Vanessa de la Viña
A group of war veterans sponsored by the Vet Voice Foundation is pushing for the Organ Mountains to be a designated national monument. The group is made up of veterans from various wars including Vietnam, Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan.
The group said this designation is important to preserve and protect the mountains for future generations.
“To have such a wonderful place so close to where we are, I mean I’m selfish. I wanna keep this for me. But I’m not totally selfish. What you see now is what the next and the next and the next generation can also have,” Vietnam veteran Peter Ossorio told ABC-7.
The vets said the mountains are full of rich history that makes them an ideal tool to teach future generations about their home state.”When you scar this landscape it doesn’t heal. This landscape bears marks of the conquistadors. It bears marks of the Native Americans,” Ossorio said.
“There’s a lot of history in these mountains. These are mountains that people like Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett and others have ridden in and there’s petroglyphs. There’s artifacts,” former state representative Nate Cote said.
Cote said having the mountains as a national monument would also help the local economy.
“It would attract more tourists, which would mean the creation of jobs and increase of dollars into our economy,” Cote said.
Ossorio said another benefit of protecting the mountains is to help soldiers returning from war.
“When I came back from Vietnam the first time, I probably had some post-traumatic stress disorder,” Ossorio said.
Ossorio said he was very sensitive to loud noises. His wife took him to a cabin isolated in nature that helped him recover. He said the Organ Mountains can do the same for other soldiers.
The group is working with members of Congress to get their proposal in front of President Obama. Cote said Congressman Martin Heinrich already sent a letter to the President requesting the designation.