Sen. Timilty Votes to Advance Holyoke Soldiers’ Home Bond Bill
Legislation includes additional bond authorization for geographic equity and accessibility for veterans
(Boston–04/29/2021) On Thursday, April 29, 2021, State Senator Walter F. Timilty (D-Milton), along with his colleagues in the Massachusetts State Senate, passed a bill authorizing $400 million in bonds for both the design and construction of a new facility for the soldiers’ home in Holyoke.
“This funding brings much-needed reforms and expands services for our brave veterans across the Commonwealth,” said Timilty. “As the former Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs, I have had the great privilege to interact with and listen to the outstanding members of our distinguished veteran community here in Massachusetts. Both the needs of and the services provided to our heroes must address the ever-changing demographics and health concerns of the men and women of the US Armed Forces.”
In addition, the bill authorizes the issuance of $200 million in general obligation bonds, which will benefit Massachusetts veterans with an emphasis on those geographic areas not primarily served by the soldiers’ homes in Chelsea or Holyoke.
To address both the current-day and future needs of our veterans here in the Commonwealth, Timilty filed two amendments to the bill, which were adopted in the State Senate.
His first amendment requires the Department of Veterans’ Services to consider the changing needs of the veteran population when designing new veterans’ homes and facilities.
“Because of the honorable and heroic sacrifices made by the men and women in service, it is incumbent upon us to provide the very best of both medical and long-term care possible here in the Commonwealth. Both the composition of our veteran community and the types of wounds sustained during their service have evolved,” Timilty stated.
“The methods of warfare have evolved with new technologies. As a result, it is essential that we gather data relating to our veteran community and its medical needs. We must analyze this information and take it into consideration when developing plans for new, inclusive homes and facilities for our veterans,” he said.
His second amendment requires that long-term care experts be consulted when designing plans for new veterans’ homes and facilities.
“Massachusetts is a hub for medical innovation and patient care. We have access to experts in all medical fields, including gerontology and long-term care. We must look to these professional experts as advisors when developing state-of-the-art residential long-term care facilities for our veterans,” said Timilty. “If we are making a monetary investment in creating a new facility in Holyoke, then we must do our due diligence in both the planning and design stages to ensure that it will meet the industry standard of care, so that the next generation of veteran residents receive the care they so deserve.”
In passing the $400 million bond authorization for a new soldiers’ home in Holyoke, Massachusetts is eligible to receive up to 65% in federal reimbursement through the Veterans Affairs State Home Construction Grant Program. The existing soldiers’ home in Holyoke was built in 1952 with many triple and quadruple-bed rooms. The bill passed by the State Senate will advance the construction of a modern facility with a “small house” concept to meet the needs of future generations of veterans.
The bill must now be reconciled with the version recently passed by the House of Representatives.