Veterans and Gold Star Families Now Have Lifetime Free Access to National Parks

Veteran's Day marks the official launch of free access to national parks for veterans and Gold Star families
National Park Service

Veterans and Gold Star families will now have access to the country’s national parks, wildlife refuges, forests and other public lands for life at no charge. The National Park Service in partnership with Operation Live Well officially launched the program on Veterans Day, to show their gratitude for all the brave people who have served and are serving the country. 

“We would like to thank military personnel and their families for their service and invite them to enjoy their national parks,” according to a joint statement from the NPS and Operation Live Well on the organization’s website.

Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt said in a statement last month, “With the utmost respect and gratitude, we are granting veterans and Gold Star Families free access to the iconic and treasured lands they fought to protect starting this Veterans Day and every single day thereafter,” CBS News reported.

Entrance fees for national parks and wildlife refuges, in addition to "standard amenity fees (day use fees) at national forests and grasslands, and at lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers," will be waived for veterans and Gold Star families, according to the National Park Service. 

The program will now give veterans and Gold Star families access to about 2,000 public areas sitting on over 400 million acres of public lands across the country, according to the department release. 

To start exploring for free, veterans simply need to present a proper form of identification, such as a Department of Defense Identification Card or Veteran ID Card, at national parks that charge entrance fees. Gold Star family members must bring a printed and signed voucher to present to a park ranger or place on their vehicle's dashboard

The program is an extension of the America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass Program, which already offers free access to current U.S. military members, as well as Reserve and National Guard members and their dependents through its annual Military Pass, reported the news outlet. 

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