Veterans Call Out Senators Who Voted to Sell-Off Our Federal Lands

 ·  Vet Voice Foundation, Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A coalition of over 4,500 veterans from across the country today sent a letter to the 50 members of the U.S. Senate who recently voted in support of giving away America’s incredible system of national public lands. Over 4000 of those veterans are supporters of the Vet Voice Foundation, a non-partisan, non-profit organization that has been advocating for the protection of public lands.  The letter is a direct response to an amendment to the Senate budget resolution that supports efforts to sell off, transfer, or give away public lands. 

The letter, addressed to Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who is leading the charge in the Senate, to sell-off public lands, and 50 of her colleagues, states: 

Our country’s public lands stand as a physical representation of the ideals in our Constitutional Republic that we, as veterans of this country, went to war to defend. Thousands, if not millions, of returning veterans have found solace, peace, and healing on our public lands. . . 

...Whether it's climbing, hiking or just spending time reconnecting, America's public lands provide important opportunities to find new purpose and to enjoy the country we've given much to protect… 

. . .Selling off our lands is an unpatriotic act that stands in direct  violation of our country’s responsibility to provide resources and support to those of us coming home from war. We fought for the public good which these lands represent.

The full text of the letter is below. 

In response to these Senator’s actions, Garett Reppenhagen, US Army veteran and Rocky Mountain West Coordinator for the Vet Voice Foundation, released the following statement: 

“When I took an oath to protect our nation it extended to the lands I love. Our public lands are part of the United States identity. If states sell off these national treasures we lose the values that America stands for. “ 

Founded in 2009, the mission of Vet Voice Foundation is to mobilize veterans to become leaders in our nation's democracy through participation in the civic and democratic process. VVF seeks to harness the energy and drive of the dedicated men and women who have fought for their country, and put it to work at home and in their communities on the important issues they face, such as health care, jobs, the environment, and housing.


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An open Letter to the 51 Senators who voted to sell off our public lands: 

Our country's public lands stand as a physical representation of the ideals in our Constitutional Republic that we, as veterans of this country, went to war to defend. Thousands, if not millions, of returning veterans have found solace, peace, and healing on our public lands. These are our national parks and monuments, our national forests and wilderness areas, our vast open spaces and lands closer to home. America's system of public lands should be safeguarded, not dismantled. 

One year before the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service, we should be working to connect more Americans of all stripes to our natural heritage, not cutting them off from it. It has been said that the national parks are America's Best Idea. That idea extends beyond just the parks to the concept of a public estate owned by all Americans, open to all Americans, and managed for the benefit of all Americans. Public lands are worth fighting for, they are at the root of our very democracy. 

In an era when the United States is struggling to figure out how to take care of its veterans, access to public lands and outdoor recreation have been a constant support, not just for veterans, but their families as well.  Whether it's climbing, hiking or just spending time reconnecting, America's public lands provide important opportunities to find new purpose and to enjoy the country we've given much to protect.    

Selling off our lands is an unpatriotic act that stands in direct violation of our country's responsibility to provide resources and support to those of us coming home from war. We fought for the public good which these lands represent. 

Selling these public lands means removing them from the public trust, putting private interests ahead of the public good. The selling off of these public lands would curtail access for veterans and their families and close down opportunities for them, and other Americans, to participate in the $646 billion outdoor economy. Public lands are the beating heart of economies across the country. They are where people go to hunt, to fish, to hike, and to camp. This visitation creates and supports local businesses and opportunities for many, including us as veterans.  

Senator Murkowski, public lands give us places to work. They give us places to heal. They give us places to find community and reintegrate home. These are things needed not just by veterans, but by all Americans. We fought for them, everyone deserves them.

 

Sincerely,
[Over 4500 Signatures from Veterans]