The House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill that, if enacted, will provide veterans and Gold Star families free lifetime access to national parks.
The legislation, which was passed on Thursday, would codify the U.S. National Park Service 2020 decision to offer the America the Beautiful Pass for national parks and public lands to veterans and Gold Star families for free. If signed into law, it would also make these lifetime passes instead of annual.
Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, an Iowa Republican, introduced the Alexander Lofgren Veterans in Parks Act, or VIP Act. The act was named in honor of Alex Lofgren, a former staffer of Rep. Raul Grijalva who died in a hiking accident in Death Valley in April.
“I am thrilled to see my bipartisan Alexander Lofgren VIP Act overwhelmingly pass the House today. We often say that we support the physical and mental health of our veterans, and it is great to see legislation pass that will do great things for the health of our heroes,” Miller-Meeks, who spent more than two decades in the Army, said in a statement.
“Giving our veterans and Gold Star families free lifetime access to our incredible national parks will do wonders. I was proud to partner with a fellow veteran, Congressman Gallego, on this legislation and look forward to working to see this bill reach the President’s desk.”
Lofgren was passionate about the outdoors and used it as a form of therapy after serving in Afghanistan, Grijalva said.
"Alex working with us here saw that nature, our open spaces, our state and federal park lands and wilderness areas and public places were therapeutic, that they were important in the reintegrations of veterans back into our civilian life here after they completed their service to the nation, and he was a huge proponent of that," Grijalva told the Arizona Republic.
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Original Author: Mike Brest
Original Location: Veterans and Gold Star families could have free access to national parks