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I was encouraged with the report from the Save the VA group after their last trip to Washington, DC. It seems like some of the people might finally be getting the message that the original decision to close the Hot Springs VA hospital and facility was based on incorrect information.

Our Save the VA group spent all day recently with the Washington VA office personnel going over facts and figures. From what I heard, I am hopeful the message we have been saying over and over is finally being heard by the VA staff. The staff will give a report to Sec. Shinseki very shortly, if it has not already been done.

The original numbers that have been presented are finally being changed by the VA to more reasonable numbers. Construction and renovation projected costs are now much more in line with what we have been saying for over a year. It is too bad it took so long to get the message to the top management at the VA. Hopefully the message that was delivered and facts our group explained get to the proper people for a decision.

The delay of almost a year since the Save the VA presented its own proposal has hurt our community and has damaged the local VA facility. The unknown of closing or not closing has caused some of the VA employees to leave, as other opportunities have come along.

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I have been told other downsizing has taken place at our VA, causing some needed veteran care to not be available here. The most unfortunate part of this whole affair is that the care available for our veterans has suffered. When health care providers are not available locally for the care needed, in many cases veterans have simply chosen not to be treated.

It is unfortunate if the message on all the Save the VA buttons is no longer true: “What our veterans earned, we deliver.”

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