Serving a Greater Good: Parks and Veterans
The women and men who serve our country stand as heroes for all Americans. National parks honor their sacrifice and service every day. From providing places of healing to serving as memorials for those who fought, veterans and their stories are inextricably tied to our national parks.
For many veterans, national parks provide an escape – they provide places of solitude, beauty, reflection, and recreation. Whether the transition from active duty to civilian life is easy or challenging, recent or 20 years ago, nature sometimes provides the best medicine. Those living with PTSD often find peace in our parks and benefit from a visit to these national treasures. For others, a trip to the parks is a simple reminder of the country they worked to protect. The National Park Service has created many resources to help veterans connect with their national parks, whether they’re looking to get their heart pumping or to spend some time reflecting.
Some of the most iconic national parks commemorate those who have served. They keep alive the history of our military, its many changes and service. Veterans flock to D.C. each year to visit special spots of remembrance at the National Mall and Memorial Parks. Visitors to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall can trace the name of those who gave their lives in service. Others stop by the Korean War Veterans Memorial to contemplate those who served as they stand beside 19 stainless steel statues of soldiers.
Our national parks belong to all Americans. In a special way, they welcome those who have served the country to find a new mission in protecting our national heritage. From Native American veterans helping maintain trails at Hubbel Trading Post National Historic Site, to veterans in the D.C. area coming together as a Mission Continues Platoon to aid in clean-up efforts of Anacostia Park and river, our service men and women continue to give of themselves. Many programs like these highlight their commitment to service even after they’ve finished serving in the military.
Our national parks preserve the stories of our military, and in equal turn they are supported by these same people. Learn more about these important connections online. Then #FindYourPark/#EncuentraTuParque to connect to these stories in person.