Home
About
Agencies
Agency RSS
Agency
Listservs
Archives
Multimedia
Subscribe
Contact

Governor's Column: Preserving our Veterans Town





Preserving our Veterans Town

By Governor Kristi Noem 
March 6, 2020 

The Hot Springs VA and the entire community have been providing care to America’s veterans for more than 110 years, earning it the nickname “The Veterans Town.” This facility was the first – and only – original National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers that was built for short-term medical needs and not a long-term veterans’ home. It is renowned for its successful post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse treatment facility nestled in the tranquility of our Black Hills. There is no community so dedicated to making certain The Veterans Town delivers the services our heroes have earned.
 
Many of you know that in 2011, the Obama administration announced a reorganization proposal that included plans to close the doors of the VA hospital in Hot Springs. In addition to a total disregard for stakeholder grievances, this announcement was met with considerable controversy because it was supported by very suspect data.
 
While representing you in Congress, I partnered with many South Dakota veterans to battle the VA to keep the facility open. We fought hard to show the facts, including hosting a Congressional hearing in Hot Springs.
 
Despite the overwhelming evidence that our Hot Springs VA is one of the best in the nation, the facility and community have been forced to wait for new leadership in Washington to revisit the 2011 decision. That means for nearly a decade, there has been a persistent cloud of uncertainty surrounding The Veterans Town — recruitment and retention have suffered, urgent care hours have been reduced, and an overreliance on short-term contractors has been necessary.
 
In August of last year, President Trump made a promise that his administration would be “committed to taking care of every warrior that returns home as a veteran,” and VA Secretary Wilkie has said we must put veterans at the center of their healthcare decisions.
 
In early March – after years of persistent requests – Secretary Wilkie visited Hot Springs, and we FINALLY have a commitment to keep Hot Springs open and to revisit the record of decision.
 
This has been a long time coming, but I’m thankful to President Trump and Secretary Wilkie for keeping their promises and advocating for those who've served.
 
The Hot Springs community is so special and so unique. The care they provide our nation’s veterans is unmatched, and I'm committed to doing all that I can to preserve our Veterans Town and ensure they can serve heroes in this way for another century to come.