OCE Partnership Impact - National Center for Healthcare Advancement and Partnerships
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OCE Partnership Impact

Free entry to National Parks for Veterans with disabilities provides lifelong health benefits

A partnership among multiple federal agencies now makes it possible for Veterans with a permanent and verifiable service-connected disability to gain lifelong free entry to any of the 400 parks and 2,000 recreation sites within the U.S. National Parks system. Eligible Veterans can also take advantage of discounted pricing on nationwide park amenities related to camping, boating, and guided tours. Called the America the Beautiful Access Pass, this benefit supports Veterans in their efforts to maintain healthy levels of physical and mental fitness through outdoor activities and time spent in nature.

The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Office of Community Engagement (OCE) also supports this endeavor: OCE facilitates, manages, and promotes partnerships that support Veteran health and well-being. 

“The physical and mental health benefits of engaging with nature, physical activity, and other Veterans are clear,” said Dr. Tracy L. Weistreich, acting director of OCE. “We are thrilled to see that other government entities are supporting Veterans’ whole health through partnerships that make resources available to Veterans.”

This specific partnership is between the National Park Service, Department of the Interior, Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Army Corps of Engineers, and Bureau of Reclamation.

OCE supports partnerships that relate to physical activity and the outdoors. VA’s partnership with Y-USA (the national entity that oversees YMCA facilities across the country) provides healthy lifestyle programming for Veterans at YMCA facilities across the country. The Y-USA partnership also offers the MOVE! Weight Management Program at community-based facilities, such as YMCAs, that have partnered with VA medical centers. OCE has also supported a Veteran Community Partnership that offers Veterans a horticulture and agriculture training program.

Veterans can obtain a lifetime Access Pass by either presenting documentation in person at a participating issuance site or by submitting an application via mail with a $10 processing fee. Documentation that will be requested includes proof of residency, a photo ID, and a VA disability award letter or summary of benefits.

OCE is a trusted resource and a catalyst for the growth of effective partnerships at the national, state, and community level. For more on OCE’s work, please visit https://www.va.gov/healthpartnerships/index.asp.

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Posted March 10, 2020