Hot Springs community reacts to efforts to keep VA facilities

The town of Hot Springs is excited about the efforts made by US Senators to dismantle the AIR Commission
Published: Jun. 27, 2022 at 5:28 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Right after Senator Mike Rounds made the announcement that he and members of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee would not allow the Asset and Infrastructure Review (AIR) Commission to make changes to the current system, Hot Springs Mayor, Bob Nelson spoke about the roller coaster that the city has been on to keep the Veterans’ Affairs Hospital (VA) in town.

“So we’ve been concerned about the AIRs commission for two years,” said Hot Springs Mayor, Bob Nelson.

This is not the first time the healthcare facility in Hot Springs had to be fought for. “The Hot Springs VA would have gone from about 395 veterans – or employees – down to about 180,” said Nelson, also a member of ‘Save the VA’, “And in 2011 the economic impact, the loss of those jobs was $58 million.”

The mayor and community members alike agree that the VA is important for the town. Jarrett Weimer who lives in Hot Springs said, “They’re [Hot Springs VA Facility] just a cornerstone to what we’ve got going on here in Hot Springs.”

For nearly 107 years the Hot Springs VA has been providing service to veterans in rural South Dakota and because of the announcement today that care will be continued.

Weimer says, “It would be detrimental to Hot Springs. Often times we are regarded to as the veterans town,” and the veterans of the town care for each other. Even though the economic impact would be great, the healing of the town would have to be greater if the facility was closed.

Nelson, who has been apart of keeping the VA in Hot Springs for over a decade said, “I can’t stress enough this has never been about this has never been about the economic impact to the City of Hot Springs.”

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