Veterans, Gold Star families to get lifetime passes to US national parks

Entrance sign along U.S. Highway 212 at the northeast entrance into Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, The northeast entrance to Yellowstone National Park is on US Highway 212 a few miles west of Cooke City Montana as one crosses into Wyoming. (Ph

Veterans and Gold Star families will be given free lifetime access to national parks in the United States, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced.

"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 Veterans Day and every single day thereafter," said Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt in a statement.

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The "America the Beautiful" access pass currently costs $80 per year, and gives the passholder entry to about 2,000 federal recreation sites spread out across more than 400 million acres of public lands, including the country's national parks, wildlife refuges and other Federal lands managed by the Department of the Interior.

Annual passes were already free for active members of the military, and will now be extended to include veterans and Gold Star families -- those who have lost a family member of the US Armed Forces who died while serving in a war, military operation outside the US or an international terrorist attack.

LINK: For more information, visit the VA's website.