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Vet Voice Foundation Press Release




CONTACT:  L. Mark Starr MSW,, 310-699-8554

March 22, 2013






Bellingham, WA – The non-profit, non-partisan Vet Voice Foundation is today cheering the designation of the San Juan Islands as a national monument by President Obama, which is officially expected on Monday.  The veterans group had advocated and organized for the designation, which preserves the lands for this and future generations of Veterans in the Pacific Northwest.


“As veterans, we believe it is our shared responsibility to protect what makes America great, from a democratic government to public lands that are truly for the public. The islands are important for the recreational and educational opportunities they provide families, tourists and returning veterans,” said Rick Hegdahl, a Navy veteran from Operation Iraqi Freedom, who lives in Washington State. 


“In Washington State, the San Juan Islands are an important piece of the cultural heritage and our legacy to the next generation. This designation will guarantee that these lands, with their historic lighthouses, seaside trails and rocks and reefs with seals, sea lions, nesting bald eagles and falcons and seabirds, will be preserved for future generations to visit,” he added.  “We’re extremely appreciative of the work that Congressman Reichert and our delegation have done to make this designation a reality, and thank President Obama for taking this action which is so important to those of us in the region.”


The 1,000 acres of public land within the national monument include highly diverse and vibrant natural areas and wildlife habitat that provide breeding grounds for birds and safe refuges for everything from harbor seal pups to rare plants. Culturally important areas including ancient fishing sites and camas gardens that are important to Native Americans and historically important lighthouses on Patos Island and Turn Point now have permanent protection.

As the latest addition to our National Conservation Lands, this monument will ensure the local economy stays strong by protecting important cultural and historical areas and safeguarding the natural areas and recreational opportunities on the public lands in the San Juan Islands. 


Veterans returning from war often rely on these public lands to heal from the mental and physical toll of war.


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.