To the editor:
The report from the Special Joint Oversight Committee charged to investigate the COVID-19 related deaths of veterans at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home is now available online. This legislative committee was charged to investigate both the immediate and underlying causes of this tragedy.
The most critical testimony heard by the committee was presented by staff and family members during our initial hearings in Holyoke. Their courage in coming forth to speak before us cannot be explained or commended enough, as the tragedy was so fresh and raw at that time.
This gut-wrenching testimony of family members and staff described the chaos that led to the deaths of veterans - some who passed without proper medical treatment to ease their passing, and some completely alone.
Many family members and staff will never recover from what they saw and experienced.
In our report, we make clear that all who abdicated responsibility, and the great trust placed in them, need to be held personally accountable.
But we also take a most important additional step and make specific recommendations for governance reforms in the 14 findings we present.
We, along with our colleagues in the Legislature, are committed to passing legislation to put into statute the recommendations included in this report. Our veterans and their families deserve nothing less.
This, we believe, is the way to honor all those, and their families, who have given their lives to protect our nation and democracy.
Rep. Linda Dean Campbell, Methuen
Sen. Michael F. Rush, West Roxbury