Baker names Poppe secretary of vet services
Had been filling role for 4 months on interim basis
GOV. CHARLIE BAKER appointed Cheryl Lussier Poppe as secretary of veterans’ services on Thursday, four months after she began filling the role on an interim basis after Francisco Urena resigned just before the release of a report on what led to the COVID-19 deaths of 76 veterans at the state-run Holyoke Soldiers’ Home.
“Time and time again, Cheryl has risen to the challenge to serve, and she has become indispensable to our Soldiers’ Homes, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Baker said in a statement. “She is a leader of exceptional talent and unquestionable character and I am confident she will serve our veterans at the highest level, ensuring they receive the support and care they are entitled to.”
Attorney General Maura Healey recently indicted two former top officials at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home — superintendent Bennett Walsh and Dr. David Clinton — on 10 criminal neglect charges each for allegedly combining healthy veterans with symptomatic and asymptomatic COVID-19 patients in a single unit. Walsh and Clinton face arraignment on November 5.The Department of Veterans’ Services is tasked with advocating on behalf of all the Commonwealth’s veterans and providing them with support services. The agency offers safety net benefits and mental health resources to eligible veterans. It also noversees the state’s two soldiers’ homes.
Poppe retired from the Massachusetts National Guard in the position of colonel after a 30-year career in 2008. She’s been with the Department of Veterans’ Services for the past 12 years.