State lawmakers react to charges dismissed for former superintendent of Holyoke Soldiers’ Home

Boston Statehouse

BOSTON (WWLP) – One day after all charges were dismissed against the former Superintendent of the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, lawmakers on Beacon Hill are still processing the news.

Because the legislature did their own investigation into the Holyoke Soldiers Home, lawmakers still believe Walsh should be held accountable for his role in the COVID-19 outbreak.

Back in March of 2020, Bennett Walsh was overseeing the Holyoke facility and making decisions about how to house veterans as COVID-19 began to spread. Walsh was accused of housing several COVID-19 positive residents in the same area as residents that were not showing any symptoms.

On Monday, a judge dismissed the criminal case against Walsh, saying, “There is insufficient reasonably trustworthy evidence that, had these two dementia units not been merged, the medical condition of any of these five veterans would have been materially different.” A decision that lawmakers were shocked to hear.

“My standpoint is that my job as the chairman of the committee is to make sure this never happens again, so what I need to do is to look at the opinion, see if there’s anything we as lawmakers can take from that and apply to the law that we’re taking up right now,” said State Senator John Velis, (D) Westfield.

At this time, the legislature is considering how the state’s Soldiers’ Homes should be run in the future. A bill currently before the Veterans Affairs committee would establish a council of people to make important decisions at the homes. The bill is expected to pass.

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