Friday, January 15, 2010

Governor Patrick Does An 'About Face' And Restores Soldiers' Home Funding He Had Cut

It must be an election year. How else to explain Governor Patrick's sudden epiphany that led him to restore funding for outpatient clinic services for veterans at the Chelsea and Holyoke Soldiers' Homes?

As veterans from across the state converged on the State House Wednesday morning for a "Save Our Services" rally (left), Patrick released a statement, which read in part: "The service and sacrifice of our veterans is never to be underestimated or undervalued, and the gradual recovery of our economy makes it possible for us to fix this problem now."

What the governor neglected to mention was that he was the one who created the problem when he used his 9C powers to slash approximately $2 million in funding for the two Soldiers' Homes last October. He later vetoed a partial restoration of this funding, spearheaded by Senator Michael Knapik, which the Legislature had included in a November supplemental budget. The governor's actions were a slap in the face to the Commonwealth's veterans, who were denied the dignity and respect they rightfully deserve for their service to our state and our nation.

If Governor Patrick was hoping to gain any political traction by restoring the funding, his plan appears to have backfired. After all, if he truly valued the sacrifices made by our state's veterans, why would he have cut these services in the first place, and then blocked an attempt by the Legislature to restore a portion of the funding?

It wasn't that long ago that the governor's cuts forced veterans and their families to scramble to find alternative health care providers when the Holyoke and Chelsea clinics were shut down. That's something they're sure to remember when they head to the polls in November.