BOSTON (WWLP) – There were shovels in the ground Monday as the groundbreaking for the new Holyoke Soldiers Home took place.

It marked a commitment from the administration that veterans in the state will receive the care and support they deserve. This groundbreaking comes three years after the deadly Covid-19 outbreak took the lives of at least 76 veterans, which also caused a reorganization on the state level.

The Department of Veterans’ Services became a cabinet-level position in March after a 2022 law that was in response to the deadly pandemic outbreak at the Holyoke and Chelsea Soldiers’ homes.

Now, the new facility will cost $483 million and will have the ability to house 234 long-term care beds. The project is funded through a combination of federal funds and a state bond bill passed in 2021. There is $263.5 million in federal funds and $400 million through the state.

Senator Velis, who chairs the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs and represents Holyoke, said that at the time of the pandemic, there were four to five individuals in one room.

In the new construction, most residents will have their own room.

“It gives them independence, it puts one person in a room, puts bathrooms in the rooms, again care with honor and dignity. Obviously, there’s the infection control prevention stuff that does as well, but I would argue with anyone that veterans, they deserve a lot of things but first and foremost is they deserve care, dignity, honor,” said Senator John Velis.

In the state budget, which was signed into law last week, the Department of Veteran Services received a $11.4 million increase. The new Holyoke Soldiers Home is expected to be completed by the summer of 2028.

Local News

Ellen Fleming is a reporter at the Boston State House who has been a part of the 22News team since 2022. Follow Ellen on X @EllenFlem and view her bio to see more of her work.