Monday, March 22, 2010

Helping Wounded Warriors

Last week, I went to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC with staff from TSA’s Office of Security Operations who work on screening procedures and officer training. Prosthetics have come a long way, and Walter Reed is on the forefront of providing severely wounded service men and women with state of the art prosthetics and first class treatment and rehabilitation protocols.

As we’ve said before, about a quarter of TSA’s frontline workforce are veterans. We know that our troops deserve respect when they come through the checkpoints, and we do our best to give them the honor they deserve. We work with the Wounded Warrior Project to help severely injured veterans who have been injured with assistance to get them through the checkpoint smoothly. But sadly, we also know that some have tried to exploit our respect for those in the armed forces by impersonating them and trying to sneak bad things through. Unfortunate, but true.

As you can imagine, soldiers with shrapnel in their bodies and prosthetic limbs set off metal detectors. As part of the hospital visit, the security team looked at various prosthetics and their inner workings to better understand how to write procedures for screening people with them. We also visited and spoke with some wounded soldiers about the Wounded Warrior Project, and gave them tips to make their checkpoint experience less stressful. We also talked to them and their family members about advanced imaging technology, which reduces the chance of a pat down for people with metal implants and prosthetics.

To facilitate the movement of injured veterans, TSA partners with the Department of Defense and the Wounded Warrior Project through the TSA Military Severely Injured Program. To request assistance through this program, injured service members or their designee(s) should contact TSA by telephone, email, or fax no later than 24 hours prior to flying. This will allow enough time for the TSA Military Severely Injured program to contact local TSA officials at the departing airport who will facilitate the injured service member's screening experience.

We look forward to continuing our work with the Department of Defense to identify protocols that improve how we screen people with disabilities.

TSA Blog Team