STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS -- (Senate - March 25, 2009)
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By Mr. BENNET (for himself and Mr. Udall of Colorado):
S. 691. A bill to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a national cemetery for veterans in southern Colorado region, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.
Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Mr. President, I am proud to join today with my colleague and fellow Coloradan Senator Michael Bennet in introducing legislation to create a national veterans' cemetery in El Paso County, CO, and provide a respectful final resting place that our Colorado veterans so deserve.
In a few months, we will honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice in defending our Nation, as we celebrate Memorial Day weekend. On that weekend, friends and family members of our departed veterans will go to Veterans Affairs, VA, cemeteries throughout the country to honor the memory of their loved ones. Unfortunately, too many family members will have to travel far too many miles to pay their respects. Even worse, the long distance that some veterans' survivors must travel will prevent them from making the trip at all.
This is true of the loved ones of veterans in southern Colorado, whose population features one of the highest concentrations of veterans in the Nation. The vast majority of veterans in southern Colorado are located far outside of a 75-mile radius of the nearest VA cemeteries, Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver and Fort Lyon National Cemetery in Bent County.
For nearly a decade, it has been a goal of the Pikes Peak Veterans Cemetery Committee, as well as the Department of Colorado Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Colorado chapters of the American Legion, the Paralyzed Veterans of America, and the Association for Service Disabled Veterans, to bring a national cemetery to El Paso County. In the last Congress, Representative John Salazar introduced legislation that would address this issue, and I supported that legislation along with other members of the Colorado delegation.
That bill, H.R. 1660, passed the House of Representatives unanimously by voice vote, highlighting the support southern Colorado veterans have received from the entire Nation for the establishment of a VA cemetery in El Paso County. Unfortunately, the Senate did not act on this bill in the last Congress.
I hope--and I know that veterans throughout Colorado hope--that this year will be different. Representative Salazar has again introduced a House bill, and today we introduce the Senate companion. Senator Bennet and I will work hard to raise awareness of the need for a new national cemetery for southern Colorado and get this bill passed in the Senate. We need to ensure that all of our veterans receive the recognition they deserve with a final resting place close to their own communities.
Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the Record.
There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the Record as follows:
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