Bipartisan, Bicameral Bill Led by Shaheen, Collins & Ruiz to Ensure Access to National Parks for Disabled Veterans Heads to President's Desk
Bipartisan, bicameral legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Susan Collins (R-ME) and Representative Raul Ruiz (D-CA) that would make all veterans who incurred or aggravated disabilities while serving in the U.S. military eligible for free lifetime entry to U.S. national parks and other federal lands has cleared the House of Representatives. The Wounded Veterans Recreation Act previously passed the Senate and after last night's final vote in the House, now heads to the President's desk to be signed into law.
Under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA), individuals must be classified as having a permanent disability in order to be eligible for a free National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass, leaving uncertainty as to whether all wounded veterans have access to this program. The Wounded Veterans Recreation Act would clarify the current statute to ensure that these heroes have access to America's outdoor recreational lands.
"We owe our veterans every resource they need to build healthy and happy lives when they come home. The Wounded Veterans Recreation Act is a bipartisan, common-sense bill that will help make good on that effort by amending the law to ensure access to our federal lands and parks, free of charge, to veterans living with service-related disabilities." said Senator Shaheen. "This bill would ensure that our veterans forever have free access 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 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."
"This is a great outcome for veterans across the country," said Dr. Ruiz. "National parks can connect our veterans with nature and increase their spiritual, mental, and physical well-being. The Wounded Veterans Recreation Act will protect free access to these cherished sites for our disabled veterans and improve their overall health. I look forward to seeing the President sign this bill into law to help improve the lives of veterans."