By George Bao July 1, 2016
California State Assemblyman Ed Chau Presents Annual State Park Pass to Alhambra Constituent
MONTEREY PARK – A local resident and veteran was awarded Friday for his advocacy on a bill that allows disabled veterans to receive the Distinguished Veteran Pass, regardless of whether the disability is related to military service during wartime or peacetime.
Assemblyman Ed Chau (D–Monterey Park) presented to local constituent and veteran, Peter Aston, with a California Explorer Vehicle Day Use Annual Pass that was donated by the California State Parks Foundation for what he has contributed in his advocacy in AB 1972, which would allow disabled veterans to receive the Distinguished Veteran Pass.
“While we can never properly thank members of our military for all they have done, I believe that we should honor those who were disabled during their time of service by granting them access to our beautiful state parks at no cost,” said Assemblyman Ed Chau.
“I want to thank Peter Aston for bringing this issue to my attention and look forward to helping all other veterans like him with the passage of this legislation.”
The California State Parks currently offers the Distinguished Veteran Pass, which is a special and free lifetime pass for qualifying veterans, to use all basic facilities in state parks at no charge.
In order to qualify for the Distinguished Veteran Pass, one must be an honorably discharged war veteran who is a resident of California with a 50% or more service-connected disability, or was held captive as a prisoner of war, or recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor.
However, veterans who served during peacetime and who have a 50% or more service-connected disability do not meet the statutory requirements, and are therefore ineligible for the Distinguished Veterans Pass. This can include veterans whose disability resulted from accidents involving military training activities.
Constituent and military veteran, Peter Aston, served from 1981 to 1986 and was disabled while serving during peace time. He was denied the Distinguished Veteran Pass, because he did not meet the qualifications under current law and brought his concerns to the attention of Assemblymember Chau.
Assemblymember Chau authored AB 1972, which would allow veterans with over a 50% service-connected disability, and who were honorably discharged, to receive a free lifetime Distinguished Veteran Pass to allow them entry into the state park system, regardless of whether or not they served during a war or conflict recognized by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.
Upon introduction of AB 1972, the California State Parks Foundation heard Mr. Aston’s story and wanted to thank him for his service by donating a park pass, as AB 1972 continues to move through the State Legislature.