The following includes press releases from the campaigns of those running for elected office in our area. Election Day is Nov. 4.
LYNNFIELD — Yesterday at the Old Meeting House on Lynnfield Common, Wakefield Republican Richard Tisei fought back against charges that he didn’t support funding to help veterans while he was a legislator on Beacon Hill.
Tisei’s opponent, Salem Democrat Seth Moulton — a Marine veteran who served four tours in Iraq — has been critical of the way veterans are cared for both in the field and when they return home. Last week during a press event, Moulton decried the poor treatment of soldiers who were exposed to chemical weapons in Iraq, as detailed in a story in The New York Times.
Saying the story illustrates how the country is failing its veterans, Moulton added, “We also fail our veterans when career politicians like Richard Tisei vote against veterans benefits and vote against funding for disabled veterans.”
Moulton cited Tisei’s vote against the 2009 state budget when Tisei was a Republican state senator from Wakefield and the Senate minority leader. Moulton said that budget included $4.5 million for the Department of Veterans Services and $3.8 million for disabled veterans.
Tisei and Navy aviator and SEAL Gabriel Gomez called on Moulton to take down his “dishonest and false attack ad” on Richard’s record.
Tisei and Gomez appeared together at a press conference, flanked by veterans of World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. Moulton’s ad accuses Tisei of voting against funding for veterans and veterans’ services while in the state Senate.
“I think that if Seth Moulton were to go back to the men and women that he led, they would look at him, from the lowest enlisted person, to the most senior person, and say, ‘Seth, this isn’t you.’ I think they’d be very embarrassed,” Gomez said. “I think if Seth were to do the right thing, I think he’d look in the mirror and he’s asking himself what did he learn when he was a Marine Corps officer, what did he learn when he was serving our country? He’d come to the conclusion that this ad is so beyond the pale, so false and such a disgrace, that he would pull the ad off the air.”
Tisei also called on Moulton to take down the ad.
“I want to be very clear. There was never a vote taken in the state Senate to cut veterans benefits,” Tisei said. “Seth Moulton is being dishonest with this ad and if he’s true to his honor he will take this ad down.”
Wakefield’s Joe Bellavia, a former Lt. Colonel in the Army who lost his son in Iraq, spoke about the support Richard provided for his family and for others.
“I’ve known Richard for many years, he was my State Rep and my State Senator,” Bellavia said. “In 2003, when my son was killed in Iraq, Richard was one of the first people to call me to offer his condolences and asked if there was anything he could do. I did ask him and he did help me through some very tough times. He’s always been there for veterans and that’s the reason why he’s got my vote.”
Yesterday Medal of Honor recipient and former secretary of Veterans’ Services, Tom Kelley, called Moulton’s ad, “willfully incorrect.”
“Richard Tisei was one of our state’s strongest supporters of veterans during my time as Secretary of Veterans’ Services. To suggest that Richard is anything but a strong supporter of veterans is willfully incorrect and cynical. Richard was always someone we could depend on to ensure that veterans programs were funded generously and with bipartisan support.”
The press release continues that during Tisei’s tenure in the state Senate, he:
• Supported the ‘Welcome Home’ Bonus, established in 2005 to provide a $1,000 payment to soldiers serving in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan and an additional $500 payment to those who have served at least six months since Sept. 11, 2011. In addition, the act increased the annual annuity payment for blind, paraplegic and disabled veterans, as well as Gold Star Mothers, from $1,500 to $2,000.
• Co-sponsored legislation to exempt military pensions from the state income tax.
• Secured $2.3 million in funds for the New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans, which has provided residential care, education and training, health care and free legal services since 1990.
• Successfully fought Governor Patrick’s attempt to cut $1 million from funding for the Holyoke and Chelsea Soldiers Homes.
• Sponsored and passed a law that established “veteran’s preference” for state-owned housing in Massachusetts.
• Secured $20,000 in funding for the Malden Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
• Voted for “An Act to Provide Benefits for Veterans and Service members.” The bill made improvements in numerous areas, including voting rights, access to veterans’ services, employment and benefits.
• And never voted against veterans’ benefits during his entire tenure in the State House and State Senate.