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Mass. Rep. Richard Neal visits Holyoke Veterans’ Home as construction continues

Months after ground was broken on the new Holyoke Veterans’ Home, Massachusetts Congressman Richard Neal was back at the facility Tuesday to tour the site as work continues.

Neal, a Democrat from the 1st district, toured the Massachusetts Veterans Home at Holyoke as construction continues outside of the building.

As veterans continue to receive care inside what was once known as the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, workers have been laying the foundation for what will eventually be a new 350,000-square foot facility.

Ground was broken on the $483 million project back in 2023, with Congressman Neal on hand as well as Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey.

Nearly eight months later, the foundation for the facility is being poured as crews, dump trucks, and a massive crane keep working.

“The Department of Veterans Affairs, they have a list of prioritization and we certainly were able to move this along at a pretty good pace with Secretary McDonough,” Neal said. “And, I think that people are going to be very proud of this building and this facility and the grounds when they see it completed.”

Speaking with reporters, Neal said the facility dating back to 1952 had long been showing signs of wear and tear.

Plans to tear down the old building and replace it were propelled in recent years, following a COVID-19 outbreak in 2020 that left at least 76 veterans dead and state officials investigating leadership at the building.

Both the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home’s former superintendent and former medical director were later indicted for criminal neglect charges. Both changed their pleas last week, leading to their cases being continued without a finding for three months under certain conditions.

Neal declined to comment on the developments.

Massachusetts Secretary of Veterans Services Dr. Jon Santiago was among the officials who took part in the tour.

He says steps have been taken at the facility to ensure an outbreak as devastating as 2020’s never happens again.

“What you see behind us is the beginning of a transformation that is already underway,” he said. “Thanks to the leadership of Superintendent Lazo, General Collins here - we put in mechanisms, policies, procedures here to make sure that what happened here during COVID will never happen again.”

The new facility is still several years from completion, but will boast everything from 234 long-term care beds to amenities such as a dental suite, Adult Health Day Program, and a Memory Care Floor.

Also part of the designs are a geothermal heating and cooling system, a chapel, and multiple gardens.

And according to project manager Joe Fazio, construction work is currently ahead of schedule, with construction of the building’s steel frame likely to start in the weeks ahead.

“We will take occupancy of the building in late 2026,” Fazio said. “All veterans should be moved into the new facility in early 2027. And then, we'll begin to take down the existing facility afterwards.”

Through a memorandum of agreement between the veterans’ home and the VA, department committed at least $263 million to the project.

While on the tour, Neal recalled visiting his grandfather and his uncle at the facility in the past, and emphasized the special significance it has for its residents and their families.

“For so many people that come here - this is the last stop, this is home. And I think we need to remember that,” Neal said.

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