Secretary Santiago’s visit follows budget testimony given before the Joint Committee of Ways and Means in support of Governor Healey’s FY24 budget proposal calling for an 11.3% increase in funding
GARDNER, MA – Executive Office of Veterans’ Services Secretary (EOVS) Jon Santiago visited the Montachusett Veterans Outreach Center (MVOC) to highlight proposed increased investments in veterans’ services throughout the Commonwealth. MVOC provides comprehensive integrated support services to veterans and their families to develop a resilient, self-sufficient lifestyle essential to succeed in today’s environment. Joined by Executive Director Stephanie Marchetti, EdD, and State Representative Jonathan Zlotnik, Secretary Santiago advocated for the $185.6 million proposed by Governor Maura Healey and Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll in their FY24 budget announced on March 1, 2023.
Since 2013, EOVS has provided MVOC with a total of $8M to support the Center’s homeless and outreach services to address veterans needs in North Central Massachusetts.
“Veterans in North Central Massachusetts are fortunate to have a strong partner in Stephanie Marchetti and the team here at the Montachusett Veterans Outreach Center,” said Secretary Santiago. “The Center makes a difference by providing local veterans with a whole host of supportive services related to food security, mental health support, transportation assistance, and housing. I look forward to continuing our partnership with MVOC and thank them for their tremendous efforts serving the North Central Massachusetts region.”
“MVOC is excited to welcome Secretary Santiago to our headquarters and discuss not just what we do, but how we can work together on priority issues facing our veterans. As a private nonprofit, it is so important that we connect with the veteran community throughout the state, and we are thrilled the Secretary has reached out so soon after his appointment as Secretary of Veterans’ Services,” said Stephanie Marchetti, EdD, executive director of MVOC.
“I’m very happy the Secretary is coming to my district to visit MVOC and the Massachusetts Veterans Cemetery. I served with Dr. Santiago in the House and I am excited about his appointment, the elevation of his department, and what these organizations in our community can do to continue to serve our veterans,” said State Representative Jonathan Zlotnik.
The MVOC is seeking to expand access to veterans housing in nearby Winchendon, Massachusetts, through the repurposing of two school buildings and transforming them into 44 new veteran apartments. The project will provide access to long-term and supportive housing designed to help veterans age in place.
Between 2021 and 2022, MVOC provided 13,000 individual services, including but not limited to more than 3,500 case management services, 2,355 housing assistance and support services, 1,064 counseling services, and additional assisting with processing of federal VA and Social Security claims.
Prior to his visit with MVOC, Secretary Santiago met with Richard Bastien, Director of the Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Winchendon, one of two cemeteries operated by the EOVS. He then testified before the Joint Committee on Ways and Means in Fitchburg in support of Governor Healey’s FY24 budget, the first to reflect the Executive Office of Veterans’ Services’ new Cabinet-level status. Governor Healey’s budget contained a total of $185.6 million in funding for the Executive Office of Veterans’ Services.