Veterans Day 2020: National Parks Grant Lifetime Free Admission to Gold Star Families, Veterans

by Halle Ames

The National Parks Service has teamed up with Operation Live Well to thank veterans and their families with free admission for life to national parks.

Beginning tomorrow on Veterans Day, the National Park Service, in partnership with Operation Live Well will let Gold Star Families, as well as U.S. veterans, enjoy free access to more than 2,000 parks, forests, and refugees across the U.S. The initiative is to thank veterans and Gold Star Families for their support and service.

Operation Live Well

Operation Live Well is an organization that encourages past and present military personnel to explore the beautiful parks. According to their website, they “want to improve the health and wellness of the entire defense community.” Operation Live Well wants to give back to support veterans, whether through diet, mental health, or physical activity.

On October 28, 2020, U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt announced the decision to open the gates to the military community for free and for life. In addition, areas managed by the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are also participating in the program.

What to Bring to the National Parks

Proof of your service will be necessary at the gate. One of the following forms is acceptable. These include a Department of Defense Identification Card (CAC Card), Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC), Veteran ID Card, or a Veterans designation on a state-issued U.S. driver’s license or identification card.

Gold Star Families

Members of Gold Star Families include next-of-kin to members of the military who lost their lives during a “qualifying situation”. These situations include wars, an international terrorist attack, or a military operation outside of the United States while serving.

Their sacrifice will never be forgotten or go unnoticed.

Members should go onto the national park site before entering the park, where they are asked to download and print their voucher. Upon entering the park, place the voucher on your vehicle’s dashboard.