- Massachusetts Department of Veterans' Services
Media Contact for Baker-Polito Administration Honors Veterans’ Service & Sacrifice at Veterans Day Observance
Linnea Walsh, Director of Communications & Intergovernmental Relations
BOSTON — Today, Governor Charlie Baker joined Department of Veterans’ Services Secretary Cheryl Lussier Poppe and retired four-star general George Casey, Jr. to pay tribute to those who have served our nation at a State House ceremony. Governor Baker, Secretary Poppe and General Casey joined Major General William Chen, retired two-star general U.S. Army, the Adjutant General of the Massachusetts National Guard, Major General Gary W. Keefe., veterans, active military, and clergy to commemorate Veterans Day by honoring Massachusetts’ brave service men and women.
Governor Baker presented four individuals with a Medal of Fidelity, honoring the next of kin of Massachusetts servicemembers who died as a result of service-connected illnesses, conditions or injuries brought on by exposure to harmful toxins, herbicides, agents, and materials or combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder, while serving in the armed forces or Massachusetts National Guard. This inaugural presentation comes following Governor Baker’s signing of the SPEED Act in August 2022, which created the Medal of Fidelity.
“We are forever grateful for the exemplary bravery, courage and sacrifice shown by the men and women in uniform who have served and serve today to protect our nation and keep us safe,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Veterans Day is an opportunity for residents across the Commonwealth to express our heartfelt thanks to all veterans.”
“No matter the conflict, veterans have always stepped up to serve bravely and honorably, and we honor their service,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “The service and sacrifice of those in the military and their family members can never be forgotten. We proudly honor them today.”
“Massachusetts is committed to ensuring our service men and women, and their family members, have access to the support services that address the hidden wounds of war and assist in the successful transition to civilian life,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders. “We are thankful for the courage and valor shown by our veterans each and every day.”
“Our shared values of freedom and liberty are made possible only because of the bravery shown by my fellow brothers and sisters in service,” said Secretary of Veterans’ Services Cheryl Lussier Poppe, a 30-year veteran of the Massachusetts National Guard. “Today’s ceremony is a celebration of all that our veterans have given to make our nation strong.”
General George Casey, who served as the 36th Chief of Staff of the United States Army, provided the ceremony’s keynote address, highlighting the contributions of veterans and the importance of having an engaged citizenry.
"Citizens in a democracy have responsibilities as well as rights,” said General Casey. “Our veterans have exercised their responsibilities and in doing so have picked up skills that will only make us better as a country.”
US Army Major General (Ret.) William S. Chen was honored at the ceremony for his outstanding military service and community engagement as a key advisor to award the Congressional Gold Medal to Chinese American World War II veterans.
“I’m deeply honored to receive this Community Engagement Award, but it has truly been a team effort involving the Veterans’ Services of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the City of Boston, and the Chinese American Citizens Alliance Boston as we gave long overdue recognition and honor to Chinese American World War II Veterans from New England and surviving next-of-kin residing in New England,” said Major General Chen.
The Massachusetts residents who were awarded the Medal of Fidelity are:
John E. Brennan
Son of US Army (Ret) SSG Thomas Brennan
WWII, Korea, Vietnam
Elaine P. Legay
Widow of US Army SP-5 Donald K. Legay
Korea and Vietnam
East Weymouth, Massachusetts
Widow of US Army SFC Alton Gutshall
Stacey L. Pavenski
Widow of USAF MSgt Peter John Pavenski (Formerly of Peabody, Massachusetts)
Operation Enduring Freedom