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Veterans Report: Airports a welcoming place for America’s veterans

Individuals who are frequent flyers have got to be upset with the long lines at the TSA inspection gates. Actually, even occasional flyers are most likely unimpressed with the slow, laborious process of getting checked in at major airports.

Of course I am well aware that the security of the passengers is the main goal of the inspections and searches, and I must admit that in recent years no one has seemingly been able to sneak weapons-grade contraband on board and use it to bring down an airplane. Great work, TSA!

Yet it does seem that something can be done to make the whole process go a bit more quickly.

And I do want to question one area of the TSA that might need revision. At a recent charity event in Las Vegas, members of the TSA arrived in full uniform.

Not to carry out security, but instead as the official TSA Honor Guard. They carried the U.S. flag, marched in quick step and one member sang the “Star Spangled Banner.”

Americans can appreciate the patriotism that was shown, but I personally wondered how much time and training is involved by those individuals who are paid to carry out passenger inspections, not to take part in honor guard activities.

I applaud the Americanism and dedication of the honor guard members. And I have not inquired, but I’m going to give the TSA the benefit of the doubt and guess that the individuals do the honor guard work on their own, unpaid time.

Yet I still feel that perhaps they could use the time more efficiently by getting more security training in place of quasi-military marching and singing at charity appearances?

But enough of the TSA — when it comes to the airport, how about a financial discount from the vendors?

Last month I found myself at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that many of the vendors and retailers at the facility were displaying signs advertising discounts for veterans and military.

And when I did make a purchase, I showed my military I.D. and promptly received a 10 percent price reduction.

The airport also had signage promoting a website — FlyChicago.com/militarydiscounts. When I arrived back in Las Vegas I checked it out.

The site notes in part that the Chicago Department of Aviation “is happy to work with concessionaires … to offer a number of specials throughout the year…the listed specials are available to active, retired and veteran members of the United States Military.”

That prompted me to contact McCarran Airport in Las Vegas and ask if such discounts are available there. I received an e-mail reply: “Many of our vendors offer a 10 percent discount to all military active or inactive that can produce military I.D.”

So while I didn’t see any signs such as the ones in Chicago, any eligible person with a valid military or veterans I.D. should ask for the discount when traveling through McCarran.

Chuck N. Baker is an Army veteran of the Vietnam War and a Purple Heart recipient. Every other Sunday he discusses veterans’ issues over several Lotus Broadcasting AM radio stations in Southern Nevada.

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