More time has been given for public comment on a plan by the Veterans Administration to close a VA hospital used by western Nebraska veterans.
Public comment will be taken until February 5th on a proposal to close the Black Hills Health Care System in Hot Springs, South Dakota.
U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer joined delegates from Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wyoming in requesting an extension.
“It’s important, I think, that (Veterans Administration) Secretary (Robert) McDonald listen to the concerns, and not just Congress, from the people the VA is supposed to serve,” Fischer says.
Congressman Adrian Smith says closing Hot Springs will place an undue burden western Nebraska veterans.
“And when veterans themselves are suffering as a result of the bureaucracy in the VA and the bureaucracy at the VA tries to tell us what’s good for veterans in western South Dakota and western Nebraska, I’m skeptical,” says Smith.
The Hot Springs facility serves veterans in South Dakota, Wyoming, and Nebraska. If it closes, veterans would have to travel another hour to Rapid City. Members of Congress from all three states wrote the VA, requesting an extension of the public comment period on the environmental impact statement on the proposal to reconfigure the Black Hills Health Care System.
In addition to Sen. Fischer and Congressman Smith, the request was made by Sens. Mike Rounds and John Thune of South Dakota, and Mike Enzi and John Barrasso of Wyoming as well as Congresswomen Kristi Noem of South Dakota and Cynthia Lummis of Wyroming.
On October 28, 2015, the VA released its draft environmental impact statement on the Hot Springs VA.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]