Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) today called for the Senate to take action on her bipartisan Accelerating Veterans Recovery Outdoors Act to allow veterans expanded access to public lands for outdoor therapy and rehabilitation treatments. A 2014 study demonstrated the positive impact of outdoor activities on veteran mental health.
“Anyone who’s ever hiked the trails of Nevada’s Ruby Mountains, the shores of Lake Tahoe, or the peaks of Red Rock knows the benefits of time outside appreciating our rich landscapes. Veterans who’ve experienced trauma should have the maximum access to our nation’s public lands. I urge the Senate to advance my legislation to give our nation’s heroes every opportunity to experience the healing power of nature.”
The Accelerating Veterans Recovery Outdoors 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 therapy of veterans and to identify existing barriers that prevent veterans from more broadly utilizing outdoor recreation for medical treatment.
Senator Cortez Masto has introduced numerous bills to help improve veterans’ mental health, including the SERVICE Act to address the epidemic of veteran suicide by expanding access to mental health services for veterans, the Deborah Sampson Act to eliminate barriers to care and services that many women veterans face, and the PAWS Act to provide veterans with access to service dogs.