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Noem announces Congressional hearing on Hot Springs VA

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congresswoman Kristi Noem, R-S.D., Wednesday announced she will be hosting a House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing this month on the issues faced by the Hot Springs Veterans Affairs Hospital.

The hearing, which will be attended by Chairman of the House VA Committee Jeff Miller and Vice-Chairman Gus Bilirakis, will look to further investigate the VA's proposed restructuring of the VA Black Hills Health Care System.

"It's been more than two years since the VA's intended closure announcement and there are a number of critical questions that have yet to be answered," Noem said. "Time and again, the VA has disregarded congressional requests for additional information and set aside the concerns of the Veterans it serves in South Dakota. By holding this hearing, area Veterans and community groups will be given an amplified voice and I'm hopeful it will help move us closer to the answers we need and local Veterans deserve."

"The VA systematically promotes a culture of mediocrity without the necessary levels of transparency and accountability. While there are many dedicated public servants working on the front lines to help our nation's heroes, it is this culture that has led to the backlog of Veterans' claims, excessive wait times to receive care, and preventable deaths. This has resulted in the lack of trust in the VA both by Congress and the American people," said Vice-Chairman Bilirakis. "I am pleased to be able to participate in this field hearing to examine one of the many instances in which the VA's failed transparency has resulted in substandard treatment of our Veterans."

The field hearing, which Rep. Noem requested of Chairman Miller in a letter earlier this summer, will be held at 10 a.m. Mountain time on Aug. 14, at the Mueller Center in Hot Springs. Noem has worked with the Committee to secure witnesses. The hearing will include testimony from:

• Bryan Brewer, President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe

• Bob Nelson, Co-Chair of the Save the VA Committee

• Amanda Campbell, Member of the Save the VA Committee

• Pat Russell, Co-Chair of the Save the VA Committee

• Larry Zimmerman, South Dakota Secretary of Veterans Affairs

Noem has fought for the Hot Springs VA to remain open, as it has provided critical care to South Dakota Veterans for decades. Noem met repeatedly with former Secretary of the VA Eric Shinseki and has already joined the South Dakota delegation in requesting that newly appointed Secretary of the VA Robert McDonald tour the Hot Springs VA.