Veterans Rally for Browns Canyon National Monument
Salida, CO – The non-partisan Vet Voice Foundation joined an estimated 500 people who turned out for a meeting in Salida, Colorado to support Browns Canyon as the next national monument. Five military veterans had the opportunity to have their opinions heard by Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet, U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell, Bureau of Land Management Deputy Director Steve Ellis and Colorado Department of Natural Resources Deputy Director Bob Randall.
In addition to the veterans who spoke there were many more veterans, service members and military family members who attended and urged the President to use executive order, under the Antiquities Act, to protect Browns Canyon. Every president but one since the passing of the Antiquities Act of 1906, by war veteran and conservationist Teddy Roosevelt, has used the act to create national monuments.
Iraq veteran Gary Reppenhagen, said Browns Canyon is a place where veterans can go to alleviate the effects of war, such as post-traumatic stress disorder. He said the proximity to Fort Carson, Peterson Air Force Base and the Air Force Academy makes it an ideal place for veterans to go that is away from the distractions that come with living in a populated area.
Grant Wideman, Air Force veteran, explained that healing from war trauma in the outdoors works. He told the audience that we should not destroy our wilderness through development.
“When I look at the beauty nature provides, I do not see dollar signs,” he said.
However, according to local rafting companies and outfitters, the rafting industry alone brought in over $55 million in 2013. That does not include support in small business for the growing outdoor recreation interest.
“It proves that you can still value and preserve the lands we love and support the economy,” said Vet Voice’s Reppenhagen. “Our veterans will continue to push to create Browns Canyon National Monument to protect the region for veterans to heal and share with their friends and family for generation to come.”