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Witness Testimony of Hon. Jeff Chostner, Colonel, USAF (Ret.), Pueblo County Board of Commissioners, Commissioner, Pueblo, CO

Board of Pueblo County Commissioners,'
Pueblo, CO.
May 1, 2008

The Honorable John J. Hall
U.S. House of Representatives
Committee on Veterans Affairs
335 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C.  20515

Dear Congressman Hall:

I am writing to you with regard to the location of a Veterans Cemetery in the Southern Colorado region.  I have been involved in this matter since 2003, as a former member of the Pueblo, Colorado City Council, Chairman of the Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee, President of the Air Force Association (Mel Harmon Chapter) and the American Legion.

In my view it is imperative that a new Veterans Cemetery established in Southern Colorado---by that, I mean in a location south of the City of Colorado Springs, and preferably in Pueblo County.  As you know the closest Veterans Cemetery is Ft. Logan National Cemetery, located in the Denver metro area.  This is a fine facility and one of which we are all proud.  However, it is my understanding that Ft. Logan is nearing capacity and there is a pressing need to establish another Veterans Cemetery, either as an adjunct to Ft. Logan or a new cemetery.  I have also been informed that there are different Veteran Administration regulations based on the status of the cemetery.  Under either criteria, however, we were dismayed to learn that the Veterans Administration has recommended a veterans cemetery between Colorado Springs and Denver.  None of the participants to the discussion of location envisioned a cemetery north of Colorado Springs; all believed it should be south of Colorado Springs.

I would urge that you review the current Veterans Administrations regulations regarding status of Veteran Cemeteries and how said status defines the geographical areas in which they may be placed.  In my view, the current regulations do not sufficiently take into account location of other existing veteran cemeteries and the ability of other concentrations of veterans to avail themselves of the right to burial in a national cemetery.

This discrepancy is most apparent in the matter before your sub-Committee, in that the next closest Veterans Cemetery is in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  The distance between Ft. Logan and the Santa Fe cemetery is approximately 400 miles.  Yet instead of proposing a cemetery that would either be more geographically central to the area, or closer for other veterans in region, the Veterans Administration recommends a new cemetery in close proximity to the existing one. While it will provide more capacity, it does not allow for more convenience or availability to the regions veterans.

I appreciate the opportunity to speak before the Committee, and look forward to discussing the matter further on May 2, 2008 in Colorado Springs.

Sincerely,

Colonel J. E. Chostner, USAF (Ret.)
Commissioner