BOSTON – In an effort to ensure greater accountability on behalf of our veterans and
their families, State Representative Richard M. Haggerty (D-Woburn) and his
colleagues in Massachusetts House of Representatives recently passed legislation that
makes key reforms to the governance structure of the veterans’ homes, ensures that both
homes are federally licensed as health care facilities, mandates increased state
management, and provides independent oversight and accountability of veterans’ homes

“This oversight legislation goes a long way in better protecting our veterans who are
served by the Soldiers Homes,” said Representative Haggerty. “The inexcusable loss of
life at these veteran’s homes during the COVID pandemic shone a bright light on the
failings of the leadership structure at these institutions. This legislation, accompanied
with the bond authorization to rebuild these antiquated facilities, will help our
Commonwealth provide the best possible care for the men and women who have served
our nation honorably.”

  • “An Act relative to the governance, structure and care of veterans at the Commonwealth
    veterans’ homes” (H.4441):
    Requires home superintendents to be licensed as nursing home administrators and
    either be a veteran or someone with experience managing veterans in a nursing
    home or long term-care facility.
  • Establishes a 17-member statewide Veterans’ Homes Council to manage and
    control the veterans’ homes, promulgate regulations to the local boards, and
    confirm and remove superintendents.
  • Preserves local, 5-member boards of trustees for the veterans’ homes in Chelsea
    and Holyoke with the authority to nominate candidates for superintendents of their
    respective veterans’ homes.
  • Establishes the Office of the Veteran Advocate, an independent office that will be
    led by a Veteran Advocate appointed by the Governor, Attorney General and State
  •  Requires the Veteran Advocate to submit an annual report, which will be made
    public, to the Governor and the Legislature with an analysis of the delivery of
    services to veterans and recommendations for changes in agency procedures.
  • Establishes the position of ombudsperson for each veterans’ home to advocate on
    behalf of the residents and staff at the home.
  • Requires the Department of Public Health (DPH) to conduct and report on
    inspections of veterans’ homes twice a year, or as often as they see fit, and
    establishes a maximum time of 30 days for a veterans’ home to correct any
    violation that DPH identifies.
  • Requires that all state-operated veterans’ homes adhere to the guidelines for
    trauma-informed care as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and
    Prevention, and be certified by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
  • Requires the Office of Veterans’ Homes and Housing to submit an annual report
    including findings but not limited to the quality of care provided at the homes and
    an analysis of activities of the Office and of the Veterans’ Homes Council.
    Following the tragedy at the Holyoke Veterans’ Home in 2020, which resulted in the
    COVID-19 related deaths of 77 veterans, the Legislature established the Special Joint
    Oversight Committee on the veterans’ Home in Holyoke COVID-19 Outbreak to
    investigate and make legislative recommendations.

In May 2021, the House approved a $600 million bond authorization — with $400
million for the construction of an updated Holyoke Veterans’ Home facility and $200
million to increase geographic equity and accessibility for veterans not primarily served
by the veterans’ Home in Chelsea or Holyoke.

“An Act relative to the governance, structure and care of veterans at the Commonwealth
veterans’ homes” passed the House of Representatives with a 156-1 vote. It now goes to
the Senate.