U.S. Sens. John Thune and Mike Rounds, along with U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson, all R-S.D., issued statements after Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert Wilkie indicated the VA would begin the process to formally rescind its earlier record of decision to realign the VA Black Hills Health Care System, which would have significantly reduced services at the Hot Springs VA medical center.
“It is good to see that the VA is formally moving forward to deliver on Secretary Wilkie’s March 3, reassurances that the Hot Springs campus will remain open,” said Thune. “The fight to keep ‘The Veteran’s Town’ open began nearly 10 years ago when President Obama first announced plans to ‘realign’ the facility – a technical way of saying they wanted to close it. I’ve fought hard to keep pressure on the VA so the facility remains open, knowing how much it means not just to our veterans, but to the community as a whole. We told VA officials that once they visited Hot Springs, they would realize its true value and potential, which is why I was proud to help lead the effort that brought Secretary Wilkie to ‘The Veterans Town’ in March – a visit that I believe ultimately helped move this process along. I could not be more proud of the Hot Springs community for continuing to fight this long and tough battle.”
“The Hot Springs VA facility provides top-notch care to rural veterans across the region,” said Rounds. “While we’re still reviewing the action, this announcement is a positive step toward securing the campus as a place for veterans to receive these healthcare services in the years ahead. We’ll continue working with the VA to make sure it follows through on finalizing this decision to keep the Hot Springs VA campus open.”
“South Dakotans have been fighting for Hot Springs for a long time,” said Johnson. “Secretary Wilkie assured us in March the VA isn’t going anywhere. It’s encouraging to see the VA is rescinding any efforts to reduce services and I know our veterans will be relieved after years of uncertainty. This is a positive step and I’m willing and ready to work with the VA to ensure the Hot Springs facility remains intact.”