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Dream Design breaks ground on Rapid City VA outpatient clinic

Several officials joined Dream Design International Friday morning to break ground on the new Rapid City Veterans Administration Community-based Outpatient Clinic, which will replace the current facility on Fifth Street.

Dream Design’s President/CEO Hani Shafai welcomed the crowd, which included state and local elected officials, along with U.S. Sen. John Thune, members of the VA Black Hills Health Care System, Black Hills Works and others during the ceremony.

“We have today so many people who gathered here to really welcome this project to our community to serve the heroes of our nation,” Shafai said. “The heroes that dedicate their lives to protect and serve every one of us and make our lives the way it is today.”

The ceremony was rescheduled from Thursday afternoon to Friday morning in order to welcome home National Guard troops that returned from Africa.

The VA community-based outpatient clinic will be approximately 45,000 square feet and will include primary care, mental health treatment, specialty care, women’s health, pharmacy care, audiology, laboratory services, imaging and physical therapy. It will be located on the east side of Promise Road off of Catron Boulevard and Mt. Rushmore Road.

It will also incorporate whole health services like chiropractic care, yoga and healthy eating habits.

Sandra Horsman, director of the VA Black Hills Health Care System, said she was humbled by the state’s dedication to serve veterans when she moved to the area about six years ago.

“It’s a healing environment, we’re going to be able to expand services,” Horsman said.

The current Fifth Street facility is about 17,000 square feet, she said.

Lt. Gov. Larry Rhoden said the project has been on the drawing board for 17 years.

“We can never repay the tremendous sacrifice our veterans have made to keep our nation safe, but continuing to cut red tape to make the return to civilian life easier and building facilities like this is one way we can try,” he said.

Thune said he discovered through working on the facility that when working with government, people have to play the long game. He said they played the long game with Ellsworth Air Force Base, with Veterans Affairs in Hot Springs and with the Sanford Underground Research Facility.

“Sometimes it takes years and years and years of commitment, determination, investment and willingness by people to roll up their sleeves and go to work,” he said.

Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Marlette said the South Dakota National Guard has had soldiers and airmen deployed nearly every day since 9/11, with the exception of 42 days. He said the VA outpatient clinic is extremely important to veterans.

“It is just so exciting to see the dream that’s been coming together for this,” he said.

Council member Jason Salamun, who is a veteran, represented the Rapid City Council. He said during his time in service, they had a saying called “charlie mike,” or continue mission. He said it means to keep moving forward.

“With our commitment to our veterans, that’s exactly what we plan to do,” he said. “But you can’t do it without people having your back.”

Salamun said bringing this to life means they have a commitment to veterans and is a significant milestone to show support for veterans.

Work on the new VA clinic is expected to be completed by 2023.

Copyright RCJ 2021. Published by Rapid City Journal July 2, 2021.

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