Washington, D.C. — Today, bipartisan, bicameral legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Representative Raul Ruiz (D-CA) that will give free lifetime National Parks passes to all American veterans who incurred or aggravated disabilities while serving in the U.S. military cleared the House of Representatives. The Wounded Veterans Recreation Act previously passed the Senate and now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law.
The bill will amend the 2004 Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA) and make all veterans with a service-connected disability eligible for a free, lifetime pass allowing entry to National Parks and other recreational lands and waters held by the United States. Under the 2004 law, individuals must be permanently disabled in order to be eligible for a free National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass, creating uncertainty on whether all wounded veterans have access to this program. The Wounded Veterans Recreation Actwill clarify the current statute to ensure that these heroes have access to America’s outdoor recreational lands.
“The brave men and women who have served in our military and have been wounded defending our nation should always have free access to our national parks and recreational areas – the American land they fought to protect,” said Senator Collins. “From Acadia to Denali, and everywhere in between, this legislation will ensure that disabled veterans can continue to access our country’s national treasures for outdoor recreation, which can help heal both the visible and invisible wounds of war.”
“We owe our veterans every resource they need to build healthy and happy lives when they come home. TheWounded Veterans Recreation Act is a bipartisan, common-sense bill that will help make good on that effort by amending the law to expand access to our federal lands and parks, free of charge, to veterans living with service-related disabilities.” said Senator Shaheen. “This bill would help open the door for more of our veterans to visit these beautiful spaces, which can play an important role in their rehabilitation. I’m pleased the House has passed this legislation and urge the President to sign it into law as soon as possible.”
The text of the Wounded Veterans Recreation Act can be read here.
Under the 2004 Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA), veterans need to be classified as having a 100 percent permanent disability in order to be eligible for a free National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass. Senators Collins and Shaheen’s bill will amend this law so all veterans with service-related disabilities will be eligible for a free, lifetime pass to national parks and federal lands.