Under Sinema’s bill, 40 brave Arizonans would get the benefits they’ve earned
WASHINGTON – Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema cosponsored the Air America Act—bipartisan legislation introduced by Republican Senator Marco Rubio (Fla.) that provides retirement benefits for Air America employees who honorably served our country conducting covert operations in designated war zones.
“Arizonans working for Air America risked their lives to keep our country safe and secure; they earned federal retirement benefits,” said Sinema.
Air America was a government-owned corporation that conducted covert operations during the Cold War, Korean War, and Vietnam War. Air America employees worked under direct policy guidance of the White House, Department of Defense, and Department of State while under the management of the CIA. Because of its covert nature, employees have not yet been able enroll in government retirement programs.
Air America employed several hundred U.S. citizens, mainly flight crew members—286 of which were killed in the line of duty while conducting covert operations in designated war zones. The last helicopter mission that rescued personnel from the rooftops in Saigon in 1975 was planned and executed by Air America and the U.S. Marine Corps.
The declassification of CIA documents in 2009 confirmed that Americans serving Air America were federal government employees at the time of their service and therefore entitled to federal retirement benefits. Sinema’s bipartisan legislation returns these earned retirement benefits to the approximate 500 still living former Air America employees or their families—approximately 40 of whom are Arizonans.