Congress: Grant veterans free access to public lands

I joined the U.S. Army as a Calvary Scout in August of 2001, one month before the attacks on September 11th.

I served a peacekeeping mission in Kosovo and later deployed to Iraq as a Brigade sniper on counter IED and counter mortar missions. I performed over 160 combat missions without the use of an armored vehicle, engaged in countless firefights, and survived dozens of ambushes.

My transition back to civilian life was challenging. I struggled with intrusive thoughts, anxiety, depression, and more. But I found peace in the outdoors -- camping, hiking, and exploring natural wonders became a way of life.

That's why I support legislation granting free lifetime access to our national parks for veterans, and I'm asking you to join me.

Add your name to mine and tell Congress: Support legislation that would provide veterans free access to public parks.

Currently, to enjoy a lifetime pass on these lands, a veteran requires a disability rating from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

There are millions of veterans with a service connected disability, but too often some choose not to file claims or even visit the VA after returning home.

Free access to our nation's parks and federal recreational lands would definitely give many of them incentive to get outdoors for what would be a very therapeutic experience. A 2013 University of Michigan study backs that claim up. They found a link between outdoor activity and long-term psychological well-being among veterans.

That's why this idea is so important. Add your name to mine and tell Congress to pass legislation providing veterans free access to public parks.

Veterans swore an oath to make the ultimate sacrifice in defense of the lands we love. We shouldn't have to pay again at the front gate.

It's time for Congress to act.

All the best,

Garett Reppenhagen
Iraq War Veteran
VoteVets & Vet Voice Foundation

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