Passengers Seated on an Airplane

Traveling to the National Veterans Wheelchair Games

I am a 13-year veteran of the Gulf War, United States Air Force. I have traveled by air to many of our states and I found that the means of getting a paralyzed veteran on and off the plane are extremely difficult. There is an upright chair that they have to use to transport a paralyzed veteran through a very narrow opening in the walkway. The degrading way that we have to set and wait for everybody else to leave the plane before we can transfer to an upright chair to be forced down the center aisle snagging clothing and limbs on chairs as we pass is unbelievably demeaning. I have had to endure this repeatedly throughout my air travels. I hope that this gets to the right people that will help Paralyzed Veterans as well as civilians with disabilities be treated with more respect and honor.

I ask for a seat close to the front so that I can be loaded first and removed first; therefore, we are not having to wait for everybody else to disembark or wait for the ground crew to bring an upright chair to roll us down the center aisle and go through snagging our limbs as well as clothing on the seat arms and seat backs. I believe that there are ways to remedy the problems and one of them is having designated seating for handicapped individuals so they can be loaded first and disembark first.

The staff and crew aboard the flights have been more than genuinely respectful and very honorable in their jobs. I have flown United, US Air, and American Airlines. And all of them try to go out of there way to help accommodate the best that they can. In other areas of baggage, the ability to be able to check a bag that is tagged necessary support equipment is one of the best ideas that has ever been instituted. I have found that equipment that I need such as a portable shower bench, a portable toilet, or sliding boards for transfers that we’ve placed into a suitcase was allowed to be checked free of charge. For this I say, thank you so very much. I ask that we continue to strive for all who are limited in their abilities and those who need support help such as aids and other support equipment if they be showing the same respect as those who are limited in abilities. I thank you for your time in reading this letter and I hope that it helps in some way of making a decision as to how or in some way help those who are limited in abilities. Please keep supporting in funding as well as mandates and helping all of us who either have missing limbs or are limited in abilities again I thank you for your time.

Staff Sergeant William D Jackson, PA