Disabled Vets Will Receive Lifetime Access to National Parks After Tester Bill Unanimously Passes Senate

Ranking Member: “This bill makes our most treasured, beautiful places—in Montana and across the country—freely available to our country’s disabled veterans”

(U.S. Senate) – After sustained efforts from U.S. Senator Jon Tester, the Senate unanimously passed S.327, the Wounded Veterans Recreation Act, legislation to make all veterans with service-connected disabilities eligible for a free, lifetime entry to United States national parks and other federal lands.

“This bill makes our most treasured, beautiful places—in Montana and across the country—freely available to our country’s disabled veterans,” said Tester, Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “Recreation in our national parks and public lands can be a valuable healing tool for veterans living with physical and emotional wounds as a result of their service, and I’ll continue fighting to make sure our legislation crosses the finish line in Congress.”

“The Whitefish Veteran’s Support Team fully supports and encourages passage of S.327,” said J. David Williams, President of Whitefish Veteran’s Support Team. “The granting of a lifetime National Recreation Pass to any veteran with a service-connected disability, including those who carry the invisible wounds of war, is the least we can do as a nation to show our appreciation for the sacrifices our servicemembers have made. The real value that National Parks can play in changing veterans’ lives for the better cannot be understated. This bill grants disabled vets the access to our country’s national treasures that they deserve.”

Under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, 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. Tester’s bill would amend this law to provide a lifetime National Recreational Pass for any veteran with a service-connected disability.

For years, Tester has been pushing to provide veterans across the country with direct and affordable access to America’s national parks. In 2011, Tester led the charge in introducing a bill to create a new “Freedom Pass,” which would provide all honorably discharged military veterans with free, lifetime access to America’s national parks, historic sites, and monuments. He also urged Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to support the creation of a lifetime national park pass for veterans in 2017.

A copy of Tester’s bill can be found HERE.