Cemetery is the result of years of work between lawmakers, veterans, and local communities
Today, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet joined local veterans and stakeholders to visit the site of the future Southern Colorado Veterans Cemetery.
Following years of bipartisan work by Bennet, Senator Mark Udall, and Congressman Doug Lamborn, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced at the end of January that it had taken the final steps to secure a site for a new veterans cemetery in El Paso County. The Pikes Peak region has one of the highest concentrations of veterans in the country and nearby Pueblo, also known as the Home of Heroes, is home to four Congressional Medal of Honor recipients. Currently, the nearest cemetery for veterans and their families is more than 70 miles away. This new cemetery is expected to serve roughly 95,000 veterans.
“We have been working closely with the VA, veterans, and their families to establish this cemetery and provide those who have bravely fought for their country a final resting place closer to home,” Bennet said. “This region is home to one of the largest concentrations of veterans in the nation and it’s hard to imagine a better site for a cemetery to serve our nation’s heroes.”
Bennet, Udall, and Lamborn have worked for years to bring a national veterans cemetery to southern Colorado:
- In 2009, Bennet and Udall led legislation in the Senate to create a cemetery in southern Colorado. Lamborn led companion legislation in the House.
- In 2010, the President’s annual 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 VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, allowed the VA to build a cemetery in southern Colorado.
- In 2012, Bennet met with the Southern Colorado Veterans Cemetery Committee in Pueblo for an update on the project while the VA was considering eight potential sites 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.
- In January 2014, the VA announced it had closed the deal for the site. The new veteran’s cemetery will be constructed on 374 acres of land in El Paso County at a site known as Rolling Hills.