It was on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918 that all fighting ceased in the first world war. The day later known as Armistice Day became a national holiday for Americans to celebrate the conclusion of the conflict that was to be “the War to end all wars.” President Eisenhower issued a proclamation for Americans to observe Veterans Day instead. As the proclamation reads, Veterans Day is a day that “a grateful Nation might pay appropriate homage to the veterans of all its wars who have contributed so much to the preservation of this Nation.”

In South Dakota, we have around 61,000 individuals who have contributed to that preservation of our freedom. We have a higher percentage of veterans in South Dakota than the nation at large, and the Rapid City area has the highest concentration of veterans in the state. That might be part of the reason why western South Dakotans are such patriotic people. We don’t take our liberties for granted and we take seriously the call to honor our veterans.

As we tell the veterans in our lives thank you this Nov. 11th, we can also celebrate the progress we’re making as a community to serve those who have worn the uniform. By next Veterans Day, over 7,000 Black Hills veterans will have access to a new VA Community-Based Outpatient Clinic in Rapid City.

The new VA clinic will replace an aging facility that is half the size of the future clinic. Services offered at the new VA clinic will include primary care, mental health care, physical therapy, audiology, pharmacy, lab services, and women’s care to meet the needs of the increasing female veteran population.

The clinic environment is designed to feel comfortable and inviting, and it accommodates a separate entrance for patients in need of privacy. The design of the new VA clinic is guided by sustainability and energy efficiency principles, including heating and cooling the facility using a geothermal field, and is slated to achieve a Green Globes rating.

Dream Design and the Department of Veterans Affairs broke ground on the VA clinic in July of 2021. Construction crews are finalizing the exterior of the building installing metal panels and windows before winter. Much of the work is now focused on the interiors, with a quarter of the space bearing near completion. The facility will be ready for patients by next summer.

We live in a great nation thanks to those who have worn the uniform. They deserve our thank you and the very best care we can possibly give.