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The National Parks Service (NPS) is offering military families a special gift on Memorial Day by granting free entry to all national parks across the U.S. to the family members of active and fallen U.S. military personnel. 

Military families could gain free access to parks for one year as part of the Interagency Annual Military Pass, but the NPS expanded the benefit to Gold Star families and veterans starting Veterans Day 2020. 

To be a Gold Star family is a distinction no one wants, as it indicates a family who has lost a loved one through military service. 

Yellowstone Falls – Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone – Yellowstone National Park, Montana (MT).
(iStock)

The program has now become a permanent feature, granting access for those families on an ongoing basis.

“Free access for veterans and Gold Star Families will continue indefinitely, unless the Secretarial Order and/or FLREA are amended, superseded, or revoked/expired,” the NPS website says.

The families need only to download a voucher and sign it to assert they are “eligible next of kin” to a member of the U.S. Armed Forces. 

Veterans can present a Defense Department ID card, a Veteran Health ID card, a Veteran ID card or a Veteran’s designation on a state-issued U.S. driver’s license to receive a non-transferable pass. 

Similar access has always been granted to U.S. citizens or permanent residents with disabilities, according to USA Today. 

California has annually granted access to veterans, active-duty and reserve military members on Memorial Day since 2013. 

“Thank you to the brave men and woman who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country,” California State Parks Director Armando Quintero said in a statement. “In their honor, state parks is offering military individuals complimentary admission to some of the most amazing places within California’s state parks system.”

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