WASHINGTON – The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced today that it will participate in efforts by the Department of Defense to establish and staff an operations center designed to assist injured U.S. troops and their families.
The Military Severely Injured Joint Support Operations Center, which will be available to assist service members and their families 24 hours a day, seven days a week, was officially opened on February 1, 2005 by Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Secretary of Defense. A team of six TSA liaison staff will represent the agency at the DOD center, answering questions from service personnel and their families about how to facilitate travel through the commercial aviation system. The TSA representatives are on hand to explain applicable TSA security procedures for severely injured service members and to otherwise assist our military heroes.
TSA's participation in the DOD center was precipitated by two recent instances of what TSA's top official, Rear Adm. David M. Stone, USN (Ret.), considered "insensitive treatment of injured servicemen at U.S. airport security checkpoints."
"When we became aware of the incidents where several screeners fell short of our high standards of customer service, we immediately began the search for a remedy," said Admiral Stone, Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for TSA. "We apologize to the servicemen and their families involved and take this action to serve as our pledge that the missteps will not be repeated."
"TSA is an organization dedicated to enhancing security while providing top-notch customer service," Admiral Stone continued. "We fell short of our goal in these cases, and are proud to join with the Department of Defense in operating this new center committed to serving the nation's injured troops."
The operations center, located in Northern Virginia, is staffed by caseworkers (registered nurses with disability experience), service representatives, and members from each of the ten working groups that support the center. Each working group covers a specific area of need from financial assistance to employment, each working to organize resources and help connect the families and severely injured service members with those resources. State and local governments will also be involved with the center, as will non-profit organizations and major corporations.
"We are confident that our efforts to establish the Military Severely Injured Joint Support Operations Center will enhance our customer service record and assist TSA in understanding the special needs of injured service personnel," said Admiral Stone.