Senate Approves Funding for Bennet-Backed Military, Veterans Projects

$36 Million for Veterans Cemetery, Funding for Fort Carson Readiness Center Included in Appropriations Bill

Washington, D.C. - The Senate today passed the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs appropriations bill with funding requested by Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet for two important projects in the Pikes Peak region.

The bill includes $36 million for the Pikes Peak National Cemetery in southern Colorado. Bennet has worked for more than six years to establish the 374-acre cemetery that will serve roughly 95,000 veterans. Currently, the nearest cemetery for veterans and their families is more than 70 miles away.

It also includes $16.5 million for Army National Guard projects identified in the Army's emerging requirements list for Fiscal Year 2017. The National Guard Readiness Center at Fort Carson is a top priority on that list.

Bennet requested funding for these accounts to ensure Colorado priorities like the veterans cemetery and the National Guard Readiness Center could be funded.

"Colorado's military installations like Fort Carson are crucial to our country's national security," Bennet said. "We fought for this funding to ensure the National Guard Readiness Center at the base could move forward. The funding we secured for the Pikes Peak National Cemetery will help keep construction on track to serve the thousands of veterans in southern Colorado."

Bennet worked with former Senator Mark Udall and Congressman Doug Lamborn to bring a national cemetery to southern Colorado. In 2009, he sponsored legislation with Udall to create the cemetery, and in 2010 the President's budget request included language that reduced the population threshold used to determine where new national veterans cemeteries could be built from 170,000 to 80,000 veterans living within 75 miles of a potential site. This language, which followed a meeting Bennet held with then-VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, allowed the VA to build a cemetery in southern Colorado.

In October 2013, following a rigorous review process that included public meetings and a public comment period, the VA announced it had agreed to purchase land for this preferred site in Colorado Springs. Earlier this month, the VA announced the cemetery would be named the Pikes Peak National Cemetery based on its location and suggestions from local veterans and community leaders. This will be the third VA national cemetery in Colorado.