Kristi Noem

Kristi Noem


Weekly Column: A Prescription for Rural South Dakota


Our son Booker was pretty sick when he was little.  There were a number of times when Bryon and I had to have the conversation: “It’s midnight and something’s not right again.  Do we take him to the hospital?  Do we go now?  Do we wait until morning?  It’s not like there’s a hospital around the corner.”  I assume many parents, particularly those in rural South Dakota, have had to ask those questions.  It’s not always an easy call to make, especially when the roads are icy and temperatures have dipped below zero.  But with recent advances in South Dakota’s telehealth options, these conversations may become a thing of the past.

Already today, families can see a doctor by just turning on their phones.  Both Avera and Sanford Health, for instance, offer smartphone apps that let you connect instantly with a physician who can help parents determine how serious that fever is and what can be done about it.  If only they had that when our kids were little! 

Perhaps even more incredibly, telehealth programs operating out of South Dakota are giving many local clinics a medical upgrade, shrinking the distance between you and state-of-the-art care. 

At the push of a button, your hometown doctor can connect to an experienced emergency physician, an ICU care team, a pharmacist, even specialists in the areas of cardiology or diabetes.  Through the use of two-way video feeds – much like you would use FaceTime or Skype – and specialized telehealth instruments, a doctor in Sioux Falls can have access to every bit of data being collected in the exam room.

With this information, they can talk your local physician through a crisis that they may not typically deal with or maybe just serve as a second set of eyes to help make sure you’re getting the best care possible.

I had the opportunity to tour Avera’s telehealth headquarters earlier this year. There were a few dozen computer stations that were staffed by accomplished physicians – many with more than two decades of experience.  Each station was lined with four high-definition screens where the specialists could see everything from a patient’s vital stats to a real-time video feed of an operation they were counseling a local physician on.  In that room, we saw high-quality health care being delivered across the Midwest to even the smallest of rural clinics. Sanford Health offers many of the same options through a similar program.

A growing number of health care providers in South Dakota are being assisted by telehealth professionals like this.  The Avera site I visited in Sioux Falls services 235 sites across the Midwest alone and claims to have touched the lives of approximately 790,000 patients – from young families to Medicare recipients.

I never considered a life where Bryon and I weren’t raising our kids in rural South Dakota.  We saw so much value in what you learn by growing up this way.  We’ve always loved it and I know many families in South Dakota feel the same way.  Still, small health care providers are struggling to stay afloat, making it more difficult to attract families to small towns.  I’m hopeful new technologies can change this, which is why I’ll be fighting to make sure folks in Washington, D.C., understand why that’s so important that we support telehealth programs.  It’s worth the investment.  After all, telehealth may just be the prescription we need to bridge the gap between rural America and state-of-the-art medical care.

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Women Gather To Talk Health


Sioux Falls women are gathering together to find new ways to stay healthy. EmBe hosted an event where women joined a roundtable discussion on wellness.

We stopped by to see how you can use their advice to get fit.

Women are often busy balancing work and home life, and one of the first things to get put on the back burner is fitness.

"We have too much on our plate as women that we don't like to delegate tasks. That's where we're missing out on all of those opportunities to get active, get exercising," Nikki Weller, FormFitness Yoga Instructor, said. 

One South Dakota woman who knows all about balancing a stressful job and home life is U.S. Representative Kristi Noem. She was the emcee of Monday's In Dialogue event and also took a few notes for her own workout routine.

"Running, CrossFit, P90X and today, they talked about the value of yoga. That it not only helps you be fit and exercise, but it helps you mentally as well," Noem said. 

The group also discussed things like nutrition, and how to properly measure your overall health.

Melissa Ellefson is the Wellness Director for POET and has some strong feelings about scales.

"I feel like women place too much of a self worth on the number that is on that scale. And you know, whether they're up a few pounds or down a few pounds, they just really fixate on that. Rather than how they feel," Ellefson said. 

According to these women, how you feel can be altered with a few, simple life choices.

"So many of the different things that are going on in this country, when we talk about health care costs or taking care of their families, there's challenges.  It's always good to get a bunch of people together in a room and talk about those. And different solutions that might work for each other," Noem said. 

Noem says after this event, she might be adding yoga to her routine to help relieve stress.

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Rep. Noem Returns To Pine Ridge For Youth Suicide Issue


Representative Kristi Noem returned to the Pine Ridge Reservation Friday to talk about the area's suicide problem, and this time she brought along a key member of Congress on youth mental health issues.

It's an ongoing tragedy that won't leave Rep. Kristi Noem alone.

Five weeks after she heard first-hand accounts of suicides and near misses, Noem returned to Pine Ridge with Pennsylvania Rep. Tim Murphy.  Murphy is a child psychologist who's now pushing a sweeping mental-health reform bill.

He was moved, too.

"To listen to the stories today from school, and their tragic stories, and know how much weight they are carrying around in their hearts," Murphy said.

It's weight that kills, month after month.

"Just here at the Pine Ridge facility, we know that from December of  2014 to November 14 of 2015, that there were 20 suicides ending in death," said Indian Health Service Area Director Ron Cornelius.

"We just buried one this morning, an 18-year-old tribal member," said suicide-prevention worker Yvonne "Tiny" DeCory. "We had another one a few weeks ago."

She fears it'll get even worse if the cash-strapped Sweetgrass Suicide Prevention program closes in a few weeks.

"That's a program that's used to give hope to students and youth and turn their lives around," Noem said. "The fact that it's ending in December means we've got to figure out ways to extend that program and keep their funds flowing."

Murphy's presence in Pine Ridge and the mental health law overhaul he is guiding through Congress could matter there.

"We needed to see a place like this to know how we could treat the bill and modify it so funding and mental health services could get to a  place like this," he said.

Maybe in time to save lives.

Along with funding issues, Noem, Murphy and Indian Health Service officials spoke with community members about establishing youth suicide-prevention therapy centers.

An initial plan would put one at the IHS facility in Rapid City, but Pine Ridge community members are pushing for one closer to home.

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House Representatives visit Pine Ridge to address suicide crisis


Pine Ridge has seen a major rise in the numbers of suicides on the reservation.

On Friday, U.S. Representatives Kristi Noem and Tim Murphy will head to Pine Ridge to talk with students and community members about the resources that are needed to address this suicide crisis.

Noem said she hoped this trip would help shed some light on the problems these students face and how the federal government can help. "Most of you know about the suicide crisis that our tribes are going through right now. Their young people, boys and girls, are feeling a loss of hope and I want to bring Rep. Murphy down there to give some insight of what we might be able to do."

Noem and Murphy will be meeting with students impacted by the suicide crisis and talking with Indian Health Services employees who work in the hospital's mental health program.

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Noem shines light on troubled Pine Ridge youth


Rep. Kristi Noem focused on mental health Friday on a visit to Pine Ridge and vowed support for renewing a federal suicide prevention program slated to shut down in December.

Nome traveled with Rep. Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania who is the only child psychologist serving in congress. Murphy is working on mental health legislation and Noem wanted to show him the needs on a reservation wracked by a wave of youth suicides.

The GOP lawmakers met with students, health officials and tribal leaders.

“What we heard was that we have to have to do some things on the federal level to make sure there are more workforce providers that are trained in psychology and psychiatry and social work,” said Murphy. “This area is in crisis and in emergency mode this is an area we have to drive things home.”

After the meetings Noem says she hoped the federally funded Sweet Grass Suicide Prevention Project , which will run out of funding next month, continues.

“I'm going to go back to Washington to advocate and make sure that (program)  can get extended and funded for the future and then and see if we can make our other grants more flexible to operate like that one does.” Said Noem.

Also attending the meetings was Ron Cornelius from the Indian Health Service. He talked about a behavioral health center I.H.S. plans to build in Rapid City.

He agreed to return to Pine Ridge next month to discuss an idea of also building a smaller facility on the reservation.

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Congressional Officials Meet With Pine Ridge Youth On Suicide


Congresswoman Kristi Noem spent a day on Pine Ridge listening to the concerns of Lakota youth who are dealing with the tribes suicide epidemic.  Twelve Pine Ridge students have committed suicide this year.
Tribal officials are concerned that one key effort in combating suicide,  The Sweet Grass Program, is about to run out of funding.  
Tribal leaders praise Noem for her efforts to help the youth of Pine Ridge, but they say more much needs to be done.

Congresswoman Kristi Noem says the meetings on Pine Ridge can help inform legislation in congress.  She also believes the Sweet Grass Program has been highly successful and needs funding.   

“That’s a program they’ve used to give hope to suicidal students and youth and turn their lives around. The fact that that’s ending here in December means that we’ve got to get busy to figure out how to extend that program and keep  their funds flowing,” says Noem.
Noem brought Congressman Timothy Murphy of Pennsylvania with her.  Murphy is a psychologist who serves veterans at Walter Reed Military Hospital.  He’s also a prime sponsor of a new Mental Health bill.

Tiny Decory is among those who met with Murphy and Noem.  She is one of the youth advocates leading the effort to reduce suicide.  She says despite the difficult work ahead, there is hope.  Decory praises Noem for coming to hear the concerns of youth first hand.
“She was here not long ago and now she’s come back. And the kids say the same thing, you know, she’s here, maybe she’s willing to listen to us. Maybe something is going to come out.   Before that our kids said why do we need to go back and get emotional and tell them our stories when nothing is going to get done,” says Decory.

Tribal leaders stress the need for a treatment facility on Pine Ridge that can provide culturally appropriate care to young people in need.  They say right now there are no mental health crisis centers on Pine Ridge and a trip to the nearest facility in Rapid City can overwhelm a family’s resources.

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Weekly Column: A Thankful Nation


I am finding it tough to get into the right mindset to write this column.  In recent days, we’ve had to have some difficult conversations about how we’re going to keep the American people safe and away from terrorism’s deadly fist.  I’ve traveled to Pine Ridge to talk to young people and tribal leaders about a tragic suicide epidemic afflicting Indian Country.  My team and I have received hundreds of letters, emails and phone calls from South Dakotans who are concerned about how the federal government is caring for veterans, supporting our seniors, and digging out of debt. 

Our world can be such an ugly place.  But in the midst of it all, most of us will sit down with family or friends on Thursday and give thanks for our many blessings.  What an incredible national tradition that is.

Especially when times are tough, we need to take the time to reset – to step back and take an account of what we do have.  For me, I’m grateful for my family, for the partner I have in my husband Bryon, for the time I get to spend hunting with my oldest daughter Kassidy, for the laughter that seems to follow our second oldest daughter Kennedy wherever she goes, and for the tender heart of our son Booker.

I’m grateful for my mom and the incredible grandma she is to my kids and their cousins.  I’m grateful for the time I had with my dad and all the lessons he taught me.  I’m grateful for my mother-in-law and father-in-law who have been there to support us at so many turns along the way.  I’m grateful for my siblings and their spouses and my nieces and nephews; they have made our family of five so much bigger (and so much louder!) 

I’m so incredibly grateful to live in South Dakota.  I’ve always loved our state and after spending a week or so in Washington, D.C., I become even more appreciative.  I call coming home my detox. 

I’m grateful for the people of our state – for those who offer words of encouragement, those who challenge me, those who pray for me, and those who ask questions and offer solutions.

I’m grateful to live in a nation that has made freedom the first tenant of our Bill of Rights; a nation that promises opportunity and strives to better itself and the world around us; a nation that takes the time every year to give thanks.

From my family to yours, have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

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Noem to hold meeting on suicide crisis on reservation


The U.S. Department of Education has awarded Little Wound School a $325,000 grant to help the school recover from 12 suicide deaths on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

The Project School Emergency Response to Violence grant aims to help the Oglala Sioux Tribe deal with the deaths.

Friday, Representative Kristi Noem will be in Pine Ridge along with Representative Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania, who is also a child psychologist, to talk about the suicide crisis.

Rep. Kristi Noem says, "The young people, girls and boys, are feeling a loss of hope. I want to bring Rep. Murphy down there to give some expertise and some insight into what we might be able to do as federal government representatives, what kind of resources we can bring to be helpful into the future."

They'll be meeting with students and mental health workers and then host a community meeting in the afternoon.

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Noem Votes to Prohibit Refugees from Syria and Iraq from Being Admitted to the U.S.


Representative Kristi Noem today supported legislation to temporarily prohibit Syrian and Iraqi refugees from being admitted to the United States.  More specifically, H.R.4038, the American Security Against Foreign Enemies (SAFE) Act, would put an immediate pause on the program until the FBI and relevant intelligence agencies could certify to Congress that an individual does not pose a threat.  The legislation, which Noem cosponsored, passed the House today with bipartisan support.

“My priority – and my fundamental responsibility – is to keep the American people safe,” said Noem.  “Top security officials have admitted that we don’t have the resources necessary to fully vet refugees from countries, like Syria, whose government is in shambles and where we lack a law enforcement presence.  Until confidence in the vetting process can restored and we can certify that refugees do not present a safety threat to the American people, we must put a pause on this program.  This legislation would certainly be an important step toward greater national security, but what our country needs as well is a comprehensive plan from the President regarding how he plans to defeat ISIL and overcome the threat of global terrorism.”

Earlier this week, Noem joined more than 100 of her colleagues in writing President Obama regarding their concerns about admitting refugees from Syria and Iraq and urging him to immediately suspend the program. Read More

Noem: "We can't adequately vet these individuals"


A South Dakota Congresswoman says the United States shouldn't welcome any refugees from Iraq and Syria until federal agencies can ensure screening systems protect against potential links to terrorist organizations in those countries.

U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., on a media call Wednesday said she plans to support a House bill Thursday that will stop federal programs that allow refugees from those countries to resettle in the United States until the FBI director and the Department of Homeland Security can ensure that the vetting process is secure.

After reviewing the processes Tuesday, Noem said the United States shouldn't risk admitting refugees from the war-torn countries.

"We feel as though we can't adequately vet these individuals," Noem said.

She said the screening system was appropriate for asylum seekers fleeing other countries with more stable governments.

Republicans have called on the Obama administration this week to suspend acceptance of refugees from Syria and Iraq after investigators said one of the culprits in a series of deadly Paris attacks might have been a Syrian refugee.

Investigators have since said the attackers identified so far are European citizens.

When asked whether the United States should bar entry to Europeans, Noem said intelligence officials who briefed her on the attacks said that was unnecessary.

"They have assured us that that's not an action that needs to be addressed," Noem said.

The Obama administration has said it plans to increase the number of refugees the U.S. will accept to 100,000 by 2017, which human rights advocates say is inadequate to address the depths of the crisis. The U.S. accepted at least 130,000 South Vietnamese refugees in the months after the fall of Saigon in 1975.

As of September, the United States has accepted 1,854 Syrian refugees.

According to the United Nations, the civil war in Syria has killed 250,000 people since it began in 2011, and more than 4 million refugees have fled to other countries to escape the violence.

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Tribal labor sovereignty protected by new legislation


U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD) celebrated Tuesday’s passage of the bipartisan H.R. 511 - the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act of 2015 - to protect tribal sovereignty on labor issues. 

The legislation, long supported by many South Dakota Tribes, seeks to clarify that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has no jurisdiction over tribally owned and operated businesses. 

“Tribes work daily to overcome high rates of poverty and unemployment,” Noem said. ”They continually encourage economic development through self-determination. The last thing they need when trying to improve economic opportunities for their citizens is a federal bureaucracy meddling with their efforts. I’m hopeful today’s legislation will correct the record and reaffirm our commitment to tribal sovereignty.” 

The legislation comes after a unilateral NLRB 2004 determination that the National Labor Relations Act could be applied to tribally owned businesses operating on tribal lands. Many tribes, however, warned that such a determination posed a threat to the foundation of Indian law and the principle of tribal sovereignty. 

Under H.R. 511, tribally owned businesses on tribal lands would not be subject to the jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Act, effectively stripping the NLRB of the powers of administration and enforcement on reservation land for tribally owned businesses. 

Noem originally introduced the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act in 2011, re-introducing it in 2013 and helping move the bill forward in the House as a cosponsor during the current Congress. Read More

Thune, Noem: U.S. Should Hit "Pause Button" On Plans For Syrian Refugees


South Dakota's Congressional delegation is speaking out against plans for Syrian refugees potentially coming to America.

The U.S. House is set to vote tomorrow on a bill that would increase screening for refugees before they enter the United States. The bill would add a new requirement for FBI background checks. Rep. Kristi Noem says she supports the bill.

President Obama is vowing to veto the bill. The White House says the legislation would introduce "unnecessary and impractical requirements" that would harm efforts to assist some of the world's most vulnerable people.

The President has pledged to accept about 10,000 Syrian refugees.

But Sen. John Thune and Rep. Kristi Noem say the U.S. needs to hit the "pause button" before allowing refugees into the country, at least for now.

"Until we find out what what is currently being done, what kind of risks are out there, how serious the vetting process is for people who are coming to this country, I think it's appropriate for us to at least have some sort of suspension or moratorium until we get a better handle on it.," said Sen. Thune.

"I think we need to put a pause on bringing refugees into the U.S. until we can fully vet them and know that we are not bringing in terrorists when we give a home to refugees that are seeking some comfort and protection," said Rep. Noem.

The federal government controls resettlement programs.

Despite dozens of governors across the U.S. saying they will not accept Syrian refugees, states have no authority to bar refugees from moving to their jurisdictions.

Governor Dennis Daugaard's office says South Dakota has not received any Syrian refugees and doesn't believe any will be sent to the state.

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Rep. Noem wants terrorism plan from President Obama


A spokesman for Russia's military general staff says it is developing plans for joint military operations with France.

What should the United States' role be?

South Dakota Representative Kristi Noem says we need a comprehensive plan from President Barack Obama.

Rep. Kristi Noem says, "I want him to show me a plan that shows he's taking this threat seriously, that he recognizes this ability and will to destroy the United States and all that we believe and the values that we hold dear. So this president is the commander in chief. It's his job to give us a comprehensive plan to defeat them, to destroy ISIL. And that's the kind of action we need to see out of our president right now."

Noem says she believes the number one responsibility of the federal government is to protect America and provide for national security.

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Noem Leads House in Protecting Tribal Sovereignty on Labor Issues


Representative Kristi Noem today led the U.S. House of Representatives in passing H.R.511, the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act of 2015.  This bipartisan legislation, which many South Dakota tribes have long supported, would clarify that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) does not have jurisdiction over tribally owned and operated businesses.

“Tribes work daily to overcome high rates of poverty and unemployment.  They continually encourage economic development through self-determination.  The last thing they need when trying to improve economic opportunities for their citizens is a federal bureaucracy meddling with their efforts,” said Noem.  “I’m hopeful today’s legislation will correct the record and reaffirm our commitment to tribal sovereignty.”

In 2004, NLRB unilaterally determined that the National Labor Relations Act applied to tribally owned businesses on tribal lands.  Tribes have expressed great concerns over the impact of this ruling, as it poses a threat to the foundation of Indian law and the principle of tribal sovereignty.  H.R.511 would clarify in law that tribally owned businesses on tribal lands are not subject to the jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Act.  As a result, NLRB would not have administration and enforcement powers on reservation land for tribally owned businesses.

Rep. Noem first introduced the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act in 2011.  She re-introduced the legislation in 2013 and helped move the bill forward in the House as a cosponsor this Congress.

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Lawmakers Ask VA To Extend Comment Period On Hospital Study


South Dakota's congressional delegation is asking the Department of Veterans Affairs to extend the comment period on a study that looks at the impact that closing a Hot Springs hospital would have on veterans.
U.S. Sens. John Thune and Mike Rounds and U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem have requested the extension in a letter to VA Secretary Robert McDonald.
VA officials have proposed shuttering the historic Battle Mountain Sanitarium, transitioning long-term care services to Rapid City and leaving only an outpatient clinic in Hot Springs. Veterans have vehemently opposed this proposal.
The study released last month showed the VA's proposal would have an estimated 30-year cost of over $148.5 million.
The public comment period is scheduled to end Jan. 5. Lawmakers are asking to extend it to Feb. 5. Read More

Weekly Column: Is it the IRS or a Scam?


In a single day earlier this month, more than 100 South Dakotans received phone calls from scammers pretending to represent the IRS.  Residents were told they were about to face legal action, unless they paid their taxes immediately.  These types of scam calls happen nearly every day across the country.  In fact, approximately 736,000 scam contacts have been made in the last two years alone, according to the IRS.  As a result, nearly 5,000 Americans have fallen victim to one of these scams, costing them more than $23 million collectively.  With the right information, however, you can protect yourself.

In many cases, the scammer will call, email or text you and claim the IRS will sue you, arrest you, or revoke your driver’s license unless supposedly overdue taxes are paid immediately.  This is exactly what recently occurred in South Dakota. The scammer’s goal is to con you into turning over your credit card number or bank information.  This isn’t how the IRS operates, however.

The IRS will never call you before sending a letter.  They will never call you to demand an immediate tax payment, nor will they demand that you pay a tax without an option to question how much you owe.  The IRS will also never demand that you pay your taxes in a certain way, such as on a credit or debit card.  They will also never ask for your credit or debit card number over the phone.

If you are concerned that you are being contacted by a scammer, ask the caller for their name, badge number, and a call-back number.  Then, hang up and call the IRS directly at 1-800-366-4484.  Once you provide them with the information, they will be able to tell you if the call was legitimate.  If the caller demands an over-the-phone payment, hang up immediately.  Do not provide any information.

Scammers have also been known to target people through email.  Know that the IRS will not ask you for personal information via email.  If you receive such an email – even if it’s on “official” IRS letterhead – do not reply, open any attachments, or click any links.  You can forward the email to and they will investigate it, but then delete the email from your inbox.

Unfortunately, criminals are quick to adapt to new technologies, meaning they are now using text messages to dig for personal information as well.  Once again, the IRS will not contact you in this way.  As with email, do not reply, open any attachments, or click on any links.  You can forward the text to 202-552-1226 to report it, but then delete the text from your phone.

Initially, scammers primarily targeted older Americans and new immigrants, but the IRS now reports that “the crooks try to swindle just about anyone.”  Please stay alert.  These scams can happen to anyone – any time of the year. 

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Weekly Column: Serving Those Who Have Served


We have a fundamental responsibility to care for America’s veterans, but time and again, our efforts have fallen short.  Recent years, in particular, have seen repeated instances of misunderstanding, mismanagement, and mistreatment when it comes to supporting our veteran community.  Veteran suicides, for instance, occur at an average of about 22 per day.  Tens of thousands remain homeless.  In some areas, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has systematically ignored the urgent medical needs of our veterans. 

And in South Dakota, we are caught in a years-long fight to keep the doors open at a Hot Springs VA hospital that veterans want and need.  This is a facility that has served veterans for more than 100 years.  Its position in the Black Hills provides a level of serenity that aids in the healing process – especially for those facing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury, and similar illnesses.  Those who receive care there have lobbied hard to make sure it stays open, as has the community.  Despite all this, the VA has incrementally depleted the number of services offered in Hot Springs and pushed forward a plan to close the facility altogether.  This is not what our veterans want, nor what they deserve.

In late October, the VA released its draft environmental impact statement regarding the closure of the Hot Springs hospital.  This is one of the final steps when looking to close a VA facility.  The findings once again highlighted the dramatic impact a closure would have.  The public now has at least 60 days to review and comment on the report before VA Secretary Robert McDonald issues a final decision.  I’ve urged everyone who will be impacted to take part in this process. 

George Washington said after the Revolutionary War had concluded that “The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war … shall be directly proportional to how they perceive veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by our nation.”  Closing the hospital in Hot Springs – even reducing its services as the VA is already in the process of doing – does not leave a positive perception. 

I’ve been focused on writing and supporting legislation that better serves our state’s veterans and their families.  This includes provisions to stop the VA from closing the Hot Springs hospital as well as legislation to make it easier to fire VA employees who are failing to serve our veterans with integrity, efforts to improve mental health services for veterans, and bills to increase post-service job training. 

There is a role each of us can play in our communities too.  This Veterans Day, I encourage you to touch the life of someone who has served.  Bring them and their family a meal.  Volunteer at one of the many veterans-centered charities in South Dakota – whether that’s your local VFW, the American Legion, or another one.  Attend a Veterans Day service.  Or just tell them thank you.  These women and men have put on our nation’s uniform and stepped into danger for the sake of our country and the values we stand for.  It’s our responsibility to serve them when they return.

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Noem Says 'Rejection Of Keystone Pipeline Robs SD Of Jobs And Economic Opportunity'


Representative Kristi Noem today expressed deep disappointment with President Obama’s decision to deny approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline.

“President Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL Pipeline robs South Dakota of good jobs and economic opportunity,” said Noem. “This pipeline offered revenue for cash-strapped South Dakota counties and much-needed relief on the roads and rails that are currently crowded with oil transit. His rejection was a purely political decision. In the half-dozen years that Keystone has been under review, 10,000 miles of pipeline have been laid in this country. That’s more than eight Keystone XL pipelines.”

Rep. Noem has been a vocal supporter of the Keystone XL Pipeline’s construction, arguing it would create jobs and generate revenue for South Dakota. She was a co-sponsor of the Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act, which was passed by the House and Senate but vetoed by the President earlier this year.

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Rejection of Keystone Pipeline Robs South Dakota of Jobs and Economic Opportunity, Says Noem


Representative Kristi Noem today expressed deep disappointment with President Obama’s decision to deny approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline.

“President Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL Pipeline robs South Dakota of good jobs and economic opportunity,” said Noem.  “This pipeline offered revenue for cash-strapped South Dakota counties and much-needed relief on the roads and rails that are currently crowded with oil transit.  His rejection was a purely political decision.  In the half-dozen years that Keystone has been under review, 10,000 miles of pipeline have been laid in this country.  That’s more than eight Keystone XL pipelines.”

Rep. Noem has been a vocal supporter of the Keystone XL Pipeline’s construction, arguing it would create jobs and generate revenue for South Dakota.  She was a co-sponsor of the Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act, which was passed by the House and Senate but vetoed by the President earlier this year.

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Noem, Thune Raise Questions about IHS's Approach to Suicide Crisis


U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) and U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today raised questions about Indian Health Service’s (IHS) approach to the suicide crisis plaguing South Dakota’s tribal communities.  In a letter to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, Noem and Thune outlined specific concerns about a proposal to place a new IHS behavioral health program in Rapid City – hundreds of miles away from the individuals it is intended to help. 

“We understand that IHS intends to repurpose nearly $2 million in unspent appropriations to develop an intensive behavioral health program to assist individuals contemplating suicide on Indian reservations in western South Dakota,” wrote Noem and Thune.  “While we are encouraged by this news, we are concerned about the agency’s plans, particularly its decision to place the new facility at the Rapid City Service Unit…. We worry that, by placing the facility so far from the reservations, IHS may not fully grasp the urgent nature of this crisis.”

The rate of suicides among young people in the Oglala Sioux Tribe has reached epidemic levels.  Since December 2014, 15 people between the ages of 12 and 24 have taken their own lives.  There was also a high number of attempted suicides during that time. In October 2015, Noem and Thune traveled to Pine Ridge, South Dakota, to meet with students, law enforcement officers, tribal leaders and others to discuss the suicide epidemic and potential solutions.  Many of the questions included in this letter precipitated from that meeting.

A copy of the letter is included below.


The Honorable Sylvia M. Burwell
Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20201

Dear Secretary Burwell,

For years, tribal communities in South Dakota have been plagued by suicides. This year alone, over a dozen young people have taken their own lives. Recently, we visited some of our constituents who reside in these communities. We spent the day discussing a wide variety of issues with both adults and young adults. Through our conversations, we found that, while positive steps have been made in anti-suicide efforts, much work remains to be done.  It is evident that access to behavioral health services in these communities is imperative.

Having heard firsthand from many of those affected by this tragic epidemic, we write to gain a better understanding of Indian Health Service’s (IHS) approach in addressing this issue. We understand that IHS intends to repurpose nearly $2 million in unspent appropriations to develop an intensive behavioral health program to assist individuals contemplating suicide on Indian reservations in western South Dakota. While we are encouraged by this news, we are concerned about the agency’s plans, particularly its decision to place the new facility at the Rapid City Service Unit – hundreds of miles away from the individuals the facility is intended to help. We worry that, by placing the facility so far from the reservations, IHS may not fully grasp the urgent nature of this crisis.

Given our concerns, and to help us better understand how IHS is addressing tribal members’ behavioral health needs and how it intends to administer this new program in Rapid City, please provide a written response to the following questions no later than  December 1, 2015:

1) Please provide a detailed account of IHS’ interactions with other federal agencies including, but not limited to, interactions with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, the Bureau of Indian Education, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs to address the behavioral health needs of tribal members.

2) How has IHS responded to the outbreak of youth suicides on Indian Reservations?  Please provide specific examples of how IHS has interfaced with tribal leaders, members, and health care providers to ensure that those who need assistance receive it. 

3) Prior to reprogramming IHS funds to the new program at the Rapid City Service Unit, did IHS consult with the Great Plains Area Tribes? If so, describe those communications.

4) How does IHS plan on responding to the growing need for additional inpatient behavioral health services on South Dakota reservations?

5) How will IHS staff the new facility in Rapid City?  Please include information pertaining to the number of staff onsite and their medical credentials.

6) Please provide a current accounting of the number of vacant behavioral health provider positions at IHS service units throughout the Great Plains Region and explain how IHS’ staffing plan in Rapid City will affect its ability to recruit providers to fill these vacant positions.

7) How will IHS identify patients on the reservations who are at risk of suicide?

8) Once a patient has been identified as at risk for suicide, what steps will IHS take to ensure that they receive timely care?

9) Given the limited resources our tribal members often have for transportation, will IHS be responsible to transport patients to the facility in Rapid City, and back to their homes?

10) Does your plan include outreach to Native American children at their schools on the reservations? If so, explain the nature and extent of this outreach.

Thank you for your assistance in this matter. We look forward to your responses. If you have questions, please contact Representative Noem’s staff at 202-225-2801 and Senator Thune’s staff at 202-224-2321. Read More

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1323 Longworth HOB
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Phone 202-225-2801
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U.S. Representative Kristi Noem is a wife, mother, experienced rancher, farmer, and former small business owner. Kristi was born and raised in rural Hamlin County in northeastern South Dakota and still lives there today with her husband, Bryon, and their three children, Kassidy, Kennedy, and Booker.

Kristi learned the value of hard work early in life from her father. He put Kristi, her sister and two brothers to work on the family farm at a young age caring for the cattle and horses and helping with planting and harvest. After graduating from high school, Kristi began attending college at Northern State University in Aberdeen. When her father died unexpectedly in a farming accident, Kristi returned to the family farm and ranch full-time. Her father’s death left a huge absence, so Kristi stepped up and helped stabilize the operation and provided leadership when it was needed most.

Kristi’s work on the farm and ranch didn’t go unnoticed. In 1997 she received the South Dakota Outstanding Young Farmer award and in 2003 she was honored with the South Dakota Young Leader award.

Kristi’s experience as a small business owner shaped her understanding of government and its purpose. Too often, government is inefficient and ineffective, simply getting in the way of small businesses and entrepreneurs who wish to create jobs and grow our economy. Realizing this, Kristi decided to get involved to try and make a difference.

Her service includes the South Dakota State Farm Agency State Committee, the Commission for Agriculture in the 21st Century, the South Dakota Soybean Association, and numerous other boards and committees. In the fall of 2006, Kristi was elected as the 6th District Representative to the South Dakota House of Representatives.

Kristi quickly realized she could serve her district, and the State of South Dakota, more effectively in a leadership position. So in her second term she ran for, and won, the position of Assistant Majority Leader in the State House, where she served until 2010.

Kristi was first elected to serve as South Dakota’s lone Member of the U.S. House of Representatives on November 2, 2010.

While keeping up with her Congressional duties in Washington, D.C. and work with constituents in South Dakota, Kristi continued to take undergraduate courses from South Dakota State University. In December 2011, Kristi graduated from SDSU with her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science.

On November 6, 2012, Kristi was re-elected to the U.S. House of Representatives where she continues to serve on the Agriculture Committee and House Armed Services Committee.

Kristi enjoys helping her daughters compete in rodeo and 4-H. She has been a 4-H leader for 14 years. Kristi is also an avid hunter. She particularly enjoys pheasant hunting on the homestead and archery elk with her brothers.

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