Possible closure of VA hospitals has veterans concerned
RAPID CITY, S.D. — The possible closure of VA hospitals in West River has raised major concerns in the veteran community.
The VA announced on Friday that it plans to recommend downsizing facilities in South Dakota, including the Fort Meade and Hot Springs hospitals. Disabled American Veterans, or DAV, says some patients come from as far away as Sioux City in Iowa to be seen at the South Dakota facilities.
There’s talk of converting the hospitals into clinics, but according to DAV, that would take away important services that aren’t available anywhere else within a 250-mile radius.
“Making them come to Rapid, it’s going to add one to two hours drive time for them to come to their appointments,” said Department of South Dakota DAV 1st Junior Vice Commander, Christine Speirs. “It’s going to hurt all the veterans that use Hot Springs and Fort Meade.”
Speirs says DAV helps about a thousand veterans a year with rides to and from the Hot Springs and Fort Meade hospitals.
If you’re a veteran who needs transportation to an appointment, the number to call is (605) 720-7065.