BOSTON (CBS) – Sheryl Blais’s dad Robert was always there for her and she says he still is. “I know he is behind me 100 percent, his hands are on my shoulders pushing me forward,” Blais said.
The Navy veteran was one of the 76 who died of Covid-19 at the Holyoke Soldiers Home. While grateful criminal charges have now been filed against the two former leaders of the state facility, she knows it is a long road to justice.
“I am really, really happy that they are being held accountable,” Blais said.
Laurie Mandeville Beaudette’s father Jim, who also served in the Navy was living in the home when he got the coronavirus and died. “My dad is up in heaven,” Laurie told WBZ. “I will fight as long as I can breathe for him. I know he’s proud. He was heartbroken that I wasn’t allowed to be in the facility. And to me that was torture. My heart was breaking more every day.”
In addition to the criminal charges, more than 20 families have filed a civil rights wrongful death lawsuit against the former heads of the home and three others including the former Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs Francisco Urena.
“They fought in war and risked their lives for this country to be treated so disrespectfully it’s awful,” Blais said. “As a family member it stays with you every second of the day.”
The families say they are still waiting for the results of the U.S. Attorney’s investigation into the home.