Massachusetts Veterans’ Services Agency Gets New Leader

The Soldiers' Home in Holyoke. (Miriam Wasser/WBUR)
The Soldiers' Home in Holyoke. (Miriam Wasser/WBUR)

Cheryl Lussier Poppe was named secretary of the Massachusetts Department of Veterans’ Services on Thursday, replacing the former leader of the agency who resigned amid an investigation into dozens of coronavirus-related deaths at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home.
Poppe, who has been the agency’s acting head since Francisco Urena resigned in June, retired in 2008 with the rank of colonel after a 30-year career in the Massachusetts National Guard. She has previously served as superintendent of both the Holyoke and the Chelsea soldiers’ homes, state-run facilities for aging and infirm veterans.

“In assuming the role of Secretary, I reaffirm my commitment to our veterans as we navigate this unprecedented pandemic, ensure the safety of the veterans in our care, and strengthen our relationships and partnerships within the community,” Poppe said in a statement.
Poppe has served the state with distinction, Gov. Charlie Baker said.
“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,” he said.
The Holyoke facility had one of the deadliest coronavirus outbreaks at a long-term care facility in the country, with 76 residents dying after contracting the disease.



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