Holyoke community left with more questions than answers in death of 13 veterans at Soldiers’ Home

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HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – The Holyoke community is mourning the deaths of the veterans at the Soldiers’ Home.

Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse doesn’t believe enough actions were taken to protect veterans and staff members from the coronavirus. On Tuesday, 22News learned a total of 13 veterans (Monday was 11) had died at the facility and six of them tested positive for the coronavirus (Monday was 5).

The Holyoke Soldiers Home is the latest assisted living facility where the coronavirus has taken lives. Mayor Alex Morse blames the spread of the virus there on the facility’s leadership. Holyoke Soldiers’ Home superintendent Bennett Walsh was put on paid administrative leave after the veteran deaths were announced.

“This is unacceptable,” said Mayor Morse. “And a disservice to everyone who lives there and works there and we at this point need to recommit ourselves at every form of government to just do it better.”

Mayor Morse ordered the flags at City Hall to fly at half staff in honor of the veterans who passed away. 22News spoke with the wife of one of the veterans who died from COVID-19.

“He had a very bad dementia so he was in pretty bad shape from that,” said Patricia Cowden, wife of the late veteran. “I am very sad that he is gone I feel l like a string has been cut from my heart to him. There was always a feeling of connection.”

Local veterans are also mourning the loss of these vets.

“It’s a terrible thing, I mean I talked to veterans this morning and they are depressed. It’s like how can you let that happen?” asked Paul Mina of Springfield, son of a WWII veteran. “We’ve got to care for our veterans all the time as if they were heroes, cuz they are.”

The CEO of Western Massachusetts hospital, Val Liptak will assume responsibility for the administration of the Soldiers’ Home at this time.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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