By: State Rep. Linda Dean Campbell – July, 2020
The Massachusetts House of Representatives has passed a bill allocating $1.1 billion for our state’s COVID-19 response that will be reimbursed by the federal government. This money will be used for personal protective equipment, hazard pay for human services providers, contact tracing, food security, initiatives to address racial health disparities, and more.
I was proud to file an amendment that secured $50,000 for the Massachusetts Military Support Foundation’s Food4Vets program, which has provided over 3.5 million meals to Veterans statewide since March – including in the Merrimack Valley, with meal kit distribution sites at Northern Essex Community College in Haverhill and the Methuen Empowerment Center!
The need for food assistance has gone up drastically in recent months, with eastern Massachusetts projected to experience a 59% increase in food insecurity this year. This makes programs like Food4Vets all the more critical at this time, and I am thankful to my colleagues in the House for adopting this amendment to fund this great program and support our Veterans statewide.
In late June, Haverhill VFW Lorraine Post 29 united with other Veteran organizations, community leaders, local businesses and organizations, and members of the community from Haverhill and beyond and worked as a team to make, bag, and serve 300 BBQ chicken dinners to our Veterans in Haverhill that have been impacted by COVID-19. This effort was led by their Junior-Vice Commander, Donald Jarvis, who applied for a COVID-19 Military Family Relief Fund grant from the Military Friends Foundation on his own and asked for the support from us all. I was grateful to participate in this community-driven event to help out our Veterans in need. Thank you to all involved!
As Chair of the Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs, I am proud to have worked with Speaker Robert DeLeo to announce that the Massachusetts House will move forward with forming a Special Legislative Oversight Committee to review the many investigations into the tragic COVID-19 outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home.
We in the Legislature have an important role to play to ensure that this tragedy never happens again. Now that the situation at Holyoke has stabilized, it is time to look deep into the permanent structures and systems that need to be put in place to ensure that our Veterans receive excellent clinical and emotional care by any and all standards.
State Representative Linda Dean Campbell represents the cities of Methuen and Haverhill in the State Legislature and serves as House Chair of the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs. She can be reached at Linda.Campbell@mahouse.gov or (617) 722-2380. ◊