Great News: Legislative Bill A8094A – Outdoor Rx Act

The Outdoor Rx Act for Veterans has been signed into Law.

This Bill “establishes the Outdoor Rx Act, which requires the Division of Veterans’ Services to review issues relating to veterans’ abilities to access state parks, lands and facilities; and provide for the repeal of such provisions upon the request thereof.”

This bill requires that; the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, the Department of Environmental Conservation, the Department of Health, and the Office of Mental Health, work in consultation with the New York State Division of Veterans’ Services relating to veterans abilities to access; state parks, lands, and facilities.

The underlying premise of this bill is that nature has been used for health improvements for centuries. Recent studies have increasing shown that time spent outdoors can be valuable therapy that benefit today’s veterans that suffer from such issues as PTSD, substance abuse and other health issues.  This legislation will work on the removal of barriers and lead the way to increase access to the outdoors on public  lands and encouraging  partnerships with private land owners. “The Outdoor Rx Act is step toward a more holistic approach to veteran’s services.”

Statement by Keith Tidball, NYSCC 1st VP:

“Outdoor Rx will lay the foundation for providing critical therapeutic and healing benefits for veterans in New York State who confront post-traumatic stress and other service-related trauma. My work and the work of colleagues has shown that time outdoors can be a valuable asset to traditional therapy. I look forward to working with the New York State Division of Veterans’ Services and other state agencies in the months ahead to examine how the state’s parks and public lands can be made more accessible to all veterans, and how these assets can contribute to effective alternative complementary medicine.” 

“On the order of 21 [U.S.] veterans commit suicide every single day, so when we’re talking about urgent biophilia and therapeutic outdoor recreation, and especially nature as a protective factor against veteran suicide, I think we’re onto something that’s very, very important.”

“By signing Outdoor Rx into law, Gov. Cuomo has made New York a leader among states in ensuring veterans can access the healing and restorative effects of the outdoors. A big thank you to Assemblymember Barrett and Senator Benjamin for their tireless work to pass this bill.”

This law shall take effect immediately and shall expire on December 31st 2022.

The New York State Conservation Council would like to express our appreciation to the veteran groups and all others that supported this legislation.

Chuck Parker

President, New York State Conservation Council

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