Public News Service: Colorado Veterans Fight to Protect Public Lands
DENVER - While this Veterans Day recognizes men and women who have served the United States around the world, a group of veterans is working to protect the land here at home. Army veteran Garett Reppenhagen of Colorado Springs is a member of the Vet Voice Foundation and Rocky Mountain West coordinator for the group.
He'll travel to Washington next week to speak out about preserving the public lands he sees as vital to the country's quality of life. "They're the lands that I love, so when I swore an oath to defend the United States and the Constitution, that included the land and the legacy that we have," he declared.
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell recently offered her first agenda-setting statements on conservation. She said she's concerned that Congress has not passed any conservation bills in the last three years, and said she and the President are willing to work around Congress if it fails to act.
Tuesday, Vet Voice is to publish a poll of veterans in Western states on their opinions on parks and public lands issues. According to Reppenhagen, places like Colorado's Dinosaur National Monument and Browns Canyon give him and other veterans a chance to recuperate and spend time with their families. "I love the outdoors. Just getting into our public lands has helped me heal and survive basically, the traumas and rigors of my war experience," he said. "It's how I spend time with my friends and family."
Members of the Vet Voice Foundation, including Reppenhagen, will be in Washington on Nov. 18 to visit Congressmen and White House staff members. Secretary Jewell also said she's concerned about the government shutdown's negative effects on national parks, and emphasized the importance of fully funding the nation's Land and Water Conservation Fund.