As the month of October came to a close, the Department of Veterans Affairs publicly released its much-delayed draft study on the reconfiguration of its Black Hills Health Care System in western South Dakota. The study, required by federal law, identifies options to be considered for the future of the Battle Mountain Sanitarium, a National Historic Landmark.
The V.A. identified six possible options, or alternatives, to meeting the purpose and need of the reconfiguration. Despite vehement opposition from veterans, locals, elected officials, and other stakeholders, the agency has identified Alternative A as its preferred alternative. This option would discontinue services at Battle Mountain Sanitarium and move those services 60 miles north to Rapid City, the very proposal that was set forth in late 2011 before any public input was solicited.
It is hard to believe that the V.A. objectively undertook this study with no pre-determination, given the public and stakeholder input that supported very different alternatives—primarily that the V.A. maintain its presence as a medical facility at Battle Mountain Sanitarium.
Voices can still be heard on this matter through the federal review process. You can visit this website and submit your comments by February 5, 2016, in support of maintaining the V.A. medical facility at the Battle Mountain Sanitarium campus. It’s what our veterans want and deserve; to be treated at a place that has provided care to our nation’s heroes for more than a century.