Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) released the following statement celebrating her bipartisan Accelerating Veterans Recovery Outdoors Act being passed into law. The legislation, co-introduced by Senator 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.
“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,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “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.”
“Nevada’s public lands and outdoor recreation opportunities are integral to the high quality of life for which the Silver State is known,” said Colin Robertson, Administrator of the Nevada Division of Outdoor Recreation. “Study after study emphasizes that experiencing nature and participating in outdoor activities can help foster healing, rehabilitation, and restoration for everyone – especially those returning from military service. Nevada’s natural wonders provide the perfect restorative setting to inspire nature-based health and wellness. I want to thank Senator Cortez-Masto for advancing legislation that will help make it as easy as possible for Veterans and their loved ones to connect with nature and enjoy the myriad mental, physical, and spiritual benefits that outdoor experiences on Nevada’s diverse wildlands have to offer.”
“We commend Senator Cortez Masto and her colleagues in the U.S. Senate for passing the COMPACT Act today, a legislative package that includes several provisions that will provide a positive impact on the mental and physical health of our nation’s veterans. As veterans, guides and advocates, we have witnessed first-hand the benefits of nature and know its positive benefits for addressing the mental health issues impacting our veteran population. By including the provisions of Senator Cortez Masto’s Accelerating Veterans Recovery Outdoors Act, the Senate has taken an essential first step towards solving veteran’s issues by identifying and understanding existing barriers to the use of public lands for treatment through the VA. The service and dedication of Sen. Cortez Masto and her fellow Senators are integral to creating sustainable solutions for the problems facing our service members and veterans. We are thankful for her work and we are proud to support this legislation. We look forward to witnessing the lasting impacts that this bill will have on our fellow veterans,” said Dustin Kisling, Executive Director of Veteran’s Outdoor Advocacy Group and Josh Jesperson, President of Veterans’ Outdoor Advocacy Group.
“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.”
“We’ve long known that the outdoors can be a powerful place for physical and mental healing,” said Rob Vessels, Sierra Club Military Outdoors campaign manager. “For many veterans, the trauma they experienced during their military service, both visible and invisible, does not disappear once their time in service ends. By identifying and eliminating barriers for veterans to access public lands, the Accelerating Veterans Recovery Act will ensure that veterans can heal on the landscapes they served to protect, and we thank Sen. Cortez Masto for her support.”
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 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.