FORT MEADE, S.D. (AP) – U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie marveled at the reach of the Fort Meade VA during a visit to South Dakota that was part of a whirlwind tour of VA facilities in four states in five days.
Wilke said the Black Hills Health Care System Hospital at Fort Meade, which draws patients from Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota as well as South Dakota, – serves the largest geographical area in the VA system outside of Alaska.
Wilkie also talked up an initiative launched this summer that lets veterans seek care at non-VA facilities. He says it gives veterans the option of not having to travel.
Republican Sen. Mike Rounds, who met with Wilkie prior to the secretary’s tour Wednesday, said the region’s veterans would prefer to use VA facilities, but the distances make it challenging.