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Bill Seeks to Award Retirement Benefits to Air America Employees

Contractors or employees? Bills have been introduced to provide federal employee retirement benefits to former employees of a covert military organization.

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) has reintroduced legislation to recognize employees that worked for Air America.

Most Americans have never heard of Air America. It was a government-owned corporation. It was unlike other government-owned corporations in that it operated in full view of the public.

The purpose of the legislation is to provide federal employee retirement benefits for those that worked for Air America. The bill was introduced in the Senate in late February and assigned to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs.

The legislation was introduced with a Democratic co-sponsor, Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia.

This organization conducted covert operations during the Cold War, Korean War, and Vietnam War. Their employees worked under the direct policy guidance of the White House, Department of Defense, and the Department of State while under the management of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

An effort was made to make Air America appear to be a private company but its work was entirely for the federal government. When the company was dismantled and the assets sold, the U.S. Treasury received the profit.

Comments on Work Performed by Air America

In a press release, Senator Rubio stated: “The brave men and women employed by Air America who conducted operations during the Cold War, Korean War, and Vietnam War were critical to U.S. efforts. I’m proud to partner with Senator Warner, and our colleagues, to ensure that these Americans receive the long-overdue honor and recognition they deserve.”

The bill’s co-sponsor, Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), issued this statement about the bill:

“I am proud to co-sponsor this bill with Senator Rubio that will provide long-overdue recognition and retirement benefits to the brave men and women who flew for Air America. Air Americans were instrumental to the U.S. war effort in Vietnam and Southeast Asia, courageously supporting troops, rescuing downed American pilots and sustaining casualties in the service of their country. Air America was on call until the very end of the war, including flying the last helicopters out of Saigon where they evacuated Vietnamese civilians and the U.S. Embassy. It is time they be honored with the recognition they deserve, and the grateful thanks of a nation.”

Senator Rubio is working with Congressman Glenn Grothman (R-WI) who has filed a similar bill in the House of Representatives.

There are 63 co-sponsors for the Grothman bill (HR-1297) and 29 co-sponsors for the Senate bill (S-407).

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47