Friday, July 19, 2024
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FREE – National Park Passes

FREE… I am hoping I grabbed your attention. I have enticed you before with these no cost ben­efits. I will be the first to tell you nothing is com­pletely free if you count the effort required to obtain these complimentary benefits. For those interested in exploring our national parks, I think the small investment is well worth the return.

The Interagency Military Lifetime Pass waives entrance fees for the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and standard amenity recreation fees for the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. For­est Service and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sites for current military service members and their dependents, Veterans and Gold Star Fam­ilies.

Veterans and their families have free access to approximately 2,000 public locations spread out across more than 400 million acres of public lands, which host activities to fit any lifestyle— from serene to high octane, including hiking, fishing, paddling, biking, hunting, stargazing, camping, and much more.

For purposes of this program, a Veteran is identified as an individual who has served in the United States Armed Forces, including the Na­tional Guard and Reserve, and is able to present one of the following forms of valid (unexpired) identification: Department of Defense Identifi­cation Card, Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC), Veteran ID Card, or Veterans designa­tion on a state-issued U.S. driver’s license or identification card.

Gold Star Families are next of kin of a member of the United States Armed Forces who lost his or her life in a “qualifying situation,” such as a war, an international terrorist attack, or a military op­eration outside of the United States while serving with the United States Armed Forces.  

Passes can be obtained in person while visiting a participating site. In addition, passes, as well as those for seniors and persons with permanent dis­abilities, are available online through the USGS Online Store with an additional processing fee (currently $10… not completely free).

For more information about eligibility and passes, visit National Park Service website at www.nps.gov/planyourvisit/veterans-and-gold-star-families-free-access.htm

For more information about applying for a Vet­eran ID Card, visit www.va.gov/records/get-vet­eran-id-cards/vic/  

For more information about applying for a Vet­eran Health ID Card, visit www.va.gov/health-care/get-health-id-card/

Brad Anderson is the Lake County Veterans Ser­vice Officer and can be reached at 218.834.8326, or cvso@co.lake.mn.us  Karen Christianson is the Cook County Vet­erans Service Officer and can be reached at 218.387.3639, or karen.christianson@co.cook.mn.us

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