Virginia State Parks are a therapeutic tonic for the mind, body and spirit.
Joe Elton, Virginia State Parks Director
We owe the freedoms we enjoy to the men and women who currently serve in our military as well as Veterans who have served in years past. I cannot imagine what it is like to fight in a war. I do know a little about what it is like to be a family member at home while a loved one is in a war zone. It is a sacrifice and too many times a sacrifice that leaves scars.
This photograph says it all! My thanks to Tony Alter who captured this shot in a parking lot, for
permission to use it. Tony is a second generation Vet!
Those scars are not always physical although certainly we have seen many young people come back from Iraq, Afghanistan and wars back to the Revolution missing limbs, wounded in ways that might never be completely healed. But there is also the mental and psychological scars that come from seeing what no one should see – memories that haunt our service men and women for the rest of their lives.
If any group of people need and deserve the "therapeutic tonic" offered by our Virginia State Parks it is our Veterans and members of the Armed Services.
In honor of our 75th Anniversary, our park gates will be opened to these deserving folks as we will waive parking and admission fees beginning Memorial Day weekend and until the end of 2011. The free parking applies to Veterans who are Virginia Residents and all active duty military (including activated reservists and National Guardsman) regardless of their state of residency. The offer is also good for the immediate family of active-duty personnel even if that person is not with the family.
State Parks Director Joe Elton explained: "We live in a troubled world with many armed conflicts. America is made safe by those who volunteer to protect our way of life. This promotion is one way for us to show our gratitude." We offer this special welcome to our Veterans and Military as part of our 75th Anniversary celebration.
To participate, veterans must either have a retired military identification card or a standard discharge form known as a DD214. Active duty personnel must have their photo identification card issued by the Department of Defense, and family members must have their government-issued ID card.
The parking fee is waived per car up to and including a 15 passenger van so Veterans and active duty Military are welcome to bring their families. So many of these men and women spend their time away from their families in order to serve so we are pleased to offer them this opportunity to spend rime together.
For a copy of the Governor's Press Release, which includes more details, please click here. Governor McDonnell writes:
Our brave women and men of the military are called upon to sacrifice in countless ways. Now, a grateful Commonwealth thanks them for their service with free admission to all Virginia State Parks from this weekend through the end of the year. This is a small gesture of appreciation for the women and men who have given so much to defend our liberty and freedom. There are 327,000 active-duty military personnel, and families, as well as 823,000 armed forces veterans, who make their homes here in Virginia. We hope many will take advantage of this opportunity. We are also pleased to offer free admission to Virginia’s State Parks for all visitors from June 13th-19th, in recognition of the 75th Anniversary of the Parks. I encourage all Virginians to get out to a State Park this summer and discover first-hand our Commonwealth’s beauty and wonders.