Trump Administration Grants Gold Star Families and Military Veterans Free Entrance to Public Lands

by
posted on October 29, 2020
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Today, on behalf of the Trump Administration and in support of America’s military members and families, U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt announced at the Iowa Gold Star Museum that Gold Star Families and U.S. military veterans will be granted free access to national parks, wildlife refuges and other Federal lands managed by the Department of the Interior starting on Veterans Day (Nov. 11) this year and every day onward.

“The Trump Administration is committed to honoring American patriots – the men and women who have served in our armed forces,” said Secretary Bernhardt. “With the utmost respect and gratitude, we are granting veterans and Gold Star Families free access to the iconic and treasured lands they fought to protect starting this Veteran’s Day and every single day thereafter.”

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 and the Bureau of Reclamation sites will be waived for veterans and Gold Star Families. They will 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 and climbing.

“Our veterans and Gold Star Families have made incredible sacrifices to defend our freedoms and our homeland. Ensuring that they are able to enjoy all of the natural wonders of the country that they’ve served is one small way of saying thank you,” said U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (IA). “I’m glad to join Secretary Bernhardt here in Iowa today at the Gold Star Military Museum for this historic announcement.

“Our veterans, fallen servicemembers, and their loved ones have made tremendous sacrifices to protect our freedoms, and we are forever grateful for their selfless service to our nation,” said U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (IA), a combat veteran. “I applaud the Trump Administration for giving back to our veterans and Gold Star Families by granting them free access to America’s beautiful national parks and federal lands that our brave men and women in uniform fought to protect.”

Many Department managed lands have direct connections to the American military, such as frontier forts, Cold War sites, battlefields, national cemeteries, and memorials. These special places pay tribute to our veterans and serve as reminders of their courage and sacrifice throughout the history of our nation, from Minuteman National Historic Park where colonists stood in defense of their rights, to Yellowstone National Park, which was protected from vandalism and poaching by the 1st U.S. Cavalry before the National Park Service was established, to Mount Rushmore where modern warriors attend reenlistment ceremonies. 

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 Reserves, and is able to present one of the following forms of identification:

  • Department of Defense Identification Card
  • Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC)
  • Veteran ID Card
  • 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.

The Interagency America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass Program already includes a free annual pass for active duty members of the U.S. Military and their dependents. Other free or discounted passes are available for persons with permanent disabilities, fourth grade students, volunteers, and senior citizens age 62 years or older.

The Department also offers free entrance days for everyone throughout the year to mark days of celebration and commemoration including the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., National Public Lands Day, Veterans Day, and the signing of the Great American Outdoors Act.

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