For Immediate Release - April 15, 2007

PATRICK-MURRAY ADMINISTRATION CREATES THE GOVERNOR'S ADVISORY COUNCIL ON VETERANS' SERVICES

Council to advise Governor and Secretaries of Health and Human Services and Veterans' Services

BOSTON- Sunday, April 15, 2007 - Governor Deval Patrick and Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray today announced the creation of the Governor's Advisory Council on Veterans' Services to guide the Commonwealth on how best to assist Massachusetts veterans.

"The citizens of Massachusetts were among the first to take up arms in defense of our liberty and the Commonwealth today remains extremely proud of our men and women who continue to answer the nation's call to arms," said Governor Patrick. "We recognize that our veterans, particularly those with service-related disabilities, have particular needs as a result of the sacrifices of military service. The establishment of this Council will assist us in better understanding and responding to the immediate needs of our veterans of all wars, including recent conflicts such as the Gulf War, Afghanistan and Iraq."

The Governor's Advisory Council, created by executive order, is meant to review and assess state and federal statutes and programs relating to veterans, and the delivery of services to veterans, including health care, education, housing, outreach, training and retraining. The Council also will educate the people of the Commonwealth and their elected and appointed officials regarding issues of importance to the Commonwealth's veterans.

The council, which is to consist of up to 35-members, will be chaired by Lieutenant Governor Murray and work closely with the Department of Veterans' Services.

"It is always important for us to honor our veterans and to respond to their needs," Lieutenant Governor Murray said. "This is especially so at a critical time such as now, when we are welcoming home a large number of combat veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. This council will be a tremendous help in ensuring that state government is fully aware of, and responsive to, the needs of our veterans of all ages and of all wars."

"Governor Patrick, Lieutenant Governor Murray and I believe that this council is the best way to hear from veterans and learn about both their met and unmet needs. We look forward to input from a broad cross-section of veterans who will be able to advise the council about the service improvements needed and deserved by those who have served us so well," said Tom Kelley, Secretary of the Department of Veterans' Services.

The civilian council members will be unpaid and selected by the governor from the numerous organizations serving veterans in Massachusetts, including the American Legion, AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans, Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve, Gold Star Mothers, Gold Star Wives, Governor's Advisory Committee on Women Veterans, Marine Corps League, Massachusetts Municipal Association, National League of Families, Organization of Afro-American Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America, providers of veterans homelessness services, provider of veterans outreach services, veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom and/or Iraqi Freedom, the Veterans Benefits Clearinghouse, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Veterans Service Officers.

The following officials, or their designees, shall serve as members of the Council: The Secretaries of Elder Affairs, Health and Human Services, Housing and Economic Development, and Labor and Workforce Development; the Commissioners of Education, Mental Health and the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission; the Chancellor of the Board of Higher Education or another official representing education and training issues; the Commandant of the Massachusetts Soldiers' Home in Chelsea and the Superintendent of the Holyoke Soldiers' Homes; the Adjutant General of the Massachusetts National Guard; and the Director of the Division of Career Services.

Additional members may be appointed as the governor deems appropriate. The United States Department of Veterans Affairs and the United States Department of Labor also will be invited to participate.

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