Washington, D.C. — The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bipartisan bill introduced by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) that would make all veterans with service-connected disabilities eligible for free, lifetime entry to United States national parks. The Wounded Veterans Recreation Act, which the Senators introduced last year, now awaits consideration by the U.S. House of Representatives.
“Our nation’s wounded veterans made countless sacrifices to defend our country, and it is only right that these brave men and women should have free access to 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 would allow disabled veterans to more easily access our country’s national treasures for outdoor recreation, which can help heal both the visible and invisible wounds of war. I am pleased that our bipartisan bill is one step closer to becoming law.”
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. This allows pass holders access to and use of federal recreation sites that charge an entrance fee, including sites managed by the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Wounded Veterans Recreation Act would amend this law so all veterans with service-related disabilities would be eligible for a free, lifetime pass to national parks and federal lands.