Retaining Rural VA Care


March 30, 2022

Dear Editor,

As the son of a United States Marine, I know the sacrifices that our Montana veterans have made and the dedication they have to our great state and our great nation. Montana veterans risked their lives to protect our freedoms and make America and the world a better, safer place to live. When they return home, it is our duty to ensure they have reliable and accessible health care no matter where they live.

Several weeks ago, it was reported that the U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs (VA) under President Biden would recommend the closure of several veteran health facilities across Montana, including the one in Glasgow. I immediately spoke to VA Secretary Denis McDonough to share with him the severe impacts this would have on Montana communities and veterans. I was disappointed that those close to discussions within the VA had nothing to say on this report until after I publicly voiced my concerns. We should be fighting for veterans at all times, and that's exactly what I intend to do.

The official report recommended closing three rural Montana facilities and reducing service in another which is absolutely unacceptable. This report makes it feel as if the VA under President Biden is ignoring and abandoning Montana and shows just how out-of-touch D.C. bureaucrats are with rural America. The Biden administration cannot ignore the unique obstacles that rural health care facilities face and must take that into consideration before unilaterally closing Montana clinics.

Many Montana veterans already travel far just to make it to the closest facility to receive critical care. Closing and limiting service in these centers across Montana would increase this burden for our veterans.

Arbitrary reporting requirements designed for urban areas do not capture the unique challenges that our rural health provider face serving some [of] our Montana veterans. Shuttering health centers because of this is simply unfair. We should be supporting rural facilities-not making it harder for them to provide care to veterans.

Montana's brave men and women who have served rely on these VA facilities for everything from daily health care to life-saving procedures. I'll be doing everything I can to ensure these important services remain available to Montana veterans who selflessly served our nation. I stand with rural Montana veterans and won't give up the fight to save these facilities.


Senator Steve Daines


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