February 24, 2015

Vet Voice Foundation encourages U.S. Senator Murkowski to tone down rhetoric, support President's budget for public lands

WASHINGTON, DC – The nonprofit Vet Voice Foundation, a nonprofit national veteran’s organization, today called on U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski and other members of the U.S. Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee to support the President’s proposed investments in America’s public lands for fiscal year 2016, citing benefits to veterans and their families. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is this morning testifying before the committee in a budget hearing chaired by Senator Murkowski, with whom she’s recently disagreed about energy and conservation issues. 

“The Vet Voice Foundation sincerely hopes that Senator Murkowski will find better ways to express herself in Tuesday’s hearing than making overblown and inappropriate claims about the Administration's ‘war on Alaska,’ as she did late last month. As veterans who have seen first-hand the horrors of war, we see no reason for politicians on either side of the aisle to use the terminology of combat and war in a debate about energy development or critical protections for America’s public lands,” said Garett Reppenhagen, a former U.S. Army sniper and Rocky Mountain Coordinator for Vet Voice Foundation. 

Sen. Murkowski has objected to the President’s proposal to Congress that it protect Wilderness in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Most recently, Sen. Murkowski has threatened to withhold funding for the U.S. Interior Department, which employs park rangers, scientists and others that protect national parks and monuments in Alaska and nationwide. “Well, if budgets are reduced and people lose their jobs, then that is an outcome,” Murkowski said last week

“Holding hostage funding for public lands is political folly. Policy-makers in Washington should be collaborating to conserve our national heritage, given the importance of America’s parks and public lands to the health and recovery of our returning heroes,” Reppenhagen added. 

Polling by the Vet Voice Foundation has demonstrated strong support among veterans for funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which uses fees paid by oil and gas companies drilling offshore to protect national parks, forests and state and local parks. In November, the Vet Voice Foundation and partners held an event at Prince William Forest Park in Northern Virginia, which was protected by the Land and Water Conservation Fund, to highlight the importance of the Fund to veterans. The President’s FY16 budget proposes full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

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Founded in 2009, the mission of Vet Voice Foundation is to mobilize veterans to become leaders in our nation's democracy through participation in the civic and democratic process. VVF seeks to harness the energy and drive of the dedicated men and women who have fought for their country, and put it to work at home and in their communities on the important issues they face, such as health care, jobs, the environment, and housing.

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