– Rep. Karen Boback (R-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Wyoming), majority chairman of the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, held a joint public hearing on Thursday with the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee on veterans home care and COVID-19 mitigation protocols.
“Today we heard from numerous individuals and organizations who deal with the care and oversight of our state veterans homes,” said Boback. “The issues outlined by our panels and discussed by the members today proved one thing: unfortunately there were many failures that led to the untimely deaths of our veterans within our veterans homes across the Commonwealth.
“By calling a joint public hearing between the House and Senate committees, we are focused on getting to the bottom of what happened in these homes during the COVID-19 pandemic and drafting solutions so that tragedies like these never happen again. I feel confident with the new leadership at the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) and better guidance focusing on compliance and oversight, dramatic problems like we have seen within our veterans homes will not happen again. Continued coordination between the General Assembly and these agencies will ensure that our veterans receive the utmost care they deserve.”
The public hearing of the committees provided members the opportunity to hear of the work and progress departments and agencies have made during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those present were Maj. Gen. Mark Schindler, acting adjutant general, DMVA; Col. Maureen Hopkins Weigl, deputy adjutant general of veteran affairs, DMVA; Patricia Derry, deputy for the office of administration, DMVA; Marc Ferraro, executive deputy secretary, DMVA; Travis Davis, director for the bureau of veterans homes, DMVA; Keara Klinepeter, executive deputy secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Health; James Ulinski, Vietnam veteran; and Gordon Denlinger, deputy auditor general for audits, Pennsylvania office of Auditor General.
The hearing can be viewed below.
Rep. Karen Boback (R-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Wyoming), majority chairman of the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, presides over the joint hearing with Sen. Pat Stefano (R-Fayette/Somerset/Westmoreland), majority chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee.