By William Tauro
He served four tours of duty as well as was wounded in combat protecting our great nation and now he claims that the City of Somerville has turned it’s back on him now that he’s homeless and has nowhere to stay.
Sean Walsh, a 25 year disabled US Army Veteran former tank crewman who served four tours of duty who provided us with a copy of his military 214 record that included Operation Desert Storm, Afghanistan, Mobilization of the Star Wars Project, wounded in Iraq in 2006 and spend two years in the Fort Camble Kentucky Blanchfield Army Community Hospital where he received an honorable discharge by the US Government after being wounded in combat in Iraq. Sean also suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and has a mesh that was surgically inserted across his stomach.
Sean stated that “Even when he was halfway around the world fighting in combat for years, his home ZIP Code was always still 02145, Somerville. He also stated that “He and his wife need help now and that they would also be willing to repay the city back once they get themselves back on their feet.”
Walsh now 49 years old, who is totally disabled and recently became homeless walked into Somerville City Hall to plead with the mayor for desperately needed emergency assistance, but only to be turned away with his wife on Friday, the first day of Memorial Day Weekend with many unanswered questions and a unprofessional horrific experience.
Walsh resides with his wife Joeanna who is also disabled and two pet cats and lives in deplorable conditions unfit for any human being atop of the salt piles that’s located underneath route 93 in Somerville between Broadway and Middlesex Avenue.
He told us that he has a shovel and every night he digs a burro in the salt pile to provide sleeping accommodations for his wife, himself and their two pet cats.
His wife Joeanna Walsh told us the earlier that day before, her husband and her were at the food pantry sponge-bathing at the water bubbler where her husband Sean even helped her wash her hair so that they would look presentable when and if they got to meet the mayor.
On Friday morning, the Walsh’s made their way slowly from the salt pile to Somerville City Hall pushing a shopping cart used to maintain Sean’s balance, that contained all their worldly possessions as well as the couple’s two cats.
While talking with us, Sean retrieved a plastic bag from the shopping cart of pre-smoked discarded cigarette butts that they pickup off the ground and nervously began smoking one before entering city hall.
Walsh said once in the mayor’s office they spoke to Mayor Curtatone’s secretary Barbara where they told her that they had thoughts of attempting to stay at the Somerville Main Library to sleep this weekend if needed that’s located on Highland Avenue.
Sean Walsh informed Curtatone’s secretary that Mayor Joseph Curtatone recently once rallied that he would put up undocumented immigrants there if needed be in an emergency situation, but they told us that they were refused assistance through those doors as well by Barbara who was said to have replied to the Walsh’s that she “Never heard of that and that It was new to her?”
When asked by the Walsh’s if she could contact the mayor and if she would tell the mayor about this they told us that Mayor Curtatone’s secretary Barbara replied “No she would not.” Joanna also stated that the secretary was not helpful at all but replied “I’ll call you” that she would call the couple in the near future and “To come back on Tuesday.”
Walsh told us that “This City of Somerville is not for any veterans because they even canceled our Memorial Day Parade because nobody cares up at City Hall anymore. They only care and show their faces during election time, other then that they have no use for you!”
Walsh also said that “If I was an undocumented immigrant in trouble and and asked for shelter at the library, he or she will be granted refuge here as well as granted the privilege of a temporary roof over their heads while the emergency at hand gets resolved, but me, a four-tour-of-duty homeless veteran they turned their backs on me.”
Joeanna Walsh told us that all of this comes just a day after the couple were disrespected at the Somerville Super Stop & Shop that’s located on McGrath Highway in Somerville by the store manager named Nick.
Walsh and his wife claim that the day before that on Thursday, he and his wife were at the super Stop & Shop sitting on a customer courtesy bench located in front of the store charging their cellphone and drinking a coffee when they were rudely asked to leave the property by the store manager telling them that “You people have been here too long and it’s time for you to leave.”
Joanna Walsh hearing this coming out of the store manager’s mouth quickly pulled a store receipt out of her pocket for recently purchased items of $45 just minutes before where she informed the manager in which they just did shopping for the homeless group and they were sitting there drinking a cup of coffee that was also just purchased from the Dunkin’ Donuts inside the store.
Joanna also stated that when the couple have to use a restroom that they usually walk to the Dunkin Donuts that’s located on Broadway at McGrath Highway where they always charge the couple two dollars to use the facility.
After all of this ordeal leaving the Walsh’s emotionally crushed and felling unwanted they turned to Somerville Veterans Affairs Department Director Byran Bishop where they were told that there is nothing that the department can do for them because he makes a few dollars above the income guidelines with his government disability payment so that disqualifies him. But Director Bishop, who has a soft spot as well as a heart of gold when it comes to veterans, especially homeless disabled veterans, was heartfelt already heard the Walshes story about your living conditions and took to matter into his own hands.
Bishop arranged for the Walsh’s emergency living accommodations and were given a five day courtesy stay with meals at the Somerville Holiday Inn.
In an interview with Bishop he told us that “At least this will give the Walsh’s a little time to get their finacial status in order until their next military disability payment check comes in so that they came move a step forward in life.”
With tearing eyes, the Walsh’s told us that “Thanks to the kindhearted efforts of Somerville Veterans Service Director Byran Bishop for taking the time to help people especially a fellow veteran, that he is an angel sent from above.”
The Walsh’s also expressed to us that “Hopefully someday the mayor’s office will have a change of heart and help more veterans out when they are in an extreme emergency situation as they were.”
They also stated that “They were hoping that the mayor would hopefully reach out to them, If he could in the near future help the couple out with priority housing and whatever they need to get off the streets and begin their lives in Somerville especially being respected again.”
A statement from Stop & Shop Spokesperson Philip Tracey reads:
“We sincerely apologize if there was any misunderstanding between one of our store associates and this couple regarding the use of seating outside our East Somerville store. Stop & Shop is committed to serving our customers and the greater Somerville community.”
At the time of this interview, the mayor’s office nor Mayor Joseph Curtatone were available for an interview due to that city hall was closed for the long Memorial Day Weekend holiday and they could not be reached for comment.
Also not available for comment was the manager of the Broadway Dunkin Donuts.
A gofundme page has been set up for this US Veteran and his wife to help get them on their feet again! This go fund me page was set up by a very dear kind hearted person named Virginia Hussey daughter of Theresa Hussey who is also a disabled US Veteran. Please click on link below to donate thank you!