Press Release

Press Release Baker-Polito Administration Re-Files Bill to Honor Veterans Lost to Service-Related Illness

Presented to Families, Medal Would Recognize PTSD and Other Service-Related Injuries and Illnesses
For immediate release:
5/28/2021
  • Office of Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito
  • Governor's Press Office
  • Executive Office of Public Safety and Security
  • Executive Office of Health and Human Services
  • Massachusetts Department of Veterans' Services
  • Massachusetts National Guard

Media Contact for Baker-Polito Administration Re-Files Bill to Honor Veterans Lost to Service-Related Illness

Governor's Press Office

Baker-Polito Administration Re-Files Bill to Honor Veterans Lost to Service-Related Illness

BOSTONThe Baker-Polito Administration this week re-filed legislation to establish the Massachusetts Medal of Fidelity, which will be presented by the Massachusetts National Guard to the families of veterans who lost their lives to service-related illnesses and injuries.

“The Medal of Fidelity is an important opportunity to honor the brave men and women and their families who have served not just the Commonwealth, but the nation,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Service-related injuries and illnesses can persist long past service, and our administration is proud to offer legislation that, if passed, will demonstrate our gratitude for the sacrifices of our veterans and their loved ones.”

The bill, entitled “An Act Relative to Establishing the Massachusetts Medal of Fidelity,” will authorize the Commonwealth to award the Medal of Fidelity to the next-of-kin of Massachusetts service members who “died as the result of service-connected diseases, conditions or injuries that are related to either exposure to harmful toxins, herbicides, agents, and materials or service-related post-traumatic stress disorder.”

“As we celebrate Memorial Day this weekend, there is no more appropriate time to recommit our administration to our veterans and their service,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “Service-related illness and injuries can have devastating impacts on veterans and their families, and these selfless sacrifices should not go unnoticed and unacknowledged.”

Complementing the Medal of Liberty, which is presented to the families of Massachusetts veterans who die of combat-related physical injuries, the Medal of Fidelity will recognize service-connected injuries related to exposure to harmful substances, such as Agent Orange, as well as death attributed to service-related mental illness.

“We remain committed to honoring the Massachusetts veterans whose military service was inextricably linked with sacrifice,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Security Tom Turco. “The Medal of Fidelity will memorialize the call to duty that they answered so bravely, recognize the loss that their loved ones still mourn, and properly reflect our understanding that the invisible injuries of war are very real for military families.” 

“Those who have selflessly served in the military can endure trauma long beyond their active duty and while some service related health issues, such as PTSD and traumatic brain injury, which affect individual veterans and their loved ones, may be less obvious, they are equally important,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders. “The Commonwealth recognizes invisible wounds of war with this new honor.”

“The brave men and women who serve in the military suffer visible and invisible trauma. Massachusetts is a leader in providing benefits and services to veterans, and helping veterans access mental health and other services,” said Secretary of Veterans’ Services Cheryl Lussier Poppe. “We can never express enough gratitude for those who have served, but we can take every opportunity to honor and pay our respects to those who give so much to us, and their families.”

“This is the first medal of its kind given by the Commonwealth to recognize veterans who have lost their lives because of service-connected illness and injuries,” said Maj. Gen. Gary W. Keefe, The Adjutant General of the Massachusetts National Guard. “It represents the duty and commitment of service members, as well as their faithfulness to the nation. The medal also demonstrates the Commonwealth’s commitment to support them and their families before, during, and after military service.”

The bill will also authorize a commission to make Medal of Fidelity award recommendations to the Governor. The commission will be composed of The Adjutant General of the Massachusetts National Guard and two field grade officers of the armed forces of the Commonwealth.

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Media Contact for Baker-Polito Administration Re-Files Bill to Honor Veterans Lost to Service-Related Illness

Office of Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito 

Governor Charlie Baker, Lt. Governor Karyn Polito and the Baker-Polito Administration are committed to serving the people of Massachusetts and making the Commonwealth a great place to live, work and raise a family.

Governor's Press Office 

Visit the Governor’s Press Office to learn about recent news from the administration, follow our happenings on social media, and for media contact information.

Executive Office of Public Safety and Security 

EOPSS is responsible for the policy development and budgetary oversight of its secretariat agencies, independent programs, and several boards which aid in crime prevention, homeland security preparedness, and ensuring the safety of residents and visitors in the Commonwealth.

Executive Office of Health and Human Services 

The Executive Office of Health and Human Services is the largest secretariat in state government and is comprised of 12 agencies, in addition to 2 soldiers’ homes and the MassHealth program. Our efforts are focused on the health, resilience, and independence of the one in four residents of the Commonwealth we serve. Our public health programs touch every community in the Commonwealth.

Massachusetts Department of Veterans' Services 

The mission of the Department of Veterans’ Services is to advocate on behalf of all the Commonwealth’s veterans and provide them with quality support services and to direct an emergency financial assistance program for those veterans and their dependents who are in need.

Massachusetts National Guard 

The Massachusetts National Guard is an operational reserve of the United States Army and Air Force that provides ready, relevant and reliable troops and equipment to respond to natural disasters or other civil emergencies when activated by the Governor. The Guard also supports the federal military mission when activated to duty by the President of the United States.
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