Trump Signs Bipartisan Bill That Helps Veterans Access the Outdoors

Anyone who has spent time in the outdoors knows that it is good for the soul. In the words of the great Fred Bear, “Immerse yourself in this outdoor experience. This will purify your soul and make you better.” That is so true and this is especially relevant to our veterans.

Since September 11th, 2001 our country has been in a perpetual state of war and the stressors overseas and back at home have taken their toll on our service members. Many have taken solace in the outdoors as a way to deal with their trauma and heal.

I know this from personal experience. I spent the last year deployed to Iraq and getting back in the woods has helped me relax and drop off the stressors that have plagued me this last year. The outdoors has become my escape and I cherish every minute of it.

It is good to see that our elected leaders are seeing the benefits of being in the outdoors, especially with regards to our hurting veterans. On the 5th of December, President Trump signed into law the Accelerating Veterans Recovery Outdoors Act or AVROA.

The AVROA is a bipartisan bill sponsored by both Republicans and democrats that 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 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. 

One of the big supporters of the bill is the hunting conservation group, Back Country Hunters and Anglers. They have already taken steps to get veterans into the outdoors even before this bill was passed.

“The passage of AVROA is a major win for all veterans, and we commend the congressional leaders who championed this bill and thank the president for signing it into law,” said Morgan Mason, the Armed Forces Initiative coordinator for Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (BHA).

“Spending time outdoors is like a reset button for your brain,” Mason told Coffee or Die Magazine. “For military members and veterans who are dealing with issues like post-traumatic stress, survivor’s guilt, or opioid addiction, outdoor activities like hunting aren’t a cure-all, but having these experiences makes you a better person because they destress your mind by dumping some dopamine into your brain and making you feel good. We want people to feel the weight of the world drop off their shoulders and feel that stress melt away, and public land makes that possible for everyone.”

This is a big win for veterans and hopefully getting more of them into the outdoors. Hopefully, it can help with the suicide epidemic that has a gripe on the veteran community.

Knowing the Government it may take a while to veterans see any fruit from this bill, but there are many great outdoor organizations for veterans out their right now.

The Fallen Outdoors is one of the best ones I have been a part of. They are a large community of veteran hunters and anglers that work to build relationships and help get other veterans outdoors. If you are a veteran look them up on Facebook and take advantage of what they provide.