Thune meets with VA secretary nominee McDonald

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Farm Forum

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Senator John Thune (R-South Dakota) last week met with President Obama’s nominee to be U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA), Robert McDonald, to discuss much needed reforms at the VA and to underscore the importance of the Hot Springs VA facility in providing high quality care to veterans in the catchment area. The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee unanimously approved McDonald’s nomination yesterday, and a full Senate vote is expected within days.

“I appreciated the opportunity to visit with nominee McDonald and discuss how his private sector experience at Procter & Gamble could direct the much-needed changes within the VA,” said Thune. “I expressed my expectation that the next VA secretary must ensure that our veterans get the care they have earned without delay, and Mr. McDonald shared his clear vision for delivering on this undertaking. South Dakota veterans, especially those in rural locations, face unique challenges in accessing care. I was pleased that Mr. McDonald was receptive to my concerns, and I look forward to the prospect of working with him.”

Thune has been a leader in calling for the administration to return the Hot Springs VA facility to full operation and to ensure that the Environmental Impact Statement, which is currently underway, does not continue with a pre-determined outcome. Thune today raised concerns about how the Hot Springs VA closure will impact area veterans in a number of ways including: wait times, quality of care, access to specialized health care services, access to rehabilitation programs, travel distances, and access to medical care for tribal veterans.

“The VA should immediately halt the Environmental Impact Statement it has started for the closure of the Hot Springs VA,” said Thune. “As I reiterated to nominee McDonald, rather than closing facilities dedicated to providing our veterans with the care they deserve, the VA should focus all of its resources on addressing the current crisis and ensuring those who mistreated our heroes are held accountable.”

Thune encourages all stakeholders to participate in the EIS comment period, which is open until August 16, 2014. Comments may be submitted by email or online at www.regulations.gov, Docket ID VA-2014-VACO-0002.