Sen. Thune has helped carry the voice of West River veterans to Washington, D.C., to oppose the misguided proposal to reconfigure the Black Hills Health Care System (BHHCS) and shutter the Hot Springs Medical Center.
Highlights of Sen. Thune’s Commitment to “The Veterans Town”:
- Determined to Act on Sound Data, Not Predetermined Outcomes:
- Since the VA formally released its proposal to reconfigure the BHHCS in late 2011, Sen. Thune has pressed the administration to provide credible data and a cost-benefit analysis.
- Sen. Thune has pushed for the VA to return the Hot Springs campus to its former levels of operations and staff before conducting a five-year review to gather new data.
- He has also secured legislative report language that would prohibit the closure of VA medical facilities in Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) 23, the region that includes South Dakota, until the VA produces a national realignment strategy for all VA closures.
- Representing West River Veterans in Washington, D.C.:
- Sen. Thune has led numerous delegation meetings with the former and current secretaries of Veterans Affairs to make sure the concerns and wishes of South Dakota veterans are heard.
- Sen. Thune has advocated for alternatives to shuttering the Hot Springs campus, such as reinvigorating its post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) program to establish a Center of Excellence for PTSD.
- Sen. Thune has also worked to secure multiple extensions of comment periods to ensure that all stakeholders have the opportunity to participate in consultation meetings and submit thoughtful comments to influence the decision making process.