Senator Joe Pennacchio lambasted Democrats and the governor’s administration’s handling of State-run veterans homes after an investigation conducted by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) revealed constitutionally deficient care for residents at memorial homes at Menlo Park and Paramus.
“This administration failed our veterans. From the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, hundreds of our heroes have died due to inadequate medical care and a lack of effective management and oversight,” said Pennacchio (R-26). “This report is so damning that even Joe Biden’s DOJ can’t spin how badly our Veterans homes were handled. After three years of inaction from Democrats in the Legislature stonewalling calls for a comprehensive investigation, it is now time to hold this administration accountable for the harm done to veterans and nursing home residents.”
The Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey announced today that there is reasonable cause to believe that residents at two State-run Veterans homes were subject to unreasonable risk and harm.
Specifically, the investigation found that veterans constitutional rights were violated as a result of inadequate infection control practices, inadequate medical care, and a lack of management and oversight which subjected residents of these veterans homes to serious and often deadly infections.
Senator Joe Pennacchio sponsored a resolution, SR-32, to form a special legislative committee with subpoena power to conduct a legislative investigation. On six separate occasions, Senator Pennacchio urged lawmakers to approve his legislation and form the select committee only to be rejected by Democrats each time.
Former Senate President Steve Sweeney agreed to form a bipartisan Review and Recovery Committee in 2020 to investigate the administration’s response to the pandemic, but never followed through and the committee was never formed.
“This DOJ report is devastating. Our veterans risked their lives to defend this country but were left defenseless by this administration’s disastrous management of veterans homes during the pandemic,” Pennacchio added. “They should be ashamed of themselves and so should every Democrat who stonewalled legislative attempts to investigate these atrocities. The great veterans of New Jersey deserve so much better.”