Senate passes bill making nation's parks and public lands free for disabled veterans

Julia LeDoux
June 24, 2020 - 11:56 am
Park

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Veterans with service-connected disabilities are now one step closer to free, lifetime entry into the nation’s national parks and other federal lands.

That comes due to the recent passage of the Wounded Veterans Recreation Act by the Senate.

“This bill makes our most treasured, beautiful places in Montana and across the country freely available to our country’s disabled veterans,” said Sen Jon Tester, D-Mont., ranking member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.

Tester has pushed for years to provide veterans across the country with direct, affordable access to America’s national parks.

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In 2011, he introduced a bill to create a new “Freedom Pass" that would provide all honorably discharged military veterans with free, lifetime access to the country's national parks, historic sites and monuments. He also urged Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to support the creation of a lifetime national park pass for veterans in 2017.

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“The granting of a lifetime National Recreation Pass to any veteran with a service-connected disability, including those who carry the invisible wounds of war, is the least we can do as a nation to show our appreciation for the sacrifices our service members have made,” said J. David Williams,  president of the Whitefish Veteran’s Support Team. “The real value that National Parks can play in changing veterans’ lives for the better cannot be understated. This bill grants disabled vets the access to our country’s national treasures that they deserve.”

The bill still needs approval from the House before it can become law.

A copy of Tester’s bill can be found here.

Reach Julia LeDoux at Julia@connectingvets.com.

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