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Witness Testimony of Bud Sailar, El Paso County, CO, Veteran and Military Affairs, Director

Good afternoon Congressmen.  My name is Bud Sailar and I am the Director of Veteran and Military Affairs for El Paso County, Colorado.

I thank you for the opportunity to testify and present the views of our local veterans and their concerns.  Like many, we consider the National Cemeteries as memorials to veterans who preserved our freedom.

The future Veteran demographics for Colorado will show that the Pikes Peak Region, with its six military installations are producing Veterans at a much faster rate than the remainder of Colorado, where only one small Air Force Base exists.  Fort Carson, which is the army’s most popular station of choice, is alone on track to grow to a military population over 30,000 soldiers.  And when many, if not most of these local military complete their service, they remain in the area, which further accelerates the growth of the Veteran population here.  We also find that a large number of military who were once stationed here, return here after military retirement.  In short, our veteran population is growing at a much faster rate than the remainder of Colorado.

Additionally, we find it interesting and somewhat incongruous that our large active-duty military population is not counted in the Veteran population numbers used to determine populations served by National Veterans Cemeteries.  This is especially telling since approximately 400 of our local military have given their lives during the Global War on Terror.  While some of these brave Americans were buried in their home town, many of them have been buried or inurned in our local civilian cemeteries.  These active duty Americans need to be counted, and properly served by a National Veterans Cemetery in the Pikes Peak Region.

Presently, over 100 burials per week are taking place at Fort Logan.  During the next 22 years, according to VA data, there will be over 40,000 veteran deaths in the Southern Colorado area.  Many of these veterans will not be honored in a National Cemetery because during the same 22 years, there will be over 90,000 veteran deaths in the Denver area alone.  This will more than tax the cemetery at Fort Logan.