New Law Eases Airport Screening for Troops, Families

 
Photo: Transportation Security Administration Officer Desiree Kalin demonstrates to Spc. Victoria Grudzinski and Spc. Michael Rhoades, 229th Military Intelligence Battalion, the proposed pre-screening procedures for air travel of service members using their military identification.

A bill signed into law by the president Jan. 3 means soldiers in uniform and their families may soon have an easier time moving through security screening lines at the airport.

The "Risk-Based Security Screening for Members of the Armed Forces Act" calls for development of a plan that will provide "expedited security screening services for a member of the armed forces, and, to the extent possible, any accompanying family member."

Included in that law are instructions to consider establishing standards for screening of military uniform items, including combat boots.

Only service members on orders and in uniform will be granted access to any expedited security screening procedures that have been developed, officials said.

The new law calls for changes to be implemented within six months.

Transportation Security Administration officials say the agency is now "in consultation with DOD," and "is reviewing options for implementing procedures that will adhere to the new law."

Already, the TSA had policies in place that help expedite the movement of uniformed service members though the security screening process. Soldiers with proper identification are not required to remove their boots or shoes unless the footwear sets off screening equipment.

Families of service members can obtain gate passes to go with service members to their departure gates to see them off, or to be standing at arrival gates when they get off the plane.

Additionally, the TSA has worked with DOD to make it easier for injured service members to negotiate the screening process. The Military Severely Injured Joint Services Operations Center Program ensures that any screening is "conducted by TSA screening experts with empathy and respect in order to make the overall experience for the service member as expeditious and pleasant as possible."

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