South Dakota VA hospitals, facilities saved from closure

WASHINGTON, D.C.(KOTA)- A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators, which includes Sens. Mike Rounds and John Thune of South Dakota, announced Monday they will block the appointment of a commission that would review closing some Veterans Affairs hospitals.

South Dakota Senator Mike Rounds explains what this means for rural veterans in the state.

Rounds said he believes the bipartisan group works effectively together.

When asked whats next for veteran care, Rounds says the VA should refocus.

The AIR Commission was the result of a law passed in 2018 called the Mission Act.

Congressman Johnson released the following statement:

“This process hasn’t been accurate or fair from the beginning,” said Johnson. “I have opposed the VA AIR recommendations from day one. The VA of the past cannot look like the VA of the future, but the Commission was going about it the wrong way. While the VA AIR Commission nominees awaited the Senate confirmation process, I have been pushing in the House to make sure no funding is appropriated that would result in diminished services to veterans in South Dakota.”

The public hearing process for closures and service reductions could not begin until nominees were confirmed by the Senate. With the announcement from a bipartisan group of Senators revoking their support of the Commission, the nominees will not be approved, and the VA AIR Commission will not move forward.

In March, Johnson joined U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) to send a letter to VA Secretary Denis McDonough to express their frustrations and concerns with the recommendations to close or downsize several VA health care facilities in South Dakota.

Johnson previously spoke at a congressional roundtable to express opposition to the recent VA recommendations to the AIR Commission to close or downsize several VA health care facilities in South Dakota.

The South Dakota delegation has been opposed to the recommended service reductions since the VA’s announcement in March 2022.