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Sen. Cortez Masto Celebrates Passage of Accelerating Veterans Recovery Outdoors Act

November 12, 2020 by Sean Trambley
The Three Soldiers, a bronze statue by Frederick Hart, on the National Mall. (Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., celebrated the recent passage of the bipartisan Accelerating Veterans Recovery Outdoors Act, included in a package of veterans’ legislation, the Veterans’ COMPACT Act. 

The Accelerating Veterans Recovery Outdoors Act, co-introduced by Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., will create an intergovernmental task force to identify opportunities to expand access and usage of public lands to veterans for outdoor wellness and rehabilitation treatments.

In a statement, Cortez Masto stated, “The passage of this bill is great news for Nevada’s veteran communities, who are increasingly turning to outdoor recreation as a way to prioritize their physical health and mental well-being. Spending time in Nevada’s magnificent outdoor landscapes can be therapeutic, and this bill will make it easier for veterans who have experienced trauma to get the resources they need to heal and benefit from pristine public spaces in Nevada and across America.”

The act establishes an inter-agency task force, co-chaired by the secretary of Veterans Affairs and the secretary of the Interior. This task force would also include the secretaries of Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Defense, and Homeland Security, as well as the chief of the Army Corps of Engineers. 

The task force would seek to better utilize public lands for the rehabilitation and wellness of veterans and to identify existing barriers that prevent veterans from more broadly utilizing outdoor recreation for medical treatment.

This legislation is supported by numerous outdoor recreation and veterans advocacy groups, including the American Legion, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, Minority Veterans of America, Blue Star Families, Vet Voice Foundation, Veteran’s Outdoor Advocacy Group, PeopleForBikes, National Parks Conservation Association, Sierra Club, Outdoor Industry Association, Outdoor Alliance,  Outdoor Recreation Roundtable, Outdoor Research, Adventure Not War, Forgotten Not Gone, Race to Erase 22 and the REI Co-op. 

“The Accelerating Veterans Recovery Outdoors Act is an important step towards connecting more veterans with outdoor recreation on public lands and honoring our commitment to caring for our nation’s veterans when they return home,” said Lise Aangeenbrug, executive director of the Outdoor Industry Association. “This legislation will help more veterans experience the outdoors and further connect outdoor recreation to their health and wellness.  We applaud the leaders of this important legislation on its passage and look forward to working with them on continued support of our veterans.”  

Companion legislation in the House was introduced by Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., and Adam Smith, D-Wash., and included in the House version of the Veterans’ COMPACT Act, which passed unanimously.

The Veterans’ COMPACT Act is now headed to the president’s desk to be signed.

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