Legislators have given initial approval to sweeping administrative changes at the two state-run soldiers’ homes, following the deaths of 77 residents of the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home near the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. DeCoste previously served on the special joint oversight committee that was established in the wake of these deaths, which cited “systemic governance failures” and “long-standing staffing deficiencies” at the facility as contributing factors. Another 38 COVID-related deaths were reported at the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home.
“As a legislator, David has been an outspoken advocate
for his fellow veterans and their families,” said Representative Jones. “He understands the importance of implementing meaningful reforms to ensure that our veterans receive the best possible care and services and to prevent a repeat of the terrible tragedy that claimed the lives of so many veterans during the pandemic.”
DeCoste is a 22-year veteran of the United States Army, where he achieved the rank of Major. He previously served as a member of the Massachusetts Post-Deployment Commission, which was created in 2016 to develop recommendations for programs to assist the state’s service members as they transition to civilian life after deployment.
Joining DeCoste on the conference committee are the chairs of the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs, Representative Paul McMurtry (D-Dedham) and Senator John Velis (D-Westfield), along with Representative Joseph Wagner (D-Chicopee), Senator Mike Rush (D-Boston) and Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester).
In 2018, DeCoste was a member of the conference committee that finalized the BRAVE Act (An Act relative to veterans’ benefits, rights, appreciation, validation and enforcement), which expanded property tax exemptions and other state benefits for Massachusetts veterans. He later served on a special commission that developed recommendations to make higher education more affordable for those who have served in the military.
A member of the House of Representatives since 2015, DeCoste represents the Fifth Plymouth District, which is comprised of Hanover, Norwell and Rockland. He currently serves as the Ranking Minority Member of the Joint Committee on Housing, and as a member of the House Committee on Operations, Facilities and Security; the Joint Committee on Public Service; and the Joint Committee on Transportation.