Additional Resources

Veterans, Gold Star Families Get Free Entrance to National Parks, Refuges, Other Public Lands

Event Date: November 11, 2020 - December 31, 2025

Veterans and Gold Star Families will be granted free access to national parks, wildlife refuges and other Federal lands managed by the Department of the Interior starting on Veterans Day this year and every day onward. “With the utmost respect and gratitude, we are granting Veterans and Gold Star Families free access to the iconic and treasured lands they fought to protect starting this Veterans Day and every single day thereafter,” said Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt. Entrance fees for the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and standard amenity recreation fees for the Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Reclamation sites will be waived for Veterans and Gold Star Families. They will have free access to approximately 2,000 public locations spread out across more than 400 million acres of public lands, which host activities to fit any lifestyle, from serene to high octane, including hiking, fishing, paddling, biking, hunting, stargazing and climbing. Many Department managed lands have direct connections to the American military, such as frontier forts, Cold War sites, battlefields, national cemeteries, and memorials. These special places pay tribute to our veterans and serve as reminders of their courage and sacrifice throughout the history of our nation, from Minuteman National Historic Park where colonists stood in defense of their rights, to Yellowstone National Park, which was protected from vandalism and poaching by the 1st U.S. Cavalry before the National Park Service was established, to Mount Rushmore where modern warriors attend reenlistment ceremonies. Details on program For purposes of this program, a Veteran is identified as an individual who has served in the United States Armed Forces, including the National Guard and Reserves, and is able to present one of the following forms of identification: Gold Star Families are next of kin of a member of the United States Armed Forces who lost his or her life in a “qualifying situation,” such as a war, an international terrorist attack, or a military operation outside of the United States while serving with the United States Armed Forces. The Interagency America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass Program already includes a free annual pass for active duty members of the U.S. Military and their dependents. Other free or discounted passes are available for persons with permanent disabilities, fourth grade students, volunteers, and senior citizens age 62 years or older. The Department also offers free entrance days for everyone throughout the year to mark days of celebration and commemoration including the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., National Public Lands Day, Veterans Day, and the signing of the Great American Outdoors Act.  

Why Breathing Is So Effective at Reducing Stress

Event Date: June 16, 2022 - December 31, 2030

Harvard Business Review Personal Productivity Research: Why Breathing Is So Effective at Reducing Stress by Emma Seppala, Christina Bradley, and Michael R. Goldstein September 29, 2020 Illustration by Giulia Neri When U.S. Marine Corp Officer Jake D.'s vehicle drove over an explosive device in Afghanistan, he looked down to see his legs almost completely severed below the knee. At that moment, he remembered a breathing exercise he had learned in a book for young officers. Thanks to that exercise, he was able to stay calm enough to check on his men, give orders to call for help, tourniquet his own legs, and remember to prop them up before falling unconscious. Later, he was told that had he not done so, he would have bled to death. If a simple breathing exercise could help Jake under such extreme duress, similar techniques can certainly help the rest of us with our more common workplace stresses. The combination of the Covid-19 pandemic and battles for social justice have only exacerbated the anxiety that many of us feel every day, and studies show that this stress is interfering with our ability to do our best work. But with the right breathing exercises, you can learn to handle your stress and manage negative emotions. In two recently published studies, we explored several different techniques and found that a breathing exercise was most effective for both immediate and long-term stress reduction. In the first study run by our research team at Yale, we evaluated the impact of three wellbeing interventions: • Breathing Exercises: in our experiments, we measured the impact of a particular program, SKY Breath Meditation, which is a comprehensive series of breathing and meditation exercises learned over several days that is designed to induce calm and resilience. • Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction: a meditation technique in which you train yourself to be aware of each moment in a non-judgmental way. • Foundations of Emotional Intelligence: a program that teaches techniques to improve emotional awareness and regulation. Participants were randomly assigned to one of the three programs or to a control group (no intervention). We found that the participants who practiced SKY Breath Meditation experienced the greatest mental health, social connectedness, positive emotions, stress levels, depression, and mindfulness benefits. In a second study, conducted at the University of Arizona, SKY Breath Meditation was compared to a workshop that taught more conventional, cognitive strategies for stress-management (in other words, how to change your thoughts about stress). Both workshops were rated similarly by participants and they both produced significant increases in social connectedness. However, SKY Breathing was more beneficial in terms of immediate impact on stress, mood, and conscientiousness, and these effects were even stronger when measured three months later. Before and after the workshops, participants underwent a stress task that simulated a high-pressure performance situation, akin to presenting at a business meeting. In anticipation of the stressful performance, the group that had completed the cognitive workshop showed elevated breathing and heart rates, as expected. In contrast, the SKY Breathing group held steady in terms of breathing and heart rate, suggesting the program had instilled in them a buffer against the anxiety typically associated with anticipating a stressful situation. This meant that they were not only in a more positive emotional state, but also that they were more able to think clearly and effectively perform the task at hand. Similarly, in a study with veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan who struggled with trauma, we found that not only did SKY Breath Meditation normalize their anxiety levels after just one week, but they also continued to experience the mental health benefits a full year later. So what makes breathing so effective? It's very difficult to talk your way out of strong emotions like stress, anxiety, or anger. Just think about how ineffective it is when a colleague tells you to "calm down" in a moment of extreme stress. When we are in a highly stressed state, our prefrontal cortex - the part of our brain responsible for rational thinking - is impaired, so logic seldom helps to regain control. This can make it hard to think straight or be emotionally intelligent with your team. But with breathing techniques, it is possible to gain some mastery over your mind. Research shows that different emotions are associated with different forms of breathing, and so changing how we breathe can change how we feel. For example, when you feel joy, your breathing will be regular, deep and slow. If you feel anxious or angry, your breathing will be irregular, short, fast, and shallow. When you follow breathing patterns associated with different emotions, you'll actually begin to feel those corresponding emotions. How does this work? Changing the rhythm of your breath can signal relaxation, slowing your heart rate and stimulating the vagus nerve, which runs from the brain stem to the abdomen, and is part of the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the body's "rest and digest" activities (in contrast to the sympathetic nervous system, which regulates many of our "fight or flight" responses). Triggering your parasympathetic nervous system helps you start to calm down. You feel better. And your ability to think rationally returns. To get an idea of how breathing can calm you down, try changing the ratio of your inhale to exhale. This approach is one of several common practices that use breathing to reduce stress. When you inhale, your heart rate speeds up. When you exhale, it slows down. Breathing in for a count of four and out for a count of eight for just a few minutes can start to calm your nervous system. Remember: when you feel agitated, lengthen your exhales. While a short breathing exercise like this can be effective in the moment, a comprehensive daily breathing protocol such as the SKY Breath Meditation technique will train your nervous system for resilience over the long run. These simple techniques can help you sustain greater wellbeing and lower your stress levels - at work and beyond. Emma Seppala, PhD, is a faculty member at the Yale School of Management, faculty director of the Yale School of Management's Women's Leadership Program and author of The Happiness Track. She is also science director of Stanford University's Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education. Follow her work at, on Instagram or Twitter. Christina Bradley is a doctoral student in the Management & Organizations department at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business. Her research focuses on how to talk about emotions at work. Michael R. Goldstein, Ph.D., is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School. He is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and his research examines the physiological mechanisms of mind-body interventions for insomnia.

Vet Tix provides free event tickets to Veterans of all eras

Event Date: June 16, 2022 - December 31, 2025

Attending live events, such as concerts, sports, performing arts and family themed events is how many of us relax with entertainment. These experiences are especially significant to Veterans and those who serve our country in uniform. Quite often, our Veterans and service members have missed out on various life events, such as birthdays, anniversaries and holidays with family and friends. Those are experiences that we can’t get back, however we quite often commit to making up for it when we’re back with our loved ones. Vet Tix is open to Veterans of all eras Vet Tix is a national nonprofit organization that provides free event tickets to give something to those who gave. Vet Tix supports Veterans and service members by honoring their service and providing positive family and life experiences during and after their years of service to our country, delivering experiences to last a lifetime.  Becoming a member is free; to join, one just has to be a Veteran (all eras), a member of the military, or the immediate family member of a service member who was killed in the line of duty. The cost of attending live entertainment events can range anywhere from over $200- $500 for a family or four, making these All-American events far too expensive for many of the families to attend. Vet Tix receives donated tickets from professional and collegiate sports teams, concert and performing arts venues, artists/performers, private donors who aren’t going to use their tickets, entertainment promoters from motor sports, rodeos, festivals and more. It receives tickets to many major concert tours, performing arts such as Hamilton, and even major sporting events such as the NFL Super Bowl. Giving something to those who gave Created in 2008 by U.S. Navy Veteran Michael Focareto III, Vet Tix has distributed over 12 million tickets to over 140,000 events throughout the United States. “Vet Tix is able to continue to achieve our mission of ‘giving something to those who gave,’ due of the generosity of or amazing donors. We’re grateful for their continued support,” Focareto said. The ticket to the rest of your life Vet Tix has received over 769,000 testimonials from its members, referred to as VetTixers who share their experiences by thanking the over 30,000 donors for creating lifelong memories.  Quite often, they’ve shared their stories of success in addressing personal challenges through attending events provided by Vet Tix. “People don’t realize that this is truly more than a ticket to an event, it’s a ticket to the rest of our life,” said Adrienne, a U.S. Army Veteran. Join Vet Tix today Thousands of Veterans who are registered with VA are enjoying the experiences and opportunities Vet Tix provides. To become a VetTixer, create an account for free at Once your status is verified through Vet Tix and VA’s verification portal,, you, too, can experience events through Vet Tix with friends and family. Tickets are free, however there is a nominal delivery fee. If you’re a caregiver of a Veteran, have them sign up; many VetTixers bring their caregivers to events through Vet Tix as a way to thank them for what they do.