MILITARY

Veterans fight to keep Civil War-era hospital open in South Dakota's picturesque Black Hills

  • This photo taken April 13, 2015, shows exterior of the grand rotunda entry to the historic Black Hills VA in Hot Springs, S.D. The 108-year-old veteran’s hospital built of thick blocks of pink sandstone and topped with red, tiled roofs in a Spanish mission-style overlooks the tiny town of Hot Springs, a scenic escape that’s become a haven known for healing veterans over the last century. (AP Photo/Kristina Barker)

    This photo taken April 13, 2015, shows exterior of the grand rotunda entry to the historic Black Hills VA in Hot Springs, S.D. The 108-year-old veteran’s hospital built of thick blocks of pink sandstone and topped with red, tiled roofs in a Spanish mission-style overlooks the tiny town of Hot Springs, a scenic escape that’s become a haven known for healing veterans over the last century. (AP Photo/Kristina Barker)  (The Associated Press)

  • This photo taken April 13, 2015, shows the Battle Mountain Sanitarium campus, top left, a scenic escape perched atop a bluff in the remote Black Hills of South Dakota that’s become a haven known for healing the nation's veterans over the last century. That tradition could soon end as officials with the Veterans Affairs in South Dakota have proposed shuttering the 108-year-old campus, relocating some of its services and leaving only an outpatient clinic in Hot Springs, the city the state Legislature declared in 2014 to be The Veteran’s Town. (AP Photo/Kristina Barker)

    This photo taken April 13, 2015, shows the Battle Mountain Sanitarium campus, top left, a scenic escape perched atop a bluff in the remote Black Hills of South Dakota that’s become a haven known for healing the nation's veterans over the last century. That tradition could soon end as officials with the Veterans Affairs in South Dakota have proposed shuttering the 108-year-old campus, relocating some of its services and leaving only an outpatient clinic in Hot Springs, the city the state Legislature declared in 2014 to be The Veteran’s Town. (AP Photo/Kristina Barker)  (The Associated Press)

  • This photo taken April 13, 2015, shows a bright and open hallway at Battle Mountain Sanitarium, a historic VA facility in Hot Springs, S.D. While Black Hills VA officials has proposed shuttering the hospital, many of the region’s veterans have longed pushed against it arguing the tranquil environment in a town of 3,500 people is crucial for vulnerable veterans and cannot be replicated outside of Hot Springs. (AP Photo/Kristina Barker)

    This photo taken April 13, 2015, shows a bright and open hallway at Battle Mountain Sanitarium, a historic VA facility in Hot Springs, S.D. While Black Hills VA officials has proposed shuttering the hospital, many of the region’s veterans have longed pushed against it arguing the tranquil environment in a town of 3,500 people is crucial for vulnerable veterans and cannot be replicated outside of Hot Springs. (AP Photo/Kristina Barker)  (The Associated Press)

Veterans in South Dakota are vehemently pushing back against a plan from federal officials to close a historic hospital campus in a remote corner of the Black Hills and relocate its services to a bigger city.

Officials with the Department of Veterans Affairs have proposed shuttering their Hot Springs campus at the historic Battle Mountain Sanitarium and transitioning their long-term care services to Rapid City.

Many of the region's veterans have longed pushed back against the restructuring, arguing the tranquil environment offered in a town of 3,500 people is crucial for vulnerable veterans and cannot be replicated outside of Hot Springs.

VA officials say moving the services north to Rapid City would help attract physicians, better accommodate female and single-parent veterans and link patients with job opportunities and occupational training.