New park passes offered for Nassau veterans

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For $25, Nassau veterans can get a new Lifetime Leisure Passport to the county's recreational facilities, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano announced Wednesday.

Active duty military, their spouse and children can get the pass benefits free with military identification, Mangano said.

"It is my hope that we see many more veterans and military families enjoying our parks, golf courses, and all that we have to offer recreationally in the months and years to come," Mangano said in a news release.

The regular, nonveterans pass costs $25 but must be renewed every three years.

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The veterans pass will provide the best possible discount -- which is the same as the senior rate -- to enter pools, skating rinks, golf courses, tennis courts, beaches, marinas and cabanas operated by the Nassau County Department of Parks, Recreation and Museums.

"It's a step in the right direction," said Eric Farina, who served as an Army National Guardsman in Afghanistan and is president of the Long Island Veterans Initiative based at Farmingdale State College. "But so much more needs to be done, like filling the gaps between existing veteran services and what is needed, like transportation."

Farina said his organization provides transportation for veterans, but the person must request the service at least two weeks in advance. "We could do better than that with more funding or if the counties would provide transportation."

John Javis, a former Army reservist who runs the Vets2Vets project in Hempstead, said Mangano's announcement was "great news. . . . That fits in well with our program. We encourage our veterans to do physical things."

Kevin Palacios, 25, of Glen Cove, a Marine Corps veteran with a Purple Heart who had two tours in Afghanistan before leaving the service in 2012, said: "Of course, this pass is a good thing. I'll certainly get mine and tell my veteran friends about it, too."

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