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Congress Considers Giving Veterans With Disabilities Lifetime Passes To National Parks

Wounded Veterans Act Would Provide Veterans With Service-Connected Disabilities Access To Federal Lands

U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, is currently the bill’s only cosigner from Wisconsin. Photo: Third Way (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Veterans with service-connected disabilities could receive lifetime passes to national parks and other federal lands if Congress approves a recently introduced bill.

The Wounded Veterans Recreation Act would let certain veterans become lifetime pass holders to every national park in the country. They could also enter federal lands run by the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Bureau of Reclamation for free.

The veteran would have to have a service-connected disability, including anything from post-traumatic stress disorder to an amputated leg.

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U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, the only Wisconsin lawmaker to cosign the bill so far, said providing the free pass is one way to honor a veteran’s service.

“Obviously many of our wounded veterans are coming home with certain physical and mental disabilities,” said Kind. “They should know that the parks have made it easy for them and others to come and visit and for them to get access, even in the back country, of some of these parks now.”

Research conducted by the University of Michigan for the Sierra Club found that veterans participating in a week-long outdoor recreation program “reported significant improvements in psychological well-being, social functioning, and life outlook.” It found that nature can positively impact veterans with serious health issues.

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