State officials announce new council to help veterans across western Massachusetts

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) – Ahead of Memorial Day weekend, Governor Healey signed an executive order this morning to create a new council, which she said will help veterans across the commonwealth.

Western Mass News spoke with residents that said they’re hopeful about this new council, but some are cautiously optimistic given the timing of the message and previous success with these councils.

“A step in the right direction for sure,” John Paradis. “We’ve advocated for groups like this. We just want to see that the state follows through on this and it’s just not an announcement that’s done right before Memorial Day.”

On Friday morning, Governor Maura Healey signed an executive order to create a new Governor’s Advisory Council on Veterans’ Services that will inform the governor about veterans’ issues in Massachusetts.

“I think that it’s a wonderful concept, and I hope that it comes to fruition,” said Bill Walls.

As Memorial Day observances take center stage like this one in Springfield on Friday. The veterans and local leaders here in western Mass. we spoke to told us it was their first time hearing about the new advisory council. They’re hoping they’ll have a seat at the table, ones they said didn’t exist under previous administrations.

“Very few people knew about the meetings, how to contact the members,” said Paradis. “There was very little outreach.”

Meantime, the State Senate approved a budget on Thursday that includes $3.7 million in funding to support veterans’ services as proposed by the state senator John Velis. A half-million dollars of that to expand trauma services for veterans and close to a million dollars for the Disabled American Veterans Department of Massachusetts Service Fund.

As for the state budget, the senate and house budgets will be reviewed and negotiated into a final budget bill that will be considered by the full legislature in the coming weeks.

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