On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Interior announced that military veterans and Gold Star Families will get free access to America’s national parks, wildlife refuges, and other public lands starting on November 11.
“With the utmost respect and gratitude, we are granting veterans and Gold Star Families free access to the iconic and treasured lands they fought to protect starting this Veteran’s Day and every single day thereafter,” U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt announced.
This new initiative will grant veterans and Gold Star Family members access to almost 2,000 locations amounting to 400 million acres of public lands at no cost. That means the U.S. Government is not only waiving entrance fees for these parks and other areas, but also standard amenity recreation fees for the Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Reclamation sites.
“Our veterans and Gold Star Families have made incredible sacrifices to defend our freedoms and our homeland. Ensuring that they are able to enjoy all of the natural wonders of the country that they’ve served is one small way of saying thank you,” said U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (IA).
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Free access will begin on Veteran’s Day of this year. In order to take advantage of this program, you’ll need to provide proof of your status as a member of one of those two groups (veterans or Gold Star Family members). According to the Department of the Interior, these documents are accepted for those purposes:
- Department of Defense Identification Card
- Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC)
- Veteran ID Card
- Veterans designation on a state-issued U.S. driver’s license or identification card
“This initiative will provide American Veterans the opportunity to find peace and healing in the outdoors in addition to discovering the beautiful lands that we sacrificed so much to protect,” said Executive Director Warrior Expeditions Sean Gobin.
But don’t worry if you’re still on active duty and want to spend some time in the great outdoors. The Interagency America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass Program offers free annual passes to active duty service members and their dependents.
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Feature image courtesy of the GPA Photo Archive on Flickr