House Passes Bill that Frees Veterans from Fees at Federal War Memorials
Throughout the year, veterans and Gold Star families gather at Federal war memorials across the country to pay tribute to their fellow service members and loved ones. Groups that organize formal services must pay a fee when submitting a permit request.
Bipartisan legislation introduced by Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) and Keith Rothfus (PA-12) to waive this administrative fee for veterans and Gold Star families unanimously passed the House today. The Free Veterans from Fees Act (H.R.3997) now moves to the US Senate for consideration.
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said, “Our country owes a great debt of gratitude to our troops, veterans, and their families who bear the burden of the cost of war – those who are killed in combat, and those who come home with visible and invisible wounds of war. Our legislation, the Free Veterans from Fees Act, honors the sacrifices made by veterans and Gold Star families by waiving application fees as they pay tribute to our fallen heroes at Federal war memorials.”
“I am proud the House unanimously passed my bipartisan bill, the Free Veterans from Fees Act (H.R. 3997), and I thank Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) for their support,” said Congressman Rothfus. “Our veterans have valiantly defended our freedoms, values, and way of life. It is important that we stand in solidarity with these heroic men and women to ensure they are not required to pay to visit national war memorials built to honor their bravery and sacrifice to our nation. This bill is about continuing to cultivate a culture that values our veterans and their service, and I look forward to working with the Senate and the President to see it signed into law.”
On the House floor, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said:
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“Our veterans, our servicemembers, and their families sacrifice greatly in service to our country —with some paying the ultimate price, sacrificing all. For those who do come home, they often carry visible and invisible wounds for a very long time, if not for the rest of their lives. It is our solemn responsibility as a country to stand by them to ensure they receive the care, services, and respect that they’ve earned and deserve through their service.
“The fact that today any veteran or a Gold Star family member who wants to use a national war memorial for a special event — be it a vigil, religious service, parade, or other kind of event — is slapped with an application fee to the National Park Service, costing anywhere from $75 to $120 dollars, is frankly unacceptable. Our war memorials are often a place of healing: a place where our brothers and sisters in uniform and our fellow veterans gather to remember those who they served with and never made that trip home and for a Gold Star family member to pay homage to and share new memories with their loved one who’s been lost. This is a gathering place that is so important both for those who have served and those who remember and honor those who have sacrificed everything. It’s unacceptable that our nation’s heroes have to pay a fee to honor our fallen brothers and sisters in this way.
“This legislation is necessary and we have the opportunity to get it passed today. I appreciate the leadership of my colleague, Congressman Rothfus from Pennsylvania, someone who I know is personally deeply committed to serving and honoring our veterans and never forgetting the cost of war and who pays the price. We introduced this legislation to waive the application fee for veterans and Gold Star families applying for a permit at war memorials on federal land. This legislation honors the special bond between veterans that spans across conflicts and generations that we see displayed most prominently in this country on Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day, but something that goes on throughout the year. We must continue to honor this into the future. This simple change in this legislation will lift the financial and bureaucratic burden our veterans face as they pay their respects and remember the lives and sacrifices of their friends and for our Gold Star family members to remember their loved ones.ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW AD
“I want to thank the men and women of the Park Service for their continued work to ensure that our war memorials are kept up and are reflective places for healing. I thank my colleague for his leadership and the support of the Committee to bring this bill to the floor today. I urge my colleagues to support its passage.”