HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Lawmakers on Friday approved a bill that will secure millions of dollars from the federal government to reconstruct and build a state-of-the-art facility for veterans at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home.
A Conference Committee, which includes members of the House and Senate, reached an agreement and approved the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home Bond Bill to allow $400 million for the redesign project and $200 million in general obligation bonds for veteran housing across the state.
Senator John Velis, a representative of the Soldiers’ Home and chair of the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs, thanked the lawmakers for their work and support throughout the process.
Velis stated, “From the very start—after last year’s tragedy—families and friends of veterans reached out to me with a very clear message: get this done. The marching orders were clear, get the mission accomplished. From listening sessions with families to standouts at the Home to the vigil that took place last month to mark the one anniversary, this has been a truly long and enduring process. We fought for this Home reconstruction for months.”
“I want to thank all the Veterans, families, and community members who have advocated alongside me for a new Holyoke Soldiers’ Home facility for so long. We are one step closer towards making it a reality. At the end of the day, this project is all about the blood, sweat, and tears of our veterans and our recognition of the need to give them what they profoundly deserve. I want to thank all of the veterans, veterans families, and fellow lawmakers who supported me in this remarkable process.”Senator John C. Velis, 2nd Hampden and Hampshire District
Nearly 80 veterans at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home died due to COVID-19 in the spring and summer months of 2020. The new facility is expected to include 237 beds for veteran residents with private rooms and bathrooms.
In a joint statement, state Senator Cindy Friedman and Leader Joseph F. Wagner said bill’s approval will ensure that veterans across Massachusetts receive the care they need and deserve, for generations to come.
Remembering the tragic loss of 77 residents at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home last year as a result of a COVID-19 outbreak, and in honoring all Massachusetts veterans for their service and sacrifice, we today put before the Legislature a report for a total of $600 million in authorized borrowing to ensure that veterans across Massachusetts receive the care they need and deserve, for generations to come.
The report includes $400 million in bonds for the design and construction of a new soldiers’ home in Holyoke and $200 million in general obligation bonds to increase geographic equity and accessibility related to the continuum of long-term care services for veterans across the state.
While passing this legislation will ensure that we rebuild and update a soldiers’ home in Holyoke that we can all be proud of, the Senate and House stand committed and focused on building on policies that promote regional access to high-quality veteran services and reflect the changing needs of our veteran population.Senator Cindy F. Friedman and Leader Joseph F. Wagner
The design development phase must be completed by August 1, 2021, to be eligible for this cycle of the grant program.
Now that the Conference Committee has reached an agreement on the bill, it will head back to each Chamber for an acceptance and enactment vote before being sent to Governor Charlie Baker’s desk to be signed into law.