WASHINGTON — 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 November 10, 2016, issued the following statements regarding the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) final environmental impact statement (EIS) on the Black Hills Health Care System and the veterans facility in Hot Springs, South Dakota. Any decision on whether or not to close the Hot Springs facility based on the results of the VA’s EIS will be determined by VA Secretary Robert McDonald.
“My primary concern, as it has been since the VA released its initial proposal, remains what is best for serving the needs of South Dakota veterans,” said Thune. “It is disappointing that the VA has continued to pursue a pre-determined outcome despite significant opposition from our veterans, who have sought the care they have selflessly earned in Hot Springs for over 100 years. Secretary McDonald has given his word to visit the campus before a final decision is made, and I remain committed to supporting an outcome that best serves all of our veterans.”
“I do have concerns about the final EIS released by the VA this morning,” said Rounds. “While we continue to conduct a thorough review of the EIS, we will also continue working closely with all stakeholders and the VA to make certain any final decision is in the best interest of South Dakota veterans and the Hot Springs community.”
“We have a responsibility, not only to serve our veterans, but to listen to them,” said Noem. “South Dakota’s veterans have made clear how important it is to them that services at the Hot Springs VA Hospital continue. Still, this administration has incrementally depleted the services offered and pushed forward a seemingly pre-determined plan to close the facility altogether. Now is not the time to close the doors and tell our veterans to find help elsewhere. This is a special place, which is why I’m once again renewing my call to Secretary McDonald to visit Hot Springs before any final decisions are made.”