Community Matters: 
NPCA & The Veterans Protecting Our National Parks

Our Community Matters series is a grassroots approach to supporting those who support the nation—the communities that feed America, build America, and protect America. Our newest story highlights the veterans, active duty, reservists, and military families who protect our national parks through service projects and advocacy.

Every day, America’s military heroes put their lives on the line in defense of our land and our liberty. Returning to civilian life can be an incredible challenge.

To ease the transition, many veterans find community across our national parks, which were established for a similar goal—to protect American land. These parks, with their endless pristine landscapes, are a testament to the majesty of America. And they need defenders.

National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) was founded to preserve these national treasures for generations to come. Their veteran program utilizes the passion and expertise of military veterans, active duty, reservists, and military families to achieve their shared goal. Their vision—a National Park System that tells the full American story—is supported by the military heroes participating in the charge.

Veterans have a special connection with our national parks. The stories of our military and the fight for our freedom, democracy, and way of life are told through our parks. Of the National Park System’s 426 sites, 156 commemorate and interpret our nation’s rich military history. Protecting these lands will protect the stories and lessons they impart.

NPCA believes that every veteran deserves the opportunity to connect with our national parks and foster that relationship. In addition to the universal mental health benefits, studies have shown that recreation in nature can help veterans reintegrate into civilian life.

Through advocacy and service projects, these veterans champion our national parks at a time of dwindling budgets and 
intensifying climate disasters.

On Capitol Hill, veterans working with NPCA urge lawmakers to secure funding for more park rangers, better infrastructure, and climate disaster preparations across all 84 million acres of national parks. On the ground, veterans participate alongside NPCA to keep our national parks healthy and accessible for humans and wildlife alike.

Their mission might differ from day to day, but whether they are building bridges in Biscayne National Park or meeting with members of Congress to lobby for more park funding, the end goal is always the same—to protect our national parks and preserve the stories they represent. In doing so, they conserve wildlife habitats, keep air and water clean, and safeguard the freedom of wide-open spaces for all.

America’s national parks are more than tourist attractions—they are an extension of our values and a symbol of our shared heritage. In defending our parks, this community of military heroes continues to serve the nation with honor.