AIR FORCE DRAGS FEET ON VET TRANSPORT TO HAWAI‘I

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CONGRESSMAN ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA American Samoa U.S. House of Representatives Washington, D.C.

NEWS RELEASE July 26, 2000

Congressman Eni Faleomavaega announced today that he is continuing to push the Department of Defense, the U.S. Air Force and the Department of Veterans Affairs to implement the law which authorized veterans to travel to Hawai‘i on military flights.

"Although I was happy when President Clinton signed the law allowing our vets to fly to Hawai‘i on MAC flights, it seems the federal bureaucracy is fighting us every step of the way," said Faleomavaega. The bill was signed into law in October 1998, and the Department of Defense did not issue its regulation implementing the law until March 2000, nearly one and one-half years later.

"As far as I can tell, only one veteran has flown to Hawai‘i under this new law," noted the Congressman. "The reports I am getting now are that the Air Force has questions about the law. In an effort to get the problem fixed, I have written and called the Air Force again, written and called the Department of Veterans Affairs, and I have personally talked with Senator (Daniel) Inouye (of Hawai’i), who indicated he will personally take the matter up with DOD."

The Air Force has informed the Congressman that on average there are ten seats per week available to space available passengers between American Samoa and Hawai‘i on military flights. "I hope to get this whole process moving by next week," said Faleomavaega.

Veterans are reminded that to travel to Hawai‘i on a military flight for a medical appointment, they will need a certification from the VA, and they should then check in with the Air Mobility Command (formerly MAC) representative at the Tafuna airport. Anyone denied boarding after doing these two things is requested to report the details to the Congressman's office in Utulei.

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