Military Times Story By: J.D. Simkins
Remember, remember, the 11th of November, the veteran’s season for free stuff. I know of no reason, why this veteran’s season should ever be rebuffed.
Who knew there existed a long-lost verse of the poem documenting the rebellious exploits of Guy Fawkes that foretold of days when authentic Italian cuisine from Olive Garden would be made available, sans cost, in recognition of service to one’s country?
From a limited menu, though. Let’s not get carried away. You think the Garden is just handing out free salmon piccata in honor of some fugazi Qatar deployment? Fuggetaboutit!
As vets scour online listicles in search of some of these well-deserved Nov. 11 freebies, it’s worth repeating that an excellent offer has been and will remain on the table courtesy of the National Park Service.
In partnership with the U.S. Department of the Interior and Fish and Wildlife Service, among others, the NPS continues to offer free lifetime access passes to over 400 national parks and 2,000 recreation sites nationwide to any veteran with at least a 10 percent disability rating.
Vets can receive the lifetime pass on the spot at any federal recreation area where passes are issued by presenting a form of government-issued identification (driver’s license, state ID, passport, birth certificate) along with documentation proving a service-connected disability.
For a $10 processing fee (which includes shipping), veterans can also order a pass online. But due to a backlog, online orders are currently expected to take up to four to five weeks to deliver once necessary paperwork is submitted. Snail mail orders can also be completed by downloading an application directly from the United States Geological Survey website.
Veterans can prove eligibility for the lifetime pass by providing a Veterans Affairs Summary of Benefits, VA award letter, or documentation showing Social Security Disability Income.
The pass grants access for a driver and any passengers entering a park in a non-commercial vehicle and includes a number of discounts on park amenities such as camping or guided tours.
Active duty military, meanwhile, remain eligible for a free year-long version of the access pass, which includes the same perks, for that year, as its lifetime counterpart.
Current personnel can apply onsite at any of the aforementioned locations by providing a military ID.
So, go enjoy the great outdoors. Just don’t become the newest weekend safety brief example by falling into an active volcano or shooting a bear only to have it roll down a hill and topple you.