HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – A Hampden County Superior Court judge ruled that the state did not have the authority to terminate Holyoke Soldiers Home superintendent Bennett Walsh.
Family members of veterans at the home are reacting to the news, telling 22News the ruling on Tuesday doesn’t change much for them, they never thought the deadly outbreak was all Walsh’s fault.
Susan’s Regensburger’s 100-year-old father was diagnosed with COVID-19 at the Holyoke Soldier’s Home. He is one of the few veterans lucky to be alive after contracting the deadly virus.
The state blamed the outbreak at the Soldiers’ Home on Superintendent Walsh, but the Regensburger’s feel the fault should’ve also fallen on his superiors.
“To me they were just throwing him under the bus to have a victim but I thought it went up hire than that because he ultimately was hired by somebody and recommended and they are the ones that put him in there,” said Regensburger.
Walsh has been represented by his uncle, former Hampden County DA William Bennett, who released a statement to 22News that reads in part:
For several months Superintendent Walsh has been vilified by Governor Baker, Secretary Sudders and others. I hope that this decision will allow people to consider that perhaps that criticism is unfair and that the actual story of what happened has not yet been understood.
Seventy-six COVID-19 positive residents have died at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home since the beginning of the pandemic. As for the Regensburger’s, their father has recovered but has lasting effects from the virus.
“He’s doing remarkably well. We were with him today but because he’s been in isolation so long his mental capacity has really failed when you don’t have anyone to communicate with and at that age it doesn’t take much,” said Regensburger.
As of right now, Walsh’s firing is invalid, only the Board of Trustees has the power to do so, so now the decision will go to the board.