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New law promotes veteran recovery programs

by Clark Fork Valley Press
| December 23, 2020 12:00 AM

A bill championed by U.S. Senator Steve Daines which will promote outdoor veteran recovery programs and expands outdoor recreational opportunities for veterans on public lands was recently signed into law.

According to a press release from Daines' off, the bipartisan “Accelerating Veterans Recovery Outdoors Act” will help create treatment and therapy opportunities for veterans on public lands and outdoor spaces.

“The outdoors is critical to our Montana way of life and can help Montana veterans who are recovering from trauma and injuries they experienced in combat," Daines said. "That's why I'm glad my bipartisan bill promoting recovery and treatment programs on public lands for the benefit of Montana veterans has been signed into law.”

The new law requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to establish a task force on outdoor recreation for veterans to report on and make recommendations regarding the use of public lands or other outdoor spaces for medical treatment and therapy for veterans.

Daines' bipartisan bill has significant support from stakeholders.

“At Vista Outdoor, we are committed to getting people of all ages, backgrounds, and professions outdoors. Those who have served our nation in uniform deserve all the benefits that the outdoors has to offer. We see this legislation as a critical first step to prioritizing outdoor activities for the treatment of veterans on our federal lands. With more than 20 million veterans and over 660 million acres of federal land, this legislation is a smart policy match and we support it wholeheartedly,” said Fred Ferguson, Vice President of Public Affairs.

“The COMPACT Act (formerly Accelerating Veterans Recovery Outdoors Act) is an important step toward 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, 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.”

“Our veterans deserve the best care possible, including appropriate doses of time in nature and the outdoors. As an ever-expanding body of evidence demonstrates, there is a direct connection between regular opportunities for recreating in nature and improvements in vets’ physical and mental wellbeing. At REI, we are confident that the Access to Veterans Recovery Outdoors Act, paired with research being done around the country, can create more pathways for veterans to heal. We especially appreciate the leadership of those who led this important legislation and their commitment to removing barriers to connect veterans to nature as a form of healing,” said Taldi Harrison, Government Affairs Manager, REI.