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To the Editor:

I have lived in Hot Springs since 1947, moving here as a teenager with my parents from the Northern Hills. My father was a patient at the VA on several occasions and we were grateful that such a facility was available at home.

I worked at the VA for 20 years and at that time there were 225 patients in the hospital and 450 residing in the Domiciliary. I was very aware of how important the facility was, and is, to the community and area veterans. It saddens me to see it so diminished. In dismantling the facility to such extent, veterans are forced to travel another 100 miles to get care. This is no way to treat those who gave of themselves to support and defend our country. They deserve better.

Recently my husband, a WWII veteran, was a patient at the VA. He was in a spacious room and received excellent care. I can’t praise the staff enough – they were compassionate and very professional in their duties at the hospital. Because the hospital was here in Hot Springs, I was able to be with him each day of his stay.

I’m very aware of the need for our VA Medical Center to once again become a fully-staffed facility, with appropriate health care available to every veteran in the area.

I urge the VA to reconsider its decision to close the Hot Springs VA. This would be a serious disservice to veterans in this area.

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Patricia Karjalainen

Hot Springs

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