HOLYOKE — A grassroots coalition will hold a stand-out at Holyoke Community College in support of families appearing for the first Legislative Oversight Committee hearing probing the deadly COVID-19 outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home.
The hearing will take place at the college starting at 11 a.m. The stand-out is scheduled from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. outside the entrance of the campus. The rally has been one of many the coalition has staged across the state to bring awareness to the issue and promote reforms at the long-term care facility for veterans.
The pandemic took the lives of at least 76 veterans and sickened dozens more — prompting criminal charges against two former top administrators, a federal class action lawsuit and the formation of the oversight committee. The Holyoke Soldiers’ Home Coalition, a network of former administrators, families, veterans and supporters also formed in the wake of the tragedy.
Former Soldiers’ Home Superintendent Bennett Walsh and his onetime Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Clinton face criminal neglect charges in connection with the outbreak. Their arraignments are scheduled for Nov. 5 in Holyoke District Court.
Both men resigned their positions.
The coalition is also seeking the creation of an advisory council to the Board of Trustees of the Soldiers’ Home for greater representation of veteran and family interests and for a community forum to meet and speak with the finalists for the next superintendent before the person is hired.
“We continue to press the state on what we believe are the key areas that need attention, and we lend our voices in support of our family members who have been through so much these past several months,” said a Coalition statement. “We ‘stand out’ to tell our elected officials that we support our family members, and we want to see action taken to create a better future for the Soldiers’ Home,” a statement from the coalition reads.