Submitted recommendations could cause the closure of 2 Veteran Affair Medical Centers

Published: Mar. 14, 2022 at 6:18 PM MDT
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FORT MEADE, S.D. (KEVN) - For over a decade, Hot Springs and Fort Meade Veteran Affairs (VA) Medical Centers have stayed open despite recurring threats of closure.

Now, those concerns are resurfacing.

Monday a recommendation was released to close both facilities and make way for a centralized location in Rapid City.

The VA hospitals in Fort Meade and Hot Springs would be replaced with outpatient clinics.

This comes as a market overview projects the demand of inpatient services to decrease and the demand for long-term outpatient care to increase.

Still, those currently utilizing the current VA facilities may not be ready for a change.

“This is such a wonderful facility here, not to say that Rapid City couldn’t have as nice a facility, but this is so handy for those of us here in the Northern Black Hills and those that come down form Montana and North Dakota and things like that,” said Veteran Michael Kitzmiller.

A Deadwood resident, Kitzmiller appreciates the convenience of the Fort Meade location. “It’s be tough to have to do everything in Rapid City.”

The closure could also impact local businesses in the vicinity.

“They stop at their VA appointment, they come here, ‘hey what you go this, this, that?’” Explained Justin Bohn, owner of Sturgis Guns.

Bohn said his store sees a lot of veterans interested in his products and taking away the hospital could negatively impact it.

“It would definitely slow down the people coming through the door seeking information about buying a gun or buying ammunition. I think ammunition would be the biggest thing as well as the actual guns,” said Bohn.

Despite the recommendation’s release, this isn’t the final step. The process before any VA center closes could take years.

March 14, 2022 was the deadline for recommendations to be submitted to the Air Commission.

They have until January 31st of next year to submit their recommendations to the President.

If he approves, the recommendation moves to congress for approval.

If he disapproves of the recommendation, the Air Commission will review the reason for disapproval and resubmit.

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