Ruiz’s Bill to Guarantee Disabled Veterans Lifetime Passes to National Parks Signed Into Law
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Raul Ruiz’s bill, the Wounded Veterans Recreation Act, is now law. The legislation, which ensures free national parks passes for all veterans with a service-related disability, was signed by President Trump over the weekend.
Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced the companion bill in the Senate. By increasing veterans’ access to national parks, the legislation will help engage them with nature, which can provide healing and promote physical and mental health.
“I am thrilled to announce that my Wounded Veterans Recreation Act is now law,” Ruiz said in a prepared statement. “Veterans – regardless of disability rating – now have free access to over 2,000 of our nation’s beautiful parks and lands, which will increase their spiritual, mental, and physical well-being. This is an amazing outcome for servicemembers in our district and across the nation. I will always fight to get our veterans the care, benefits, and resources they need to live safe and healthy lives.”
The Wounded Veterans Recreation Act amends the 2004 Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act and clarifies that all veterans with a service-connected disability are eligible for a free, lifetime pass for entry to national parks and federal lands. This includes more than 2,000 recreation sites managed by the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and the Bureau of Reclamation.
“This new law is just one way to show our appreciation for our veterans, who have sacrificed so much for this country,” Sen. Shaheen said in a prepared statement. “Access to our parks and lands is helpful to many veterans with rehabilitation, so I’m very happy to see our bipartisan effort to ensure that access – free of charge – become law. We owe our veterans the very best when they come home to help them build safe, healthy, and happy lives. I look forward to building on the bipartisan spirit that gave way to this new law so we can continue to deliver for our veterans.”
Ed Robles, the Executive Director of Mission Veteran, has emphasized the importance for veterans to connect with the outdoors and the natural environment, especially through visits to national parks.
“I strongly support the Wounded Veterans Recreation Act,” Edward Robles, Executive Director of Mission Veteran, said. “As Executive Director of Mission Veteran, a non-profit that works to improve veterans’ mental health and well-being, I can tell you through our experiences that national parks can be healing and beneficial to the health of our veterans. This bill helps veterans by allowing us to engage each other in a healthy natural environment that promotes dialogue, support, and recreation. Most importantly, this bill validates the service of any veteran who has suffered a disability due to service.”
- Yosemite National Park: Pixaby