Gov. Maura Healey signed an executive order Friday reworking a council tasked with advising the governor on veterans’ services, a move she said shows the administration’s “dedication” to advocating for the rights of former service members.
The Governor’s Advisory Council on Veterans’ Services will meet four times a year and be tasked with producing a written report every two years, a change from the annual reporting requirement former Gov. Charlie Baker his version of the council.
Healey’s order comes after she created a new executive office focused on veteran’s services earlier this year and appointed former state Rep. Jon Santiago — a captain in the United States Army Reserve — to lead it.
“This council represents another step forward in our mission to prioritize the diverse experiences of our service members and will play a crucial role in our efforts to elevate veterans’ services statewide,” Healey said in a statement.
Baker issued a similar advisory council order in 2016, tasking a 12-member body with advising him on issues related to veterans and how best to support the community, according to the order. Members on his version of the council were unpaid and served for three years.
Healey’s version follows a similar path, though it lays out more guidelines for who will serve on the council.
The membership must represent “not only geographically diverse parts of the commonwealth, but also including indigenous veterans and reflecting our inhabitants’ diversity of race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, ability, immigration status, and economic status,” the order said.
Santiago will serve as chair of the council and include the chair of the Women’s Advisory Council of Veteran Affairs.
“The council shall review and assess federal and state laws and regulations and existing programs and services relating to veterans to enhance the lives of veterans and their families in the commonwealth,” Healey’s executive order said.
Santiago said the Healey administration “stands firmly committed to supporting and engaging veterans of all backgrounds and zip codes.”
“The membership of this esteemed council will encompass the diverse range of experiences among thousands of service members across our state,” he said in a statement.