February 18, 2015

Veterans: Thank you for Making Browns Canyon a National Monument

DENVER – Colorado veterans today expressed gratitude for President Obama’s protection of Browns Canyon as a national monument via the Antiquities Act, and asserted the importance of the site to America’s veterans and military families. 

“Spending time in Browns Canyon and other public lands was a critical part of my transition back to civilian life after the stress of serving in Iraq,” said Garett Reppenhagen, a former U.S. Army sniper and Rocky Mountain Coordinator for Vet Voice Foundation. “Veterans in central Colorado depend on Browns Canyon for the solitude and experiences that help us recover from what we endured abroad and reintegrate into our lives at home.”  

Since it is located near several U.S. military bases, including Ft. Carson and the U.S. Air Force Academy, permanently protecting Browns Canyon as a National Monument ensures that service members and veterans have access to the outdoors, can heal from the trauma of war, and reconnect with family. The area is a national treasure, providing critical wildlife habitat, premiere trout fishing and year-round opportunities for outdoor recreation. 

“Today the president fulfilled his duty to protect our most cherished places for all the Americans, just as millions of veterans like me fulfilled our duty to defending our country,” said Lee Hunnicutt, a Chaffee County veteran. “We are grateful that President Obama heard local veterans and other community members advocating for national monument status for Browns Canyon, an important place of healing and growth.” 

Legislation to protect Browns Canyon on the Arkansas River had been introduced in Congress by members of both political parties for more than a decade but failed to move despite extensive community involvement, including public meetings and thousands of public comments from a broad cross-section of veteran groups, local businesses, elected officials, outdoor outfitters and sportsmen. 

The Vet Voice Foundation sent emails and contacted elected officials to express their support for the proposal to make the designation. 

“I am proud to see the President respond directly to our local elected leaders, vets, and other community leaders who have been calling for action to protect Browns Canyon for years,” said Reppenhagen. “Ideologues in Congress would have preferred to stall the conservation of our heritage for another decade – but local veterans, sportsmen, small business owners and our families would have paid the price.” 

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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