The Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) commends the leadership of Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) and his lead co-sponsor, Adam Smith (D-WA) for the reintroduction of their bill, the Accelerating Veterans Recovery Outdoors Act, HR 2435. We are also grateful to Senators Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Daines(R-MT) for introducing the companion bill in the Senate.
The bill would set up an interagency task force to study how our National Parks and public lands can help restore and enhance the health of our veterans.
Through their leadership, Congressman Chris Smith and colleagues are following in the footsteps of Jesus, who knew full well about the restorative power of being in the natural world, as these Gospel verses make plain:
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:35). “Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him” (Luke 6:12-13). “Because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he [Jesus] said to them [his disciples], ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’ So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.” (Mark 6:31-32)
EEN is a strong supporter of our National Parks and public lands. As we study ways to help restore and enhance the health of our vets, let’s also take care of the $11 billion maintenance backlog at our National Parks to make their experience safer and more enjoyable.