In a win for veterans, President Trump Sunday signed into law the Accelerating Veterans Recovery Outdoors Act as part of the Veterans COMPACT Act, which will make it easier for veterans to use the outdoors as part of their medical treatment and therapy.
The act establishes an interagency task force, calling on members of the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of the Interior, among other federal agencies, to identify barriers and make recommendations to increase the use of public lands and other outdoor spaces for veteran medical treatment.
In May 2019, Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Adam Smith (D-WA) introduced the House version of the bill, and Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Steve Daines (R-MT) introduced the companion bill. More than 150 members of Congress from both parties signed on to sponsor the legislation.
REI also played a role by partnering with members of Congress to help draft and advance the bill through the legislative process.
Time in nature has been shown to help people of varying backgrounds with mental health issues by reducing depression and anxiety and increasing overall happiness. Time outside appears to help veterans, in particular, by decreasing symptoms of PTSD. It may also help former service members reintegrate into civilian life.
To learn more about the bill’s history and its significance, read the Co-op Journal’s previous coverage: