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Public Statements

Letter to The Honorable Eric K. Shinseki, Secretary, Department of Veterans Affairs

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Colorado

U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and Mark Udall wrote a letter today to Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki encouraging the VA to continue to work with state, local and private partners to repurpose the Fort Lyon facility.

"We understand that you recently met with Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper to discuss the state's plans to keep Fort Lyon open as a residential vocational training facility," Udall and Bennet wrote in the letter. "As the Governor mentioned, it is likely that some of those who will benefit from the repurposing project will be unemployed and homeless veterans; as such, we hope that the collaboration between the state and the VA will continue. … We understand that no single agency can be expected to take on sole responsibility for repurposing Fort Lyon, but we do believe that the VA can play an important role in a solution that will benefit the entire Colorado community."

Bennet and Udall have pushed the Department of Veterans Affairs and other federal agencies to work toward keeping Fort Lyon, an important employer and economic driver in the region, open for business.

The full text of the letter is below:

Eric K. Shinseki
Secretary of Veterans Affairs
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20420

Dear Secretary Shinseki:

Over the course of the last year, you and many public servants from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) have assisted the state of Colorado and members of the Colorado congressional delegation in identifying viable options for the future utilization of the Fort Lyon prison complex in Bent County, Colorado. As you'll recall, control of the Fort Lyon facility was ceded to the state of Colorado by the VA under a long-term lease agreement in 2001. Unfortunately, recent budget shortfalls caused the state to close the penitentiary, and a multiagency working group has since been tasked with finding alternative uses for the complex.

We understand that you recently met with Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper to discuss the state's plans to keep Fort Lyon open as a residential vocational training facility. As the Governor mentioned, it is likely that some of those who will benefit from the repurposing project will be unemployed and homeless veterans; as such, we hope that the collaboration between the state and the VA will continue. The working group continues to seek financial and material support from a range of other partners including the private sector, nonprofit organizations, and federal, state, and local government agencies. We understand that no single agency can be expected to take on sole responsibility for repurposing Fort Lyon, but we do believe that the VA can play an important role in a solution that will benefit the entire Colorado community.

Again, thank you for your continued support of the Fort Lyon repurposing effort and for your many years of extraordinary service to our country.


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