(WASHINGTON) – The American Federation of Government Employees strongly objects to the proposed closing of the historic Hot Springs, South Dakota VA Medical Center. The Department of Veterans Affairs has proposed shuttering this facility, which is part of the Black Hill Health Care System, covering South Dakota, and portions of Nebraska, North Dakota, Wyoming and Montana. The dismantling of this facility would force veterans to attend other facilities in the network that are between 50 and 100 miles away or be pushed to private sector health care centers that may lack the expertise in treating veterans.
“Hot Springs is a veterans’ town and our VA facility has served America’s heroes for more than 100 years. The proposal by the agency to close the doors of this veterans’ care center, on top of its already diminished capacities, is an outrage,” said Patrick Russell, president of AFGE Local 1539. “This has become a pattern with the VA, where we are finding the agency systematically closing its in-patient care facilities, in order to solely operate outpatient clinics and be in the business of managing contracts with the private sector. This is no way to care for our nation’s vets.”
AFGE members, the American Legion, veterans, community members and other supporters have mobilized grassroots efforts in Hot Springs to petition the agency to keep the facility open to area veterans. The historic facility has been the ideal location to treat those with post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health conditions, given its small town atmosphere.
“We are deeply concerned by the VA’s proposal to close this facility, which has been a pillar in the Hot Springs community for more than a century. Veterans have praised the care they’ve received at this location and the agency would be doing a major disservice to our nation’s heroes by diminishing the services provided at this facility,” said J. David Cox, AFGE National Secretary-Treasurer. “Our mission to care for those who have sacrificed for this country should not be overshadowed by VA management’s desire to outsource veteran care to the highest bidder.”
For more information on the grassroots efforts to maintain the services at the Hot Springs VA Medical Center please visit www.theveteranstown.com.