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Proposal would give Michigan veterans free access to state parks

Ocqueoc Falls

In a proposal championed by the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA), the Whitmer administration plans to give all Michigan veterans, active-duty service members and Michigan National Guard members free lifetime access to any state park.

The proposal will be included in Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s state budget proposal for next fiscal year (FY25). The current fiscal year ends Sept. 30, 2024.

“Michigan’s veterans are the best of us, and we can never do enough to live up to the sacrifices they have made,” said Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II, who made the announcement on Veterans Day. “In next year’s budget proposal, we plan to give every one of Michigan’s 530,000 veterans free lifetime access to a state park. We are proud of this step forward to better serve veterans and we will continue making Michigan the best place to be a veteran.”

Michigan will become the third state in the country to offer this benefit, after Oklahoma and Maine.

With more than 100 state parks in Michigan, veterans have plenty of choices where they can get out and enjoy the state’s lakes, forests, trails and outdoor beauty.

“Reconnecting with nature and enjoying the outdoors can be a great form of therapy for veterans, particularly those with PTSD, depression, anxiety and other mental health issues,” said MVAA Director Brian L. Love. “Giving our veterans free access to Michigan’s beautiful state parks reflects our ongoing commitment to support their wellbeing and improve their quality of life.”