independent source to help restore trust in our system, and I’m grateful to the Joint Commission for taking on this critical task.”

The Joint Commission on Health Care is the nation’s oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in the field of health.

On August 5, Secretary McDonald directed all VA health care and benefits facilities to hold town-hall events by the end of September to improve communication with, and hear directly from, veterans nationwide.

Cemetery Commemorates 150-Year Milestone


Arlington National Cemetery recognized its 150th anniversary with a first-ever evening performance in the Memorial Amphitheater on June 15 and an Armed Forces Full Honors Wreath Ceremony on June 16.

The amphitheater presentation occurred 150 years to the day of Arlington’s establishment on June 15, 1864. It included historic videos and on-stage vignettes, a live Changing of the Guard sequence and wreath ceremony, and music from the U.S. Marine Band, “The President’s Own,” and a Joint Chorus made up of singers from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps.

The final two events culminated five weeks of activities, beginning with a wreath laying on May 13 at the gravesite of Army Private William Christman, the cemetery’s first military burial. Other events included a history lecture, a special ceremony to rename “The Old Amphitheater” the “James Tanner Amphitheater,” and ten guided tours. These tours highlighted the military conflicts and historic individuals buried at Arlington and who have shaped the history of the cemetery and the nation.

Once created out of necessity during the American Civil War, Arlington National Cemetery is a national shrine for hundreds of thousands of active duty military members, veterans, and their families who have served during times of war and times of peace. Because American heroes from every conflict from the Revolutionary War to the conflicts of the 21st century are buried there, the cemetery is a volume of military history to those who visit.

BVA and dozens of other Veterans Service Organizations lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns immediately behind the Memorial Amphitheater each Memorial Day and Veterans Day.