Blumenthal Demands Amtrak Reverse Course on Outrageous Elimination of Veteran Discount

(Hartford, CT)- Today, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) released a letter to Amtrak President and CEO Richard H. Anderson demanding that he reinstate the outrageous elimination of Amtrak’s longstanding discount for veterans and their families.

“I have recently learned that Amtrak is now planning to effectively eliminate all discounts for veterans, including those I fought to achieve,” Blumenthal writes in the letter. “I urge you to continue to honor veterans with discounts and re-instate your partnership with an organization like Veterans Advantage to ensure veterans and their families have access to all the discounts they are due.  These benefits are a small token of appreciation to veterans who have committed their lives to protecting our nation and help preserve a strong customer base for Amtrak.”

For 17 years, Amtrak has provided a discount fare to veterans and their families. In 2013, after learning that benefits provided to veterans were limited by restrictions and red tape not faced by other groups like AAA members and seniors, Senator Blumenthal helped secure access to more robust benefits for veterans and their families. Now all benefits—including those Senator Blumenthal fought to expand—have been eliminated, with little to no advance communication to veterans and their families.

A copy of the letter can be found here and below.

 

Dear Mr. Anderson:

I understand that you have initiated multiple efforts to improve the safety, reliability and fiscal viability of Amtrak.  However, I am deeply troubled to learn that Amtrak is ending benefits specifically provided to a number of groups, including veterans, for using Amtrak.  This is inexcusable.  I urge you to cease these efforts and reaffirm that veterans will always be welcomed and encouraged to use the nation’s railroad with a discount program that recognizes and rewards their service to our country.

As you know, Amtrak provides discounts to veterans and their immediate family members.  For 17 years, these benefits have been administered through Veterans Advantage, an entity that facilitates benefits and discounts for veterans.  In 2013, I became aware that these benefits were less robust than benefits for other groups such as AAA and seniors.  At that time, veterans were unable to receive a discount on tickets purchased within three days of travel and were forbidden from applying their discount to immediate family members.  I wrote to your predecessor demanding a change.  In July 2014, Amtrak acted accordingly, working with Veterans Advantage to expand the discount for veterans to include purchases made within three days of travel and allowing veterans to apply the benefit to immediate family members. 

I have recently learned that Amtrak is now planning to effectively eliminate all discounts for veterans, including those I fought to achieve.  I urge you to continue to honor veterans with discounts and re-instate your partnership with an organization like Veterans Advantage to ensure veterans and their families have access to all the discounts they are due.  These benefits are a small token of appreciation to veterans who have committed their lives to protecting our nation and help preserve a strong customer base for Amtrak.

I appreciate your attention to this important matter.