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DAV has served the forgotten warriors of this nation for 93 years. The backbone of our service is representing veterans of all conflicts to obtain benefits from the VA they are entitled to as part of the covenant for their military service. The DAV in 2013 represented over 5,000 veterans and dependents in Massachusetts. The results of this representation amounted to $105,144, 548.00 in benefits. All of our services are free.

DAV fully supports Senator Rush's legislation to make the Secretary of Veteran Services a cabinet level position.
It is unfortunate that the Secretary of Veteran Services is really a Secretary in name only answering to the Secretary of HHS and not the Governor.
Our Veterans deserve a seat at the table communicating directly with the Governor. Thank you Senator Rush for filing this important legislation.Today, I filed legislation to place the Secretary of Veterans’ Services as part of the Governor’s cabinet; therefore, responsible for reporting directly to the Governor. Currently the “Secretary” reports to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, not the Governor, which is a total disservice to our states almost 400,000 Veterans!

This legislation will ensure that the voices of Massachusetts veterans, our active and reserve service members and their families are heard loud and clear!
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The DAV is saddened and disappointed by yesterdays report on the tragedy at the Holyoke Soldiers' Home.

DAV hopes this tragedy is the catalyst for real change both within the Soldiers' homes system and within the Department of Veteran Services. Both the soldiers' home system and DVS are in need of reform and modernization.

DAV has officially requested that the House and Senate create a special joint committee to examine the way in which the Commonwealth cares for older Veterans. We have asked that this committee be granted subpoena power for both records and testimony. DAV urges it be properly staffed with investigators and experts to conduct a broad and in depth examination of the entire soldiers' home system including whether this system should continue in its current form. Legislative recommendations should be made at the conclusion of the investigation.

DAV is encouraged that the Governor will be announcing reforms. We urge his administration to take a deep and broad look at our veterans services systems with the goal of systematic change and improvement. We urge that the selection of the next Secretary of Veteran Services will be conducted with full transparency and with input from Veteran advocates.

DAV feels that a systems review of this magnitude is long overdue. There have been many attempts to make legislative changes to this system over the years. However without a full and detailed understanding of the current needs and holes in services no meaningful change is possible. This is a serious public health issue. We as a Commonwealth owe it to our most vulnerable and honorable citizens to do better.

This oversight review, if conducted under the proper legal authority, staffing and funding will lay out a path to reform. All of the Commonwealth’s veterans deserve to feel confident that if they one day become a resident of a state-run veteran care facility that they will flourish and not perish. It will require all of us to take a hard look at how we serve our elderly Veterans. It will be difficult but we must have the courage to do better for these men and women.
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