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What They Are Saying: The VIP Act

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 2, 2021 -

This week, 135 members introduced the bipartisan Veterans in Parks (VIP) Act with the backing of nearly 60 groups and organizations.

Member Statements of Support

"We owe our American freedoms to our brave servicemen and servicewomen, and the families who have served right alongside these heroes. President Trump did a great job starting this initiative with the America the Beautiful Pass, and I am in full support of making this a permanent benefit for our veterans, active-duty servicemembers, and Gold Star Families." - U.S. Rep. Russ Fulcher (R-Idaho)

"We can never fully repay the brave men and women of our armed forces for their service and sacrifice, but with the VIP Act we can give active-duty service members, veterans, and Gold Star Families free access to all national parks, including Fire Island here in my district. Our veterans put their lives on the line to protect this country. The least we can do is make sure they don’t pay a penny to experience some of its most beautiful places." - U.S. Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-N.Y.)

"While we will never be able to fully repay our brave men and women for donning the uniform and serving our nation, one small token of appreciation is to ensure that they, and Gold Star Family members, are able to visit our national parks and public lands free of charge. The bill I’m helping introduce in Congress, the Veterans in Parks Act, will do just that so our military members and their families can freely visit our beautiful national parks that they so bravely fought to defend." – U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.)

"Arkansas is home to some of the most beautiful parks and public lands in the nation. The VIP Act, of which I am a cosponsor, will give our brave active duty service men and women and veterans lifetime cost-free access to view and visit nature in Arkansas and across the country. I am proud to support this bipartisan effort to make America’s heroes VIPs at our many natural landscapes." - U.S. Rep. French Hill (R-Ark.)

"America owes an insurmountable debt to its veterans for their service and sacrifice. While we, as a Nation, can never truly measure our gratitude, it’s important we do everything we can to show our appreciation and help the millions of veterans and their families. Ahead of Independence Day, I’m proud to support the Veterans in Parks Act, which would give veterans, Gold Star families, and those actively serving our country free access to America’s treasured landscapes, monuments, and parks. Thank you to the brave men, women, and their families who have served our nation- I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure this bipartisan bill becomes law." - U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.)

"I am honored to join my colleagues to introduce the VIP Act in support of America’s heroes and Gold Star families. Servicemembers and military families represent the best of this nation – they bravely answer the call to service and all too often pay the ultimate price for our freedoms. I can think of no groups more deserving than our veterans and Gold Star families to enjoy lifetime access to America’s national parks." - U.S. Rep. Carol Miller (R-W.V.)

"The men and women who have served in our Armed Forces have demonstrated the depth of their devotion to our country, and they have earned free and unlimited access to our nation’s beautiful public lands they fought to protect. I am proud to sponsor the VIP Act to support those who have sacrificed so much for our freedoms and ensure that servicemembers, veterans, and Gold Star families have free entry to our national parks and federal lands for life." - U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.)

"As we approach Independence Day, I am proud to cosponsor the VIP Act to give military service members, veterans and Gold Star families free entry to our national parks and public lands. In California’s 8th District, which includes over 7,830 square miles of national park land, this is a great way to celebrate those who have served and sacrificed for our nation." - U.S. Rep. Jay Obernolte (R-Calif.)

"The everyday freedoms we enjoy as Americans are because of the brave men and women of our nation’s armed services. As we head into the weekend to celebrate our nation’s Independence Day, it’s important to honor those sacrifices. That’s why supporting the Veterans in Parks (VIP) ACT to give America’s heroes free access to national parks was a no-brainer. They fought for us, now it’s our turn." - U.S. Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.)

"Providing our veterans with the high-quality services and care they’ve earned is one of my priorities. We owe our military a debt we can never repay. One way we can honor their – and their families’ – service is by protecting their ability to enjoy our National Parks. The Veterans in Parks (VIP) Act, provides these Americans with free access to land they have sacrificed to defend." - U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.)

Industry Statements of Support

"America's heroes deserve to enjoy America's best idea. Providing free access to National Parks, National Forests, and Wildlife Refuges to service members and their families is the least we can do to thank them. The American Conservation Coalition is grateful for Representative Miller Meeks' leadership on this important initiative." - Quill Robinson, vice president of government affairs, American Conservation Coalition

"By answering the call to service, our active duty military and veterans have proven a willingness to sacrifice on behalf of this nation, demonstrating their commitment to its highest ideals. Ensuring them unfettered access to America's most meaningful landscapes, places of enduring significance to the fabric of our nation, is a fitting gesture of gratitude. The American Battlefield Trust, a stalwart supporter of both the National Park Service and our modern military, unreservedly supports the Veterans in Parks Act, and stands ready to help welcome modern warriors as they walk in the footsteps of their forbearers at the nation's battlefield parks." - David Duncan, president, American Battlefield Trust

"Our nation’s parks and public lands, and the cultural resources they contain, are integral in telling the story of America. Active-duty servicemembers, veterans and Gold Star Families have given so much to our country, and so it only makes sense to provide them with free access to America’s historic and scenic treasures. The American Cultural Resources Association commends Representatives Miller-Meeks and Gallego for introducing this bill, and we urge Congress to pass it as soon as possible." - American Cultural Resources Association

"American Hiking Society applauds the introduction of the bipartisan Veterans in Parks Act (VIP Act) to ensure that military families and veterans have access to the health and recreation benefits of the outdoors. Current military service members, veterans and Gold Star families have given so much and deserve to have lifetime pass access to the public lands and hiking trails to improve their physical and mental wellbeing." - Kate Van Waes, executive director,  American Hiking Society

"America owes a debt to veterans that may never be fully repaid but the Veterans in Parks (VIP) Act is a great start. Allowing veterans free access to public lands they defended in service to their nation is a thoughtful gesture of appreciation from a grateful nation. The American Legion is proud to support Veterans in Parks (VIP) Act, which would allow veterans to visit our National Parks and public lands free of charge."
- The American Legion

"Outdoor recreation is one of the many aspects of America’s heritage that our veterans and military service members have fought to protect. The sportfishing industry is proud to support the Veterans in Parks Act, which will ensure veterans and military service members have free access to federal recreation areas so they can enjoy the many outdoor opportunities, including fishing, that our nation’s public lands offer." - Mike Leonard, vice president of government affairs, American Sportfishing Association

"American Trails is excited to support the Veterans in Parks Act. For many years, our country's active and veteran service members have relied on outdoor recreation, and more specifically trails, to build healthy, active lifestyles, ensure mental health and stability, and connect with other like-minded individuals. Whether on foot, wheel, or water, this Act will go a long way toward helping veterans and their families to enjoy the many benefits of trails on our nation's public lands." - Mike Passo, executive director, American Trails

"Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is pleased to support the bipartisan Veterans in Parks Act. We believe easing access to our public lands for those who are serving, or have served our nation in the armed forces, is a great way to honor them.  We stand ready to assist Representatives Miller-Meeks and Gallego to see this bill across the finish line." - Tony Blando, legislation advisor, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers

"The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) applauds Reps. Miller-Meeks and Gallego for introducing the Veteran’s in Parks Act. As veterans themselves, Reps. Miller-Meeks and Gallego know first-hand the important role the outdoors—including hunting and fishing—plays in the lives of many veterans, and we are excited to see the VIP Act introduced to reduce barriers to entry for our nation’s servicemen and women." - Jeff Crane, president and CEO, Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation

"Our service members and veterans took oaths to protect our land against enemies, so it only makes sense that they have the opportunity to enjoy the national parks and lands they vowed to defend free of charge. I’m pleased this legislation also includes Gold Star Families, which have given so much to this nation. Providing lifetime passes so they can always access our parks and public lands is just the right thing to do and ConservAmerica is pleased to voice its support." - Todd Johnston, vice president of policy, ConservAmerica

"As a longtime hospitality partner of the National Park Service as well as an employer and supporter of military veterans, Delaware North strongly endorses the Veterans in Parks Act and is ready to assist in this effort. Providing active military service members, veterans and Gold Star Families with free lifetime access to national parks is a wonderful way to give back to those who have served and sacrificed for our country, ensuring they can share in the incredible experiences the parks have to offer." - Scott Socha, group president for the parks and resorts division, Delaware North

"A special blessing and thank you to Representatives Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA) and Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) for the Support the Veterans in Parks (VIP) Act! The VIP Act offers a small thank you to military service members, veterans, and Gold Star Families for their patriotism and service to our Nation, but it goes beyond saying thanks, it offers an opportunity for healing. Medical research clearly proves the ability to find healing in our greatest outdoor treasurers, America’s national parks. God’s marvelous creation provides perhaps the greatest healing place for many of our heroes and their families who suffer deep internal wounds. The VIP Act offers our heroes hope for healing, wholeness, restoration and simply great fun!" - Mitch Hescox, president and CEO, Evangelical Environmental Network

"Not only is it important that we defend this great country, but allow those service members who have risked the greatest cost to enjoy our public lands – those lands that help make our nation worth defending – at no cost. We are all so grateful to Representatives Miller-Meeks and Gallego for their leadership on such an important issue." - James L. Cummins, president, Mississippi River Trust

"Our active-duty military, veterans and Gold Star families have given so much for our freedoms, we are proud to support this legislation that would give them the opportunity to enjoy the peace and tranquility of this nation’s national parks and public lands. Many of our privately-owned RV parks and campgrounds are in close proximity to these public lands, and many of them are owned by veterans and Gold Star families. In addition, they see the economic benefits tourism provides to our national parks, public lands and surrounding communities and would welcome the many deserving individuals and families who would take advantage of this wonderful benefit." - Paul Bambei, president and CEO, National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds

"We owe our brave service members and their loved ones a debt of gratitude and providing them access to our public lands and waters free of charge is a great way to thank and honor their service and sacrifice. On behalf of the recreational boating community, we applaud Representatives Miller-Meeks and Gallego for championing this noble initiative and call on all members of Congress to support this measure and our armed forces, who ensure every American can enjoy our cherished national pastimes." - Callie Hoyt, director of federal government relations, National Marine Manufacturers Association

"Our national parks and other Great Outdoors places are shared legacies of all Americans. They are sources of inspiration as we see natural beauty and hear stories of our development as a nation. It is appropriate that those who have served our nation receive an expression of our collective thanks through this tangible invitation to visit these special places without entrance fees." - National Park Hospitality Association

"America’s veterans not only fought to protect our communities, but also our public lands and access to these lands. In turn, many veterans enjoy outdoor recreation with loved ones and find a sense of peace, healing and wholeness while on our public lands. I am grateful that the VIP Act recognizes this reality and seeks to honor the enduring sacrifice veterans and their families have made for our country." Andrew Black, public lands field director, National Wildlife Federation

"The outdoors can be a place of refuge and healing, providing countless mental and physical health benefits for everyone. This important proposal would ensure active-duty service members, veterans, and their families can enjoy and experience the benefits of our country’s beautiful national parks and public lands free of charge. We are pleased to see this commitment to improving access to the outdoors and providing veterans with the resources and opportunities they deserve." - Lise Aangeenbrug, executive director, Outdoor Industry Association

"Our National Parks are some of America's greatest treasures and their availability is due in part to the efforts of the men and women who have served our country in uniform. We applaud the introduction of Representative Miller-Meeks' Lifetime Veterans Pass bill because granting servicemembers and veterans lifetime access to these venues is an appropriate way to recognize their service." - Heather Ansley, associate executive director of government relations, Paralyzed Veterans of America

"Science and research continue to prove that time in nature can and does have a positive impact mental and physical health. That’s why REI Co-op is proud to support the Veterans in Parks Act, which will allow those who currently and have served our country to more easily access the outdoors. We applaud the bipartisan introduction of this bill to make it as easy as possible for veterans, active military and their families to reap all the benefits the great outdoors has to offer."  – Marc Berejka, director of community and government affairs, REI

"America’s public lands and waters provide unique opportunities for healing and respite for many veterans upon returning home from service. Veterans, active duty service members, and Gold Star Families shouldn’t be denied access to the benefits of nature because of a lack of funds. The Veterans in Parks Act will ensure that those who have served and sacrificed for our country can enjoy a direct connection to the landscapes and waters they defended." Rob Vessels, campaign manager, Sierra Club Military Outdoors

"There is no better way to recognize the selfless service of our active-duty military and veterans than providing free America the Beautiful passes. Tourism community leaders across the Southeast enthusiastically support the Veterans in the Park (VIP) Act as an expression of gratitude for service members, veterans and Gold Star Family members. Encouraging more of them to explore the exceptional experiences of visiting America’s public lands, historic sites, and recreational areas is an important part of ongoing tourism efforts." - Monica Smith, president and CEO, Southeast Tourism Society

"America's national parks include some of our country's most beautiful lands for rest and recreation. The Veterans in Parks Act, or VIP Act, would honor our service members, veterans, and families by providing free access to our national parks and public lands. This bill would codify the existing benefits of the America the Beautiful Pass, ensuring that those who served will always have free access to more than 2,000 of our nation's parks and federal recreation areas." - Kristina Keenan, national legislative service associate director, Veterans of Foreign Wars

"Vista Outdoor and our family of brands are proud to support the bipartisan Veterans in Parks Act. Public lands are a vast, untapped resource for healing, comradery and adventure. Inviting more veterans and their families to experience these many benefits is not only good policy, but it's the right thing to do. Our veterans and their families have served with honor, putting their lives on hold while willingly entering harm's way. Providing access to our public lands is an important tool in the transition to civilian life while also showing our collective thanks and appreciation for their service. Representative Miller-Meeks and Representative Gallego should be commended for their dedication to our public lands, veterans and bipartisanship." -  Kelly Reisdorf, chief communications officer, Vista Outdoor

Other supporters of the VIP Act include: America Outdoors, American Horse Council, Archery Trade Association, Association of Marina Industries, Audubon, Bell Helmets, Blackburn, Blackhawk, Boone and Crockett Club, Bipartisan Policy Center Action, Bushnell, CamelBak, Camp Chef, CCI, Eagle Industries, Federal Ammunition, Giro, HEVI-Shot, International Inbound Travelers Association, the National Association of Counties, National RV Dealers Association, Outdoor Recreation Roundtable, Primos, QuietKat, Remington, Rugged Range, Student Conservation Association, The Corps Network, The Mission Continues, The Nature Conservancy, Trout Unlimited, U.S. Travel Association, VoteVets and the Wildlife Management Institute.

Contact: Committee Press Office 202-225-2761

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