Colorado Springs, Colo. -

While President Barack Obama was talking about the economy and stumping for Colorado Sen. Mark Udall at Denver's Cheesman Park on Wednesday, Gov. John Hickenlooper was in Colorado Springs at a veterans graduation ceremony.

Hickenlooper insisted he was not trying to distance himself from the president by not appearing with Mr. Obama in Denver.

"We didn't hear the president was in town until five days ago," Hickenlooper said. "Well, maybe 10 days ago. Still, we couldn't move this."

Hickenlooper said the Veterans In Piping event was on his schedule six weeks before he knew Obama was coming to Colorado.

14 veterans earned diplomas from an intensive 18 week pipefitting course. They will soon enter the Colorado workforce as welders, pipefitters and plumbers.

Sgt. James Wester is one of the graduates. He says this milestone is the start of a new chapter.

"Especially being a guy with a family at home, waiting on my support, and they need it," Wester said. "It's a golden opportunity."

Hickenlooper believes these gentlemen will show great leadership in their new jobs.

"They have risked our lives protecting us," Hickenlooper said. "They're going to become leaders in the workplace. Whatever jobs they find themselves in, they're going to add value to every company."

The Democrat said as long as he's in office one of his top priorities will be putting veterans like Sgt. Wester back to work.

"I'll definitely remember it for the rest of my life," Wester said. "This is one of the greatest accomplishments I've had."

Hickenlooper and Obama met privately for 90 minutes Tuesday night after Air Force One touched down in Denver.