Veterans with service-connected disabilities would receive free lifetime admission to national parks and other federal lands – more than 2,000 locations nationwide – under a bill that passed the Senate unanimously June 22.
The Wounded Veterans Recreation Act would expand and clarify an existing program that grants an Access Pass to all U.S. citizens or permanent residents with a “permanent disability … that severely limits one or more major life activities.” A VA blog post and media reports from 2019 stated that veterans could claim the free pass under this program with any level of VA disability rating, but the law granting the benefit doesn’t specifically mention VA ratings.
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The Senate bill, introduced by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), updates the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act to allow awarding the free lifetime pass to “any veteran who has been found to have a service-connected disability.”
The legislation moves onto the House for consideration. Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.) introuced a House version of the bill in October 2019.
Learn more about recreation opportunities on federal lands at Recreation.gov. Learn more about existing national park pass programs here. Learn more about the Annual Pass-Military, which is available to currently serving members and dependents, here.