WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Senators Tim Johnson (D-SD), John Thune (R-SD), U.S. Representative Kristi Noem (R-SD), South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard, and representatives of the Save the VA Group Monday met with VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to discuss the future of VA facilities in Hot Springs, South Dakota.
Pat Russell, Bob Nelson, Dr. Rich Gross, Don Ackerman, and Amanda Campbell represented the Save the VA Group at the meeting.
Senators Mike Johanns (R-NE), John Barrasso (R-WY) and Mike Enzi (R-WY) were also present.
Johnson, Thune, Noem and Daugaard released the following statements:
"Today's meeting was a good opportunity for the Save the VA Group representatives to present their case directly to Secretary Shinseki," said Johnson. "I commend the Save the VA Group for delivering a passionate, thoughtful presentation to Secretary Shinseki. I set up this meeting because I wanted to make sure the VA takes the Save the VA Group's concerns and proposal into account when considering changes to the Black Hills Health Care System and I will continue to closely monitor this situation."
"I am pleased that the delegation and representatives of Save the VA finally had the opportunity to sit down with Secretary Shinseki," said Thune. "I'm confident that we relayed to the Secretary the importance of the Hot Springs facility to our veterans and the significant obstacles that closing this facility poses to providing these men and women with the highest quality health care. I look forward to hearing from the Secretary on this matter so that area residents can finally be provided with some certainty and reassurance that the VA will continue to meet the important health care needs of area veterans."
"This was a productive meeting. I am appreciative that Secretary Shinseki made the time to meet with us, and that members of the Save the VA Committee were able to travel to Washington D.C. for it," said Rep. Noem. "I have been engaged with the community for over a year on this process, and was very impressed with its strong defense of its proposal today. The Secretary indicated that he had not made a decision but would like to make one sooner, rather than later. I am confident that today's meeting, and the strong presentation made by the Save the VA Committee, has made Secretary Shinseki abundantly aware of how critical the VA facility is to our veterans and the Hot Springs community. I look forward hearing the Secretary's thoughts on the committee's proposal and will continue to work with him and members of the Hot Springs community toward a resolution that is best for our veterans."
"I really appreciated Secretary Shinseki's consideration – he gave us more time than he had originally committed. The 'Save the VA' committee from Hot Springs gave a strong, succinct presentation. I hope that Secretary Shinseki and the VA will consider our position and do what is best for our veterans and for South Dakota," said Governor Daugaard.