May 15, 2012
Today with just one percent of Americans fighting our wars, we need to make sure that 100 percent of all Americans are supporting our troops and their families.
Starting this Saturday, Armed Forces Day, we'll be offering all active duty military a free annual pass that will grant access to service members and their dependents to more than 2,000 sites across this great country. The annual pass will be accepted at all public plant sites that charge entrance or standard amenity fees, including those that are managed by the US Army Corps of Engineers, the National Park Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the Bureau of Land Management.
In short, we're putting out the welcome mat for military families at America's most beautiful and storied sites.
With this program, like the President's America's Great Outdoors Initiative, we'll bring a lot of visibility, not only to you and your family but the most important thing we want to do is get the kids outside. So, hopefully, all of you and your families will be able to take advantage of all that we are able to provide.
It's a small way. It's just a small token that we can express our appreciation for your service and the sacrifices of your families.
It may sound like a small thing, a free park pass. But when you expand that out over our 1.4 million service members and all of their families, it's a pretty huge investment in our country's fighting forces and letting them know, "Hey, come on out. Get outside. This is a great place to be and a great place to heal and relax or become a more resilient service member."
The fact that administration has acknowledged and supported the members of the Department of Defense and their efforts to secure the nation, this token of appreciation to allow them access to the parks and lakes is absolutely a phenomenal example of the support we actually do have for our people and the government.
I think it's great. I love the outdoors. I love camping. I love doing all of that stuff so it's a good deal.
Our service men and women do a lot and their families do a lot. Those families sacrifice quite a bit and I think that this not only goes out to the military members but to the families. And I think that is a very generous effort.
I think the biggest message is that the national parks on all of the public lands are really here because of the defenders of our country and the service men and women and their families. And that these are places that they can come and recreate, rehabilitate, restore their families and just reengage with one another. All of the public lands are just a great opportunity to do that.
It is our hope that a visit to one of these great icons of America's natural and historic heritage will provide our brave men and women with opportunities to bond with loved ones, unwind, heal, rejuvenate, and yes, to have fun together.