RAPID CITY, S.D. (ASSOCIATED PRESS) – Members of South Dakota’s congressional delegation say they’re disappointed that the Department of Veterans Affairs is taking another step toward closing the VA campus in Hot Springs.
Sens. John Thune and Tim Johnson and Rep. Kristi Noem say Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki told them the VA is moving forward with an environmental impact study on closing the century-old historic Hot Springs facility and rebuilding facilities in Rapid City.
The VA says an economic analysis has shown that restructuring its facilities in western South Dakota would be cheaper and more efficient than trying to fix aging facilities in Hot Springs.
South Dakota officials question that and say it ignores the pleas of veterans who want a facility in Hot Springs.
Senator Johnson issued the following statement regarding the Department of Veteran’s Affairs decision regarding the future of the Black Hills Health Care System in Hot Springs. Johnson says he is disappointed in the VA’s decision. Over the past two years, the Save the VA group, local veterans, and the delegation have shared their concerns, raised important questions, and suggested alternatives. Unfortunately, the VA has decided, over the objections of the delegation and local veterans, to move forward on the path to restructure the Black Hills Health Care System.
Johnson says, “while (the) news is discouraging, this is a marathon, not a sprint. I encourage veterans and Hot Springs residents to fully engage in the EIS process. I will continue working to provide South Dakota’s and our nation’s veterans with quality, accessible health care.”