flag on a deckrailingMembers of the U.S. military and their families are being given free annual passes to national parks and iconic national monuments as part of an ongoing effort by First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden to show appreciation to service members and help them wherever possible.

As part of the Joining Forces initiative to support our nation’s military families, several U.S. government agencies will be issuing the passes to active duty service members and their dependents, granting free access to more than 2,000 national parks, wildlife refuges, national forests, and other public lands.

“This effort is a wonderful way to give something back, giving our military men and women and their families a chance to reconnect with their loved ones, experience the beauty of this country, and simply have a little fun,” said Dr. Jill Biden on behalf of herself and Mrs. Obama.

Beginning on Armed Forces Day on May 19, active duty service men and women – Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and activated National Guard and Reserves – can obtain the new military version of the America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands Annual Pass. The pass, normally costing $80.00, will be accepted at National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Army Corps sites that charge entrance or fees.

The initiative was announced today during a ceremony at Colonial National Historical Park in Yorktown, Virginia where Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar distributed the first passes to one member from each of the military’s five branches.

“In recognition of their contributions and service, we are putting out a welcome mat for these brave men and women and their families at America’s most beautiful and storied sites,” Secretary Salazar said.

Military members and their dependents can pick up a pass at any national park or wildlife refuge that charges an entrance fee or other selected sites. Members must show a current, valid military identification card to obtain their pass. The pass is also available to dependents of active duty personnel. A list of participating sites is available via PDF download here.

For more information on the pass, please visit: usgs.gov/pass

Thanks to Sean McCormick for suggesting the story!


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