Bennet: Naming Process Begins for New VA Cemetery in Southern Colorado

The cemetery is the product of years of bipartisan work with local veterans

Washington, DC - Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet is urging Colorado veterans to submit suggested names to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), as they have announced the formal naming process has begun for the new VA national cemetery in southern Colorado. Bennet has worked for 6 years to establish the 374-acre cemetery which will serve roughly 95,000 veterans. Currently, the nearest cemetery for veterans and their families is more than 70 miles away.

"The veteran and military community has been working for years toward a new national VA cemetery in southern Colorado. We're happy to be part of those efforts and excited that the naming process has begun," Bennet said. "The Pikes Peak region has one of the highest concentrations of veterans in the country, and now local veterans and their families will be able to bury their loved ones closer to home. Veterans should submit their recommendations to the VA over the next few months. It should reflect the proud history of southern Colorado."

The VA announced it will send formal letters to local veterans and the military community so that suggestions for names may be submitted during the following 60 days. It will compile a list of suggested names that comply with VA guidance for naming new national cemeteries. The Interim Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs will then submit a recommended name to the Secretary, who has the final responsibility for naming new national cemeteries.

In general, names for VA national cemeteries must first and foremost help to nationally identify the location, while also having broad appeal to the veteran population, and provide a positive impression through its relation to history, region, community, or other notable geographic features.

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 then-Senator 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.

This will be the third VA national cemetery in Colorado.

Questions or concerns can be submitted to Glenn Madderom, Chief of the Cemetery Development and Improvement Service at glenn.madderom@va.gov or 317-916-3797.