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In pushing old-style approach for a new soldiers’ home, Mass. abandons key blueprint for care

Air Force veteran Robert Aucoin, 78, receives a COVID-19 vaccine dose at the Soldiers' Home in Holyoke on Dec. 29, 2020.Pool photo by Hoang "Leon" Nguyen/The Republican

Re “Holyoke veterans deserve more than a new building” (Editorial, April 8): Dignity Alliance Massachusetts urges the Commonwealth to put aside the current proposal to construct a 235-bed congregate care facility as a replacement for the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home and, instead, follow the US Department of Veterans Affairs’ Small House Model Design Guide. This model would create smaller, resident-oriented care centers geographically dispersed around Western Massachusetts that are focused on the personalized needs and preferences of veterans.

Instead of building a monument to our past failed efforts at institutionalization, the Commonwealth should develop and operate a living memorial in the form of supportive living options and related services that reflect our collective concern for and gratitude toward those who have served in our military. Given the Commonwealth’s efforts to rebalance its long-term services and supports away from nursing facilities and toward home- and community-based programs and services, it makes little sense to abandon that blueprint when it comes to the care of the state’s veterans.


A crisis is too valuable to waste. The many veterans and others who died during this pandemic should not have died in vain. Veterans deserve the investment of $400 million, but not in ways rooted in the 19th century. They deserve a 21st-century state-of-the-art system of care and services. Reverting to the old ways without reform dishonors those who have died.

Paul J. Lanzikos


The writer is the former Massachusetts secretary of elder affairs and a former member of the Massachusetts Public Health Council. This letter was cosigned by L. Scott Harshbarger, former state attorney general; Charles Carr, former commissioner with the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission; and Richard T. Moore, former state senator and former Senate chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing.