The National Park Service Salutes Military Veterans: New online, interactive map connects Military and VA facilities with nearby national parks

In support of the Joining Forces initiative, the NPS also recently launched a new interactive map on NPS.gov highlighting national parks near Department of Defense and Veterans Administration facilities nationwide, making it easier than ever for veterans, service members, their families, and caregivers to find recreational opportunities that support physical, social, mental, and spiritual fitness. With more than 400 national parks across the country, and at least one in every state, parks they are close and affordable places to spend time in nature.  Veterans, active-duty military members and Gold Star families can also obtain a free annual pass that provides admission to more than 2,000 national parks, wildlife refuges, national forests and other federal recreational areas.

“On Veterans Day, and throughout the year, we remember our country’s veterans and the sacrifices they endured to defend our freedoms,” said National Park Service Deputy Director Shawn Benge. “Generations of veterans have enjoyed visiting national parks for physical and mental relaxation. The National Park Service encourages members of the military, past and present, to continue this tradition and the online map is a great tool to help them locate a nearby national park to visit.” 

“The VA recognizes the many health and well-being benefits of outdoor recreation and nature experiences for Veterans,” said Dr. Maria D. Llorente, Veterans Administration Assistant Under Secretary for Health for Patient Care Services. “Outdoor activities serve as an important part of a well-defined care plan that enhances the physical and mental health of Veterans. Expanding nature experiences and outdoor recreation are an important part of VA’s commitment to provide world-class Whole Health to all who have served our country, their caregivers and families. VA appreciates the partnerships we have with the National Park Service to accomplish this mission and look forward to strengthening the opportunities to work with them to expand available outdoor recreation for our Nations Veterans.” 

Multiple national parks partner with veterans’ groups to provide unique experiences. These experiences range from archeological research at Saratoga National Historical Park, to SCUBA excursions at Channel Islands National Park, Everglades National Park and Lake Mead National Recreation Area. The NPS Historic Preservation Training Center has a Traditional Trades Apprenticeship Program for post 9-11 veterans that provides hands-on, historic preservation skills training during a five-month immersive experience that focuses on preserving and restoring monuments at national battlefields, military parks, and historic sites. 

More than 100 national parks with direct connections to the U.S. Military and veterans include battlefields that recall their bravery, landscapes that served as training grounds, monuments that supplied inspiration, and natural areas that have provided rest and recreation. 

National parks with special events taking place to commemorate Veterans Day include: 

  • Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site which will host an outdoor concert by the U.S. Army Field Band Jazz Ambassadors. The park will also celebrate the reopening of a historic aircraft following renovations. Hangar 2 serves as the park’s main visitor center and contains a replica P-51 Mustang fighter, exhibits interpreting the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen.
  • Shenandoah National Park will offer fly fish casting demonstrations in partnership with Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing which is dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled military service personnel and disabled veterans through fly fishing and associated activities including education and outings.
  • Shiloh National Military Park which will provide free guided bus tours of the park for veterans.
  • The National Mall and Memorial Parks which will hold ceremonies at the World War II Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
  • Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area which will have a special cruise for veterans to Georges Island and a guided tour of historic Fort Warren.

“As we reflect on the countless contributions of those who served in the military, I want to especially acknowledge the thousands of veterans in the National Park Service family,” said Benge. “More than a quarter of our employees have military experience. We are grateful for the passion, work ethic and sense of duty they bring to their jobs and honored that they chose to continue serving their country through the NPS.”
Learn more at nps.gov/military.
www.nps.gov


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