Veterans continue to fight to save the Hot Springs VA - kotanow.com- Scottsbluff Area News, Sports, and Weather

Veterans continue to fight to save the Hot Springs VA

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Dozens of panhandle veterans continue their fight to keep open the Hot Springs VA Clinic.
 
Hot Springs is a quandary, " says veteran Donald Ackerman. "Hot Springs has provided care for veterans for 109 years."
 
And now, more than a century of care may be coming to an end. "The cost to the people of Scottsbluff is it's going to be hard for the veterans to get health care- if not impossible," says Ackerman. "Throw them back on your local economy to support all the veterans who are going to need health care."
 
Wednesday night's scope meeting was to get concerns on record - and to determine what the economic impact of the closure would mean.
 
"This is the opportunity for veterans to speak up on how it will impact them as far as longer drives and the loss of service to them," explains Patrick Russell of the Save the VA Committee.
 
"It's a damn shame they are thinking about closing that place," says one local veteran. "It's beautiful. It is the sole economic engine of that town."
 
The closure of the Hot Springs clinic would also mean a further drive north, which costs time and money.
 
"And what that will mean for the veterans of Scottsbluff and Gering is instead of a 2 ½ hour drive to hot springs, they will have a 3 ½ hour drive to Ft. Mead," adds Russell.
 
Donald Ackerman from the Save the VA Committee says the Hot Springs clinic is the go-to location for many veterans.
 
"People come from all around the country to get healed," says Ackerman. "Now they can be healed for alcohol, they can be healed for drugs, they can be healed just because post traumatic stress, but they come from all around to get fixed."
 
One veteran was angry about the possible closure, "As veterans we made the down payment on quality health care along time ago."
 
Panhandle veterans say they prefer the care provided by the Hot Springs clinic, despite the Cheyenne VA clinic being closer.

U.S. Congressman Adrian Smith is hosting an open house next week for veteran's to voice their support of the Hot Springs clinic.
 
Smith says that as Chairman of the Rural Veterans Caucus, he is very concerned about recent reports of long VA wait lists. He adds that he hopes to talk to local veterans about their concerns about the uncertain future about Hot Springs clinic.
 
The open house will be at his Scottsbluff office next Wednesday afternoon.

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