Press "Enter" to skip to content

Delegation Urges VA Secretary to Meet with Veterans and Community Members During Upcoming Hot Springs VA Visit

Washington — 

U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) today urged Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert Wilkie to visit with veterans who would be personally affected by the VA’s Black Hills planned realignment during his upcoming visit to the Hot Springs VA medical center. Currently, Wilkie’s draft itinerary does not include interaction with members of the community, veterans, and other stakeholders.  

“In our discussions with you dating back to November of 2018, we have repeatedly stressed the importance of meeting with the veterans who would be personally affected by the VA’s realignment plan,” the delegation wrote. “We most recently raised this matter in our discussions prior to your October 2019 visit to our state. Failure to hold a discussion about the Hot Springs campus with them will forgo an opportunity to hear firsthand from veterans about long-held concerns with the VA’s Hot Springs plan. Moreover, it will confirm to veterans and the community that a reduction in services at the Hot Springs VA has been a pre-determined outcome throughout this process, regardless of stakeholder input. We are confident that the long-sought visit to the historic campus will be most productive if it includes meaningful engagement with the veteran community.”

Full text of the letter below

 

The Honorable Robert Wilkie

Secretary

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

810 Vermont Avenue Northwest

Washington, DC  20420

Dear Secretary Wilkie:

Thank you for fulfilling your commitment to return to South Dakota to visit the Hot Springs VA medical center.  Unfortunately, we were discouraged to learn that a draft itinerary of your upcoming visit fails to allot time for interaction with members of the community, our veterans, and other stakeholders.  

In our discussions with you dating back to November of 2018, we have repeatedly stressed the importance of meeting with the veterans who would be personally affected by the VA’s realignment plan.  We most recently raised this matter in our discussions prior to your October 2019 visit to our state.  Failure to hold a discussion about the Hot Springs campus with them will forgo an opportunity to hear firsthand from veterans about long-held concerns with the VA’s Hot Springs plan.  Moreover, it will confirm to veterans and the community that a reduction in services at the Hot Springs VA has been a pre-determined outcome throughout this process, regardless of stakeholder input.  We are confident that the long-sought visit to the historic campus will be most productive if it includes meaningful engagement with the veteran community.    

As the fourth VA Secretary to oversee this matter, we believe you have a real opportunity to revisit the VA’s record of decision and move forward in a collaborative way, but this will require direct dialogue.  While we understand you set the trip agenda, we would strongly advise you to include a roundtable discussion with local stakeholders during your visit.  We believe this should be a top priority.

Thank you for your consideration and attention to this important matter.

Sincerely,

Go to Source
Author:

All Information was gathered from publicly available US Government releases. "§105. Subject matter of copyright: United States Government works Copyright protection under this title is not available for any work of the United States Government, but the United States Government is not precluded from receiving and holding copyrights transferred to it by assignment, bequest, or otherwise. ( Pub. L. 94–553, title I, §101, Oct. 19, 1976, 90 Stat. 2546 .)" http://uscode.house.gov/view.xhtml?req=(title:17%20section:105%20edition:prelim)