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January 29, 2016

New State Veterans Home opens

The first residents of the new South Dakota State Veterans Home have moved into their new facility. It has 52 skilled nursing beds on the main level and 48 non-skilled residential living beds on the second floor.

Officials broke ground for the new $43 million facility in October 2013. South Dakota has approximately 70,000 military veterans, many of whom will need this type of housing as they age.

Each floor of the home has its own post office, cafeteria and other services for veterans who live there. Comfortable furnishings and warm, welcoming colors give the facility a homelike feel. Residents have access to physical therapy, speech therapy, fitness, recreational, workshops and an auditorium.

Hot Springs’ tradition of caring for veterans goes back before South Dakota became a state. In 1889, the Dakota Territorial Legislature, in its last session before South Dakota statehood, passed a bill establishing the Dakota Soldiers Home in Hot Springs. The cornerstone was laid Nov. 11, 1889, just nine days after statehood.

The site chosen for the Soldiers Home was a 193-acre tract on the west edge of Hot Springs, a city long known for its healing waters, temperate climate and forested hillsides. The city was once dotted with hotels and spas, where tourists came to soak in the warm springs to treat a variety of ailments.

The nearby Battle Mountain Sanitarium, which is now part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Black Hills Health Care System, was built in 1907 to treat soldiers from the Civil War and the Spanish American War for lung or respiratory problems such as tuberculosis.

Michael J. Fitzmaurice, for whom the State Veterans Home was named in 1998, was a Congressional Medal of Honor winner from South Dakota. He earned his medal during the Vietnam War.

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