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Group Of Paralyzed Veterans Fighting To Get Better Conditions On Air Planes For Those Who Use Wheelchairs

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- On this Veterans Day, a group of paralyzed vets is sounding the alarm about the dangers they encounter when traveling on planes. The group is called Paralyzed Veterans of America.

They are fighting for better access on planes, not just for vets, but for anyone who uses a wheelchair.

Traveling by air is cramped, uncomfortable and a hassle for everyone, so imagine the difficulties for someone in a wheelchair.

"Sometimes it's inhumane, it's dangerous," group member Charlie Brown said.

Charlie Brown has been in a wheelchair for 35 years and says planes are a nightmare, noting that even the bathrooms on the aircraft are not wheelchair accessible.

"I can't use the bathroom, so I have to dehydrate," Brown said.

He says that doesn't always work, adding that "it's embarrassing."

Brown was in the Marines when he dove into a pool and broke his neck. Now, he's president of Paralyzed Veterans of America.

"We're advocating for the air carriers amendment act," Brown said.

He says the act will make it "so the aisle on the aircraft wide enough for a wheelchair to go down" and "for bathrooms to be accessible in airplanes."

The International Air Transport Association says, "Airlines have reconfirmed their commitment to improve accessibility in air transport."

But, until changes are made, Brown says people in wheelchairs will endure a variety of hardships.

"I've been asked several times to stand up, out of my wheelchair so they can look at my wheelchair," Brown said.

Because wheelchairs aren't allowed on planes, people have to be transferred to portable devices which can be dangerous.

"I was dropped to the jetway, it broke my tailbone," Brown said.

He says storing wheelchairs with luggage often causes damage. Brown is fighting for rights that anyone could need someday.

"At one point, I was just a Marine, I could run, walk, do everything else. Within the blink of an eye I was in a wheelchair," Brown said. "It could be you, your parents, your children."

The Americans with Disabilities Act has improved access for people with disabilities in many locations but air travel is one thing that the act does not cover.

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