Press Release Apr 20, 2022

Veterans Lead the Way in Protecting National Parks with Launch of Parks Group’s Veterans Council

"With the launch of the Veterans Council, we will further elevate our veterans as essential partners in our work to safeguard some of our country’s most treasured places.” - Theresa Pierno, NPCA's President and CEO

Washington, DC – Today, the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) launched its new Veterans Council, a diverse group of thirteen veteran leaders who will lend unique advice, perspective, skills and voices to advance NPCA’s policies and campaigns that protect national parks. The council represents veterans from across the country with a wide range of professional and military backgrounds. Together, the Council and NPCA will identify and advance priorities for our national parks, such as ensuring parks are prepared to combat climate change threats and have the funding they need to thrive for generations to come.

“NPCA is incredibly grateful to all those who have served and defended the freedoms we hold so dear in this country,” said Theresa Pierno, President and CEO, National Parks Conservation Association. “Veterans have a special relationship with our national parks. Whether at Gettysburg, the site of one of the most consequential battles in American history, or at Yosemite, where Buffalo Soldiers served as some of the park’s first rangers, all of our parks reflect the American values and ideals they fought to protect. Over the years, NPCA and our veteran partners have constructed bridges at Biscayne, cleared trails at Mount Rainier and spoke up on behalf of our national parks before Congress. And with the launch of the Veterans Council, we will further elevate our veterans as essential partners in our work to safeguard some of our country’s most treasured places.”

The fight for our freedom, democracy and very way of life are told through our parks. In fact, national parks commemorate and interpret military history at more than 150 different sites. In order for our national parks to grow stronger in their second century, it is vital that everyone see themselves reflected in these beautiful places, including those who have put their life on the line to protect them. Protecting our national parks means preserving and expanding these important military stories and the many other stories our parks tell that resonate with veterans and their families.

For years, NPCA has offered programming in national parks for veterans and their families. Whether restoring native plants in Santa Monica Mountains, supporting hurricane recovery at Dry Tortugas, building new trails at Ebey’s Landing, removing fencing around Yellowstone to allow pronghorns to migrate freely, participating in civic engagement activities in New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park, marching in New York City Pride or flying to Washington, D.C., to meet with members of Congress, NPCA’s programs have provided veterans with opportunities to continue serving their country while gaining knowledge and a sense of camaraderie. And with the launch of the Council, NPCA looks to further build on this work with veterans leading the way.

The Veterans Council brings together veteran leaders with diverse backgrounds from across the country to provide advice and perspective on NPCA’s veteran engagement strategy. The Council is led by Capt. Chris Marvin, a former Black Hawk helicopter pilot and medically-retired U.S. Army officer.

“I served my country in combat. As a veteran, I view America’s national parks as a tangible representation of what I fought for,” said Chris Marvin, a combat-wounded veteran of the war in Afghanistan. “NPCA knows that veterans are respected by the American people for their service, and they will be powerful, credible messengers on issues pertaining to the protection and enhancement of national parks. The unique relationship veterans have with the national parks is motivated by their love of country and a desire to share the legacy of the country they fought for in uniform. NPCA understands this connection and is working to make it even stronger.”

Council members include:

  • Erick Andino, U.S. Navy veteran from California
  • Stacy Bare, U.S. Army veteran from Michigan
  • Erica Carroll, U.S. Air Force veteran from Alaska
  • Richard Diaz, U.S. Army veteran from Texas
  • Phillip Howard, U.S. Marine Corps & Air Force veteran from Alabama
  • Allison Jaslow, U.S. Army veteran from North Carolina
  • SSgt. Patrick Ketchum, U.S. Army, retired, from California
  • Dom Mullins, U.S. Army veteran from New York
  • Yaritza Perez, U.S. Marine Corps veteran from Florida
  • Nicole Rawlinson, U.S. Navy spouse from Virginia
  • Blayne Smith, U.S. Army veteran from Florida
  • Tom Voss, U.S. Army veteran from California
  • Aaron Wolf, U.S. Marine Corps veteran from North Carolina

For more information about NPCA’s Veterans Council, visit:


About National Parks Conservation Association: Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than 1.6 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit