BOSTON (WWLP) – The Massachusetts Senate has unanimously voted to pass the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke Bond Bill. State Senators John Velis and Eric Lesser announced the passage via social media on Thursday afternoon.
The bill authorizes $400 million in bonds for the design and construction of a new facility for the Soldiers’ home in Holyoke. It also authorizes the issuance of $200 million in general obligation bonds to increase geographic equity and accessibility related to the continuum of long-term care services for those Massachusetts veterans not primarily served by the soldiers’ homes in Chelsea or Holyoke.
“Massachusetts has always been a leader for Veteran services, and this bill reflects the Senate’s deep commitment to those who have served our nation,” stated Senator John Velis (D-Westfield), Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs. “While our Veteran population and their medical needs are changing, the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home’s mission remains the same: to provide care with honor and dignity. This bond bill will ensure that the next generation of residents at the Home receive the care with honor and dignity that they have earned in service to our country.”
In passing the $400 million bond authorization, Massachusetts is eligible to receive up to 65% in federal reimbursement for the design and construction of a new facility at Holyoke through the Veterans Affairs State Home Construction Grant Program.
The Baker-Polito Administration filed a bill in February to provide millions of dollars in capital for a major project to reconstruct the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home. The House passed their version of the bill on April 15th, voting 160-0 to approve legislation (H 3701) authorizing $400 million in long-term borrowing to pay for a new facility.
The COVID-19 outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers Home raised issues about the Home’s layout and the level of care that veterans were receiving there. State legislators and the Governor vowed to improve the conditions at the facility.
State Senator Eric Lesser released a statement shortly after learning the bond bill passed:
“Today marks an important step toward healing for the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke andState Senator Eric Lesser
Western Mass. I’m proud to vote in support of funding the reconstruction of the Holyoke
Soldiers’ Home, an effort led by my friend, Army veteran, and 413 partner Senator John
Velis. The outbreak and events of last spring were a frightening reminder that many
veterans across the country aren’t receiving the care and dignity that they deserve in
exchange for their selfless sacrifice to serve our country. It is a sacred obligation that I take
to heart. I am proud of the Massachusetts State Senate for taking this long-overdue action
together today and look forward to the opportunity ahead with the creation of this new