U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) today commented on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA’s) release of its draft environmental impact statement (EIS) with respect to the Black Hills Health Care System and the veterans facility in Hot Springs, South Dakota. The draft EIS is now open to a 60-day public comment period prior to a final EIS and decision that will be made by VA Secretary Robert McDonald.
“My primary concern remains what is best for our veterans,” said Thune. “Hot Springs is a special place of healing built around the veterans’ community. As I continue to review this extensive draft EIS, I will compare the analysis to what I have heard from the men and women who have answered the call to serve and will continue to consult with the Save the VA Committee. While any decisions will ultimately come down to Secretary McDonald, I am hopeful we will be able to strike a balance that best serves all of our veterans.”
“For more than 100 years, the Hot Springs facility has delivered exceptional, quality care to our veterans,” said Rounds. “While the great service at the local level continues, the VA’s bureaucracy continues to disappoint. As we analyze the EIS, I will make sure the data is complete and not based on a pre-determined decision to close the facility. I encourage everyone affected to remain engaged and offer comments during the public comment period. As a member of the Veterans’ Affair Committee, providing our veterans with proper and timely care is a top priority of mine.”
“For more than a century, the Battle Mountain Sanitarium has served the needs of our nation’s veterans,” said Noem. “Despite the wishes of our veterans, however, the VA has continued to reduce the facility’s services and push forward a proposal to close it altogether. The EIS findings released today once again highlight the dramatic impact closing the medical and residential rehabilitation center would have on the community and the historic site. I remain committed to fighting for Secretary McDonald to settle on a solution that will work for all involved – especially, our veterans – and encourage everyone impacted to let their voice be heard during the public comment period.”