Finally. It looks like after more than a decade of scouting for the perfect eternal resting place for those who have served this country, the Department of Veterans Affairs has announced "it has executed a sales agreement to purchase land for a National Veterans Cemetery
in Southern Colorado," the office of Sen. Michael Bennet
, D-Colo., says in a press release.
That's good news, but we still don't know where it will be.
This effort dates back to the Rep. Joel Hefley
's days when he represented the 5th Congressional District of Colorado, which includes Colorado Springs from 1987 to 2007.
At one time, property southeast of Fountain
was chosen, but there were problems with water supply. Then the VA said "no," and looked at property off Highway 94. Then there was a Bradley Road parcel that came under consideration.
Bennet's news release says the VA next will "engage in the final steps to complete a formal property acquisition." We've asked his office when we can expect to find out the location chosen and will report back when we hear something.
"This welcome and long overdue news represents a significant step toward finally building a cemetery veterans in southern Colorado can call their own," Bennet said. “We're grateful to our troops, our veterans and our military families for everything they've done on behalf of our country. It's time we delivered on this promise."
The Pikes Peak area has one of the highest concentrations of veterans in the country, estimated at more than 100,000. This new cemetery will help ease demand for space at existing facilities while significantly reducing the cost and distance of travel for families of fallen soldiers. The new cemetery will also enable veterans who reside in Southern Colorado to be buried near the communities they call home.
Bennet led efforts in Washington to bring the cemetery to Southern Colorado. In March 2009, he introduced a bill with Senator Mark Udall to create a cemetery in El Paso County. The following year, he and then-Representative John Salazar met with Secretary for Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki to discuss the issue and shortly thereafter, the President’s FY2011 budget included language for establishing such a cemetery. In 2012, Bennet convened a meeting of the Southern Colorado Veterans Cemetery Committee to receive feedback on potential site locations.