VA Black Hills Health Care System
Peter Henry Honored
Peter Henry, Director of VA Black Hills Health Care System (VABHHCS) will be retiring on July 2nd after a total of 16 years serving as VABHHCS director, with 41 years of service in the VA. Senator Johnson presented Mr. Henry with a statement he entered into the Congressional Record recognizing his dedication to public service.
"Peter's commitment to our veterans has been steadfast for more than forty years, and has served the veterans of the Black Hills well for more than a decade. I congratulate him on all he has done throughout his career and wish him well in his retirement," said Johnson.
Here is the full text of the Congressional Record statement honoring Mr. Henry:
Mr. President, I rise today to recognize the career of a dedicated public servant. Peter P. Henry is retiring as director of the Black Hills VA Health Care System in early July, concluding a career in federal service that spans 41 years in the Department of Veterans Affairs. Peter has spent two lengthy stints at the helm of the Black Hills VA, totaling 16 years of service.
I want to commend Peter for his dedication, professionalism and steadfast commitment to veterans and their families. I have always appreciated the efforts of the men and women who work in the Black Hills VA Health Care System and exemplify the VA's "Veterans Come First" mission. Patient satisfaction numbers have remained high during Peter's leadership at the Black Hills VA, a testimony to the dedicated work of the staff and administrators at the Hot Springs and Fort Meade facilities.
Over his career, Peter has witnessed a number of changes in the VA system and has deftly guided and implemented these changes within the Black Hills VA. He worked to merge the Hot Springs VA and Fort Meade VA systems into one collective organization, the Black Hills VA Health Care System. This action provided a number of challenges including condensing dual missions at two campuses into one mission spanning two facilities.
During his many years of service in the Black Hills, Peter has worked diligently to provide VA services to South Dakota veterans who would otherwise not receive such important care. The number of Community Based Outreach Clinics (CBOCs) in the Black Hills VA system has increased during Peter’s tenure. Veterans living in rural and reservation areas of South Dakota have much better access to VA health care and specialty services through the CBOCs. The needs of rural and reservation veterans must continue to be addressed so that access to quality VA care is preserved and maintained.
In 1995, Peter provided key leadership with the opening of the Rapid City Community Based Outreach Clinic (CBOC) at a small facility on the South Dakota National Guard’s Camp Rapid campus. In a joint agreement between the Guard and the VA, veterans in Rapid City were able to save on mileage and receive routine levels of care. It wasn't long before VA officials realized that the facility was too small to meet the growing demands of veterans in the Rapid City area. A larger facility was opened near private community-based medical facilities. As Peter's career comes to a close, he continues to work to improve the Rapid City CBOC.
Like many agencies, the VA has been asked to do more with less over the years. The Black Hills VA continues to face challenges as it works to meet the complex needs of our ever growing veterans population, including women veterans, younger veterans, veterans with traumatic brain injuries, post traumatic stress disorder and other illnesses. I commend Peter’s ability to address these challenges and ensure that South Dakota's veterans are provided the quality care they deserve.
I have always appreciated Peter’s insight and input on issues impacting the VA Health Care System, the Black Hills VA, and veterans in general. I congratulate Peter on his many years of federal service and applaud him for his passionate work on behalf of veterans and their families. I wish Peter and his wife Sharon all the best in his retirement.