By: Rep. Linda Dean Campbell, April, 2019
As a Veteran, I am honored to have been appointed as House Chair of the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs for this session and to have the opportunity to work on legislation that will improve services and care for those who have served. My first order of business is to meet with as many Veterans organizations as possible and to prepare to advocate for our Veterans in the upcoming House budget process. Meanwhile, I have joined citizens across the Commonwealth in honoring our Veterans on a number of occasions:
National Vietnam War Veterans Day at the State House:
On March 29th, the Commonwealth honored our Vietnam Veterans with a Welcome Home that many of them did not receive when they returned from Vietnam. The federal Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act, enacted in 2017, designates every March 29th as National Vietnam War Veterans Day, for on that day in 1973, the last U.S. combat troops left South Vietnam. The event was a moving tribute as Vietnam Veterans from across the Commonwealth gathered in the State House along with many of my colleagues in State Government and national Veteran leaders. It was my honor to contribute some words of thanks to our Vietnam Veterans. To our Vietnam Vets:
WELCOME HOME. In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, we pledge to work with you to provide the care you and your families need and deserve.
Massachusetts Women’s Defense Corps Remembrance Day:
April 2nd marked the Commonwealth’s first annual observance of Massachusetts Women’s Defense Corps (MWDC) Remembrance Day. Established in 2018 through legislation I filed with Rep. Paul Tucker, this day honors 18,000 volunteer women who provided critical civil defense services to the Commonwealth during World War II. These incredible women served as air raid wardens, canteen workers, communications personnel, medics, chemical detection personnel, and firefighters. Though there are few members of the MWDC alive today, their dedication to our country paved the way for future generations of women to lead in so many other capacities.
Funerals of WWII Veterans Al Corn and Sara Hayden:
It is with great sorrow and respect that we mourn the passing of Al Corn and Sara Hayden, two decorated WWII Veterans from Methuen. Al served in General Patton’s Third Army, fought in the Battle of the Bulge, and was awarded a Purple Heart for his service. Sara served in the elite Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) in Texas and received a Congressional Gold Medal of Honor in 2010 for being among “The First Women in History to Fly American Military Aircraft.” It was my distinct honor to attend both of their services and to deliver the eulogy for Al. Since Al had no surviving family in the area, Pollard Funeral Home invited the community to attend his funeral, and the turnout was phenomenal. I am grateful that my community is willing to show up to recognize the contributions of our Veterans. Both Sara and Al have left enduring legacies of dedication and service that will continue to inspire future generations.
Tour of Home Base:
Many thanks to Brigadier General (Ret.) Jack Hammond and the staff at Home Base for taking me on a tour of their new facility in Charlestown. Home Base is a partnership of Massachusetts General Hospital and the Red Sox Foundation that provides mental health services to Veterans and their families.
Their holistic and compassionate approach has helped so many Veterans suffering from PTSD, traumatic brain injury, substance addiction, and more, and the new facility will allow them to serve an even larger population. In addition to clinical work, Home Base provides training to health care providers and first responders across the state to help them better respond to Veterans’ mental health needs. I look forward to collaborating with this organization to address the “invisible wounds” of service in the Veteran community.
Visit from Canine Companions for Independence:
In March, the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs was honored to host two very special four-legged guests at the State House: Angelo and Wena, two service dogs trained by Canine Companions for Independence! Canine Companions is a national non-profit that trains assistance dogs, and they have begun training dogs to work with Veterans suffering from PTSD.
These amazing animals can be trained to turn on lights before their owner enters a room, interrupt nightmares, pick up on anxiety cues and provide comfort, and more. I plan to explore how we can be helpful and supportive of this fantastic organization. Having been blessed with Labrador retrievers as family members all my life, I know that these incredible animals have unlimited potential to help Veterans in need.
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. ◊