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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

PATRICK ADMINISTRATION HONORS MASSACHUSETTS VETERANS AND THEIR FAMILIES AT THE STATE HOUSE

PATRICK ADMINISTRATION HONORS MASSACHUSETTS VETERANS AND THEIR FAMILIES AT THE STATE HOUSE
Funding announced to repair the historic Mount Greylock War Memorial Tower
BOSTON --Tuesday, November 11, 2014 – Governor Deval Patrick, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary John Polanowicz and Department of Veterans’ Services (DVS) Secretary Coleman Nee gathered today at the State House to honor past and present service members in Massachusetts. 
“Today we express our gratitude, pride and support for the Massachusetts military personnel who protect our interests around the world,” said Governor Patrick. “This Veterans Day we acknowledge all veterans’ dedication and service, as we reinforce our commitment to making opportunities and resources available to the Massachusetts men and women who have served, and continue to serve us.”
Massachusetts leads the Nation in providing benefits and services to veterans and their families. Through Chapter 115 financial assistance, the Commonwealth provides over $60 million annually to assist veterans and eligible dependents with food, shelter, supplies and medical care. The Commonwealth also provides an additional $21 million in annuity payments for disabled veterans and Gold Star Families.
“It is an honor to be able to thank the men and women who have chosen to serve,” said HHS Secretary Polanowicz. “While we recognize veterans and their families for their sacrifice today, we must continue to support them every day when they return home. The Patrick Administration continues to advance innovative programs and partnerships that help veterans and their families find personal and professional success across our Commonwealth.” 
Massachusetts is paving the way in implementing some of the most unique and innovative programming in the nation to deliver veterans’ services. DVS currently operates two outreach teams, Statewide Advocacy for Veterans' Empowerment (SAVE) and Statewide Housing Advocacy Reintegration and Prevention (S.H.A.R.P.), which provide peer support and navigation to thousands of veterans across the Commonwealth in the areas of crisis intervention, jail diversion and homeless prevention.
Massachusetts also has the first in the nation plan to end veterans’ homelessness by 2015. Since 2012, the Department of Housing and Community Development has awarded funds to produce 370 new units of affordable housing for veterans.

“On Veterans Day, we come together collectively to honor the brave men and women who have served in our armed forces” said Secretary Nee. “We honor the men and women of generations past and those who are currently serving overseas helping our nation stay safe. To all of our veterans, we say thank you for your service.”
During the ceremony, Governor Patrick announced $2 million in funding to repair the historic War Memorial Tower atop Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Mount Greylock State Reservation. Originally constructed between 1931and 1932, the 93 foot tower takes the form of a perpetually lit beacon to honor Massachusetts residents who died in World War I and subsequent conflicts. The tower has been closed to the public since August of 2013. The rehabilitation of the War Memorial Tower is expected to be completed by August of 2016. 
Special guests invited to attend ceremony:
The Adjutant General for Massachusetts, Major General L. Scott Rice gave the keynote address.
The Administration welcomed Medal of Honor Recipient and former DVS Commissioner Captain Tom Hudner. Captain Hudner was presented with a Chelsea Clock by Governor Deval Patrick in recognition of his service to the nation and his service to the Commonwealth as Commissioner of DVS from 1991-1999. 
The Massachusetts Medals of Liberty were presented to the Belanger, Sherman and Demarisco Families for the loss of their loved ones in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The Massachusetts Medal of Liberty is open to all branches of the service and is awarded in the name of the Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as Commander-in-Chief of the Commonwealth to any Massachusetts serviceman or woman killed in action or who died as a result of wounds received in action. 
Also being honored were members of the Puerto Rican Veterans Monument Square Association for their service in the Armed Forces and their efforts to dedicate the first memorial in the nation honoring Puerto Rican veterans.
The State House ceremony also included a special tribute to women veterans, POWs and Gold Star Families.
About the Department of Veterans’ Services:
The Department of Veterans’ Services advocates on behalf of the Commonwealth's nearly 385,000 veterans, family members, and survivors. DVS works to secure federal compensation and other benefits for which veterans may be eligible. The Department also administers needs-based benefits program through Veterans' Service Officers throughout Massachusetts and provides state funding to organizations offering homeless shelter, transitional housing, and outreach services to veterans.
For more information go to: www.mass.gov/veterans.

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