By Alexandra Montgomery
The VA wants to build a new facility 60 miles north in Rapid City.
In addition, the report says in order to close the sanitarium, key stakeholders, veterans, Native American tribes, and other community groups needed to be notified. According to the report, this notification did not happen before the VA announced closure plans.
Representatives from the National Trust for Historic Preservation say they hope that this revelation not only highlight mistakes made by the Veterans' Administration at this institution, but on a national scale. "Hopefully this will bring Battle Mountain Sanitarium to a national scale and show that it's not just going to impact Hot Springs and the community here, but it's impacting people across the country who seek medical attention from the VA," said Jenny Buddenbord, senior field officer for the National Trust Historic Preservation.
Don Ackerman, a retired veteran, spoke on behalf of veterans. "We want our VA where we can come in, and in one day take care of our medical needs and services. Seven trips to a local clinic or hospital to get the same amount of services does not make it more convenient for us," Ackerman said to claps from the crowd.
The VA says it must balance its mission of providing modern facilities for veterans with its responsibility to preserve historic places.
In a written statement, Representative Kristi Noem says that the report's empirical evidence will help to encourage the Veterans Administration to fully utilize the Battle Mountain Sanitarium.