• Rally with Save the VA to Protect Battle Mountain Sanitarium

    May 12, 2015

    This Friday, May 15, Save the VA will be rallying in the streets of Hot Springs to protest the proposed closure of Battle Mountain Sanitarium. Despite VA Secretary Bob McDonald's pledge to not make a decision on the future of this beloved veterans medical facility before completion of the environmental review compliance required by federal law, the agency has implemented several actions that support closure of the campus. These include a fiscal year 2016 federal budget request for third party leasing followed by release of an Expressions of Interest proposal to non-government entities for campus reuse. These steps, coupled with the agency's poorly performed compliance process, have eroded trust with Secretary McDonald and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

    Join Save the VA and dozens of veterans from Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming at the rally this Friday. The event starts at 8am at Centennial Park in Hot Springs. More details can be found here.

  • The American Legion Passes Resolution in Support of Stewarding VA Historic Properties

    October 21, 2014

    Earlier this year representatives of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Save the VA met with The American Legion in Washington, D.C., to share our work on preventing the closure of the Battle Mountain Sanitarium in Hot Springs, South Dakota, as proposed by the Department of Veteran Affairs. That collaborative partnership quickly grew with a visit to Hot Springs by members of The American Legion's System Worth Saving Task Force. There they hosted a town forum with veterans as well as detailed meetings with administration and staff of the VA Black Hills Health Care System (VABHHCS). The result was a report that included several recommendations including that VA leadership should upgrade the existing medical facility to meet disability requirements and maintain the current facility in Hot Springs.

    Part of The American Legion's ongoing commitment to Hot Springs and ensuring that veterans receive the best possible care in existing VA medical centers included a resolution passed by The American Legion National Executive Committee in mid-October urging the VA and Congress to take steps that will provide greater stewardship and resources to the more than 2,000 historic properties under the agency's management, including Battle Mountain Sanitarium.

    The American Legion is the country's largest veterans service organization with more than two million members nationwide. Their support of our efforts to protect Battle Mountain Sanitarium and other VA historic properties is a tremendous boost and is one we hope to exercise in encouraging the new VA Secretary Bob McDonald to take up our cause. To that end, the National Trust recently reached out to the new secretary and received a prompt response. As a former member of Cincinnati's Cultural Task Force, Secretary McDonald participated in our announcement of two Cincinnati Icons to our National Treasures portfolio earlier this year. We are hopeful that his support and appreciation of those two historic properties will be replicated for the historic properties he now stewards for veterans and the American public. We are now waiting on his acceptance of our invitation for a meeting.

  • Introducing the Battle Mountain Sanitarium

    July 22, 2012

    My name is Jenny Buddenborg, and I’m the National Trust’s project manager for Battle Mountain Sanitarium.

    Hot Springs, the self-proclaimed “Veterans Town,” is nestled in South Dakota’s picturesque southern Black Hills. The citizens of this former resort town have banded together and launched the Save the VA Campaign to prevent the closure of the Battle Mountain Sanitarium. Their voices are being heard--locally, regionally, and nationally--and the National Trust is lending a powerful hand.

    One of our current strategies is getting the Department of Veterans Affairs to acknowledge their legal obligations under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act and the National Environmental Policy Act, two important preservation tools. Both Federal laws require Federal agencies to initiate compliance in the earliest planning stages of a project and to consider adverse impacts of and alternatives to a project proposal that could potentially harm a historic property. However, the Department of Veterans Affairs has spent years planning for the closure of Battle Mountain Sanitarium without initiating compliance.

    The National Trust is applying its legal expertise and is working with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, the National Park Service, and South Dakota State Historic Preservation Office to push the Department of Veterans Affairs towards initiating these compliance processes. In late May, it worked; the Department of Veterans Affairs held its first Section 106 consulting parties meeting. We continue to push for National Environmental Policy Act initiation, which will provide for greater public involvement and the identification of alternatives to the closure of the National Historic Landmark.

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