Patrick-Murray Administration Honors Massachusetts Veterans and Their Families at the State House
BOSTON — Governor Deval Patrick, Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray, Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. JudyAnn Bigby and Department of Veterans’ Services (DVS) Secretary Coleman Nee gathered today at the State House to honor past and present service members in Massachusetts.
“Today we express our gratitude, pride and support for the Massachusetts military personnel who protect our interests around the world,” said Governor Patrick. “This Veterans Day we acknowledge all veterans’ dedication and service, as we reinforce our commitment to making opportunities and resources available to the Massachusetts men and women who have served, and continue to serve us.”
“As citizens of this Commonwealth and the nation, we have an obligation to ensure all veterans have access to the range of services they have rightfully earned,” said Lieutenant Governor Murray, chair of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Veterans’ Services. “Our Administration is dedicated to working with our private and public sector partners to continue enhancing and delivering services to the brave men and women who have shown their commitment to our country through their service.”
Massachusetts leads the nation in providing benefits and services to veterans and their families. Through Chapter 115 financial assistance, the Commonwealth provides over $60 million annually to assist veterans and eligible dependents with food, shelter, supplies and medical care. The Commonwealth also provides an additional $21 million in annuity payments for disabled veterans and Gold Star Families.
“We strive every day to provide greater access to the broad range of services available to Veterans in the Commonwealth,” said Secretary Bigby. “Today’s ceremony is particularly important for recognizing all Massachusetts veterans and their families, and making sure that they have access to the many state and federal resources to support their education, employment and health.”
“On Veterans Day, we come together collectively to honor the brave men and women who have served in our armed forces” said Secretary Nee. “We honor the men and women of generations past and those who are currently serving overseas helping our nation stay safe. To all of our veterans, we say thank you for your service.”
Massachusetts is also leading the way in providing some of the most unique and innovative programming to deliver veterans’ services. DVS currently operates two peer outreach teams, SAVE and SHARP, which provide peer support and navigation to veterans in the areas of crisis intervention and homeless prevention.
Special Guests Invited to Attend Ceremony
Special guests this year included Mr. Stephan Ross of Boston and the family of the late Lieutenant Steven Sattler, USA. Mr. Ross was a holocaust prisoner in Dachau concentration camp when he was freed by American soldiers in 1945. Mr. Ross spent much of his life telling his story, looking for the soldier that gave him an American Flag that he carries to this day. Mr. Ross finally located the children and relatives of that soldier and they were presented with their own American Flag in honor of their father’s service and kindness to Mr. Ross.
The State House ceremony also included a special tribute to women veterans, led by Colonel Andrea Gayle-Bennett, who has been an officer in the Massachusetts Army National Guard for over 28 years serving as a Physician Assistant. Colonel Gayle-Bennett was the Massachusetts Women Veteran Network's 2011 Deborah Sampson Award Recipient given to the outstanding woman veteran of the year. Tim Sullivan, Commander in the United States Navy (Ret.), a former POW, and Maureen Dunn, of the National League of Families of POW/MIA, led a candle lighting ceremony for those who have been held prisoner or are missing. Gold Star Families were paid tribute with a rose presentation.
About the Department of Veterans’ Services
The Department of Veterans’ Services advocates on behalf of the Commonwealth's nearly 500,000 veterans, family members, and survivors. DVS works to secure federal compensation and other benefits for which veterans may be eligible. The Department also administers needs-based benefits program through Veterans' Service Officers throughout Massachusetts and provides state funding to organizations offering homeless shelter, transitional housing, and outreach services to veterans.
# # #