10th Mountain veteran: Passing CORE Act would honor military veterans
As a 10th Mountain Division veteran, preserving Camp Hale has significant personal meaning to me. Camp Hale was established in 1942 as a mountain warfare training facility for skiing, rock climbing and cold weather survival skills during World War II. Combat troops trained there specifically for alpine and high-altitude conditions, and their mountaineering and skiing skills ultimately helped drive the German army out of the Alps of northern Italy.
For me, I was deployed in Afghanistan from April 2006-April 2007, and like many veterans, I returned home a changed person. Having vast outdoor places to reconnect with family and friends and find strength and solitude is crucial for many service members returning home. Camp Hale provides that to veterans. It is not just a place where soldiers trained, but it is surrounded by a natural canvas of mountains, wildlife, and rivers that offers a place for veterans to readjust when coming back into civilian life.
The story of the 10th Mountain Division veterans is inspiring. Many of the soldiers who trained at Camp Hale returned home and founded Colorado’s world-renowned ski industry, including Vail, Aspen and other resorts.
Their contribution created a lasting and ever-growing outdoor recreation industry that makes Colorado one of the best places to live, work and visit. But don’t just take my word for it: In 2017, Colorado Parks and Wildlife found that outdoor recreation contributed $62 billion to Colorado’s economy and $35 billion to the state’s Gross Domestic Product (which is more than 10 percent) while supporting 511,000 direct jobs.
When I decided to serve my country, I did so because I am proud of our way of life and what it means to be an American. I believe in our local communities, creating jobs, and preserving our purple mountain majesties. That is why I support conserving Camp Hale as part of the CORE Act.
The CORE Act would do much more than create our country’s first “National Historic Landscape.” It would designate over 70,000 acres of wilderness within the Continental Divide and San Juan Mountains. It would preserve access to favorite mountain biking trails and snowmobiling routes by establishing recreation management areas. It would ensure no future oil, gas, or mining development could occur within the Thompson Divide. And it would officially designate the Curecanti National Recreation Area as a unit of the National Park System.
Since many of these proposals have been stalled in Congress for years, over time diverse stakeholders have formed coalitions in support of protecting these places. These stakeholders include small business owners, local elected officials and municipalities, hunters and anglers, ranchers, mountain bikers, veterans like me, and other community members.
Unfortunately, we are running out of time to honor the original 10th Mountain Division Veterans while they are still with us. It is important that Congress passes the CORE Act this year.
That is why I am urging Sen. Cory Gardner and U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton to stand with some of the last 10th Mountain Division veterans and newer ones like me in honoring our service and our contributions to society.
On his website, Sen. Gardner praises Colorado’s military installations and vows to protect our state’s bases. Furthermore, his website states, “We must also ensure that our commitment to our men and women in uniform goes beyond active service. Colorado is home to over 400,000 veterans, and there isn’t a more important mission of our federal government than to provide for those who served our country in uniform. We must uphold our commitments to our veterans and ensure they are receiving the care they need and deserve.”
I agree, Senator. And part of that care is preserving our great outdoors, which veterans depend upon and fought to protect. It is time for Sen. Gardner and Rep. Tipton to join Sen. Michael Bennet and Rep. Joe Neguse in supporting the CORE Act.
Bradley Noone is a 10th Mountain Division veteran who served in Afghanistan. He is now the operations manager for Golden River Sports in Golden. Email him at email@example.com