New Pass Provides Free Lifetime Public Lands Access to Military Veterans and Gold Star Families
As of last month (Veterans Day, Nov. 11), veterans of the U.S. Armed Services as well as Gold Star Families can obtain a free lifetime pass to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites across more than 400 million acres of public lands.
“We have a sacred obligation to America’s veterans. This new lifetime pass is a small demonstration of our nation’s gratitude and support for those who have selflessly served in the U.S. Armed Forces,” said Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, whose father served during the Vietnam War. “I’m proud the Department of the Interior can provide veterans and Gold Star Families opportunities for recreation, education and enjoyment from our country’s treasured lands.”
Each lifetime pass covers entrance fees for a driver and all passengers in a personal vehicle (or passholder and up to three adults at sites that charge per person) at national parks and national wildlife refuges, as well as standard amenity 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. The pass is also available to veterans and Gold Star family members who work for federal agencies.
“As a combat veteran myself, I am immensely grateful to see the Veterans Lifetime Pass become a reality,” said Troy Frost, Deputy Assistant Director for National Conservation Lands and Community Partnerships. “Those who have served in the military and put their lives on the line – as well as those Gold Star families who have lost a loved one in service to our nation – have earned the right to free lifelong access to our magnificent public lands.”
To obtain the pass, veterans can present one of four forms of acceptable ID (Department of Defense ID Card, Veteran Health ID, Veteran ID Card, or veteran’s designation on a state-issued U.S. driver’s license or ID card) at participating federal recreation areas that normally charge a fee. Gold Star Families can obtain information, self-certify they qualify and download a voucher by visiting https://www.nps.gov/planyourvisit/veterans-and-gold-star-families-free-access.htm.
The Alexander Lofgren Veterans in Parks Act, passed in December 2021, authorized free lifetime access to federal lands to veterans and Gold Star Families. The new lifetime pass is in addition to the free annual Military Pass, which has been available to active duty servicemembers and their families since Armed Forces Day, May 19, 2012. Note that the fee waiver does not cover expanded amenity fees, user fees for activities such as camping, special recreation permits, special tours, or reservation fees and associated administrative costs charged by fee sites.
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