Press Release: 2020-10-16

Baker-Polito Administration Appoints Cheryl Lussier Poppe Secretary of Veterans’ Services

Baker-Polito Administration Appoints Cheryl Lussier Poppe Secretary of Veterans’ Services

BOSTON — Today, the Baker-Polito Administration announced the appointment of Cheryl Lussier Poppe as Secretary for the Department of Veterans’ Services (DVS). Poppe has served as Acting Secretary for DVS since June 2020 and has held leadership roles within DVS and at the state’s two Soldiers’ Homes in Chelsea and Holyoke.

A 30-year veteran of the Massachusetts National Guard, Poppe retired with the rank of Colonel in 2008. That same year, Poppe was appointed Deputy Secretary for Programs, Services and Personnel with DVS. Poppe continued her commitment to and leadership for the Commonwealth’s Veteran community throughout the past twelve years at DVS.

“For four decades Cheryl Lussier Poppe has served the Commonwealth with distinction, first with the Massachusetts National Guard and then within the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and at our two Soldiers’ Homes,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Time and time again, Cheryl has risen to the challenge to serve, and she has become indispensable to our Soldiers’ Homes, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. She is a leader of exceptional talent and unquestionable character and I am confident she will serve our veterans at the highest level, ensuring they receive the support and care they are entitled to.”

In 2014, Poppe was appointed Superintendent of the Soldiers’ Home in Chelsea, 139-bed long term care facility and 305 bed domiciliary established in 1882. In 2016, Governor Baker tapped Poppe to serve as Interim Superintendent of the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke, a 248-bed long term care facility and 30-bed domiciliary established in 1952.

“Cheryl brings the combination of military service, hands-on management and public sector leadership, and is the right person for the Secretary role,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders. “She is a strong leader, a tireless advocate for veterans, and an individual of exceptional character and commitment. She is undaunted by the challenges as we continue to operate in the new normal of COVID-19. I am confident in Cheryl’s commitment to serve our veterans with the utmost care and dignity.”

“It has been an honor to serve the Commonwealth of Massachusetts throughout my career, and a privilege to directly support veterans for more than a decade with the Department of Veterans’ Services,” said Department of Veterans’ Services Secretary Cheryl Lussier Poppe. “In assuming the role of Secretary, I reaffirm my commitment to our veterans as we navigate this unprecedented pandemic, ensure the safety of the veterans in our care, and strengthen our relationships and partnerships within the community.”

“I want to congratulate Cheryl Poppe on her appointment as the Secretary for the Department of Veterans’ Services,” said Tom Lyons, Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Soldiers’ Home in Chelsea. “I’ve had the opportunity to work with her at the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home where she demonstrated her commitment and dedication to our nation’s veterans. The veterans’ community needs her management and leadership skills as we move forward during these difficult times.”

“I first met Colonel Poppe when she was in the National Guard and worked very closely with her on programs like the Yellow Ribbon program to support our veterans,” said Thomas G. Kelley, former Massachusetts Secretary of Veterans’ Services and Medal of Honor Recipient. “When she retired from the Guard, I reached out to her to have her join the team at the Department of Veterans’ Services, and she always did a great job and handled her work on behalf of our veterans professionally. She continued to shine during her service, and I’m delighted that she’s continuing to serve the Commonwealth in this new capacity.”

Poppe spent 30 years in the Massachusetts National Guard, with over 13 years on active duty, serving in several capacities and achieving the rank of Colonel. In her final assignment with the Guard, Poppe was Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel, and in that capacity, oversaw personnel preparedness for one of the largest deployments of the Guard and became involved with the National Yellow Ribbon Working Group, which developed a template for state programs based on collaborations with federal and state agencies to assist service members’ reintegration with their families, employers and communities. Her passion for working with veterans led to her second career at the Massachusetts Department of Veterans’ Services upon her retirement from the military.

A hands-on leader, Poppe brings broad management expertise, including human resource management, contract administration, acquisition, diversity and inclusion, operations management, health, welfare and readiness programming, and budget execution.

Poppe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from the University of Rhode Island and a Master’s in Business Administration from Salem State University as well as United States Army Command and General Staff College. She resides with her family in Salem, the birthplace of the National Guard.

About the Department of Veterans’ Services

The Department of Veterans’ Services (DVS) works to advocate on behalf of all the Commonwealth’s veterans and provide them with quality support services for veterans and their dependents who are in need. DVS offers safety net benefits to eligible veterans in partnership with local Veteran Service Officers, operates the Statewide Advocacy for Veterans' Empowerment (SAVE) program to connect veterans with mental health resources and referrals to other needed resources, and operates Massachusetts’ two Veteran Memorial Cemeteries in Agawam and Winchendon. DVS oversees the state’s two soldiers’ homes, the Soldiers’ Home in Chelsea and the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke, which primarily focus on providing two major services for Massachusetts veterans: long term care and domiciliary residential services (room accommodations, daily meals, and a variety of social services). Established in 1952, The Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke has 248 long-term care beds and 30 domiciliary beds, and also offers outpatient health care, hospice care, on-site dental services, a veterans’ assistance center, and a multi-service outpatient department. Established in 1882 and located atop Powder Horn Hill, the Soldiers’ Home in Chelsea has 139 LTC beds, and 305 domiciliary residential beds.