WILMINGTON, MA — At last week’s Wilmington Board of Selectmen’s Meeting, Veterans Director Lou Cimaglia took a few moments to respond to criticism levied against him and his department by Selectman Candidate Kevin MacDonald.
“I’d like to stand up here and defend my department,” began Cimaglia during the ‘Public Comments’ portion of the meeting. “There’s a person running for Selectmen that, every time he has a microphone in front of him, likes to bash the Department of Veterans Services. Unfortunately, he already left [tonight’s meeting]. I’m not calling him a coward, but he IS a coward. He was going to, perhaps, stand up and say something again, but he knew I was here.”
“For him to stand up in front of a microphone every chance he get and bashe me personally, and my department, is just wrong,” continued Cimaglia. “That’s just his sytle. I wish he was here [right now]. I would tell him to his face.”
One of MacDonald’s complaints was that Cimaglia was denying veterans’ claims. Cimaglia took offense to the allegation and clarified the claims process.
“I’m not a denying department. The state [issues or] denies state benefits. The VA either issues or denies federal benefits,” explained Cimaglia. “If there’s a veteran that needs help, send them our way. We will get them all that they are elgible for and that they qualify for.”
Cimaglia also thanked the six veterans in the audience who showed up to support him.
“It bothered them too about getting our department bashed,” noted Cimaglia.
“We wanted to show how grateful we are for Lou,” said Frank Keating of the American Legion’s “Dirty Water Crew.” “He’s helped us quite a bit… including recently helping us gather supplies for homeless veterans…. Lou is always there for us and attends our Gold Star family events.”
Another veteran chimed in that he was present to “support a guy that has gone way above and beyond for veterans.”
“As far as Lou goes, he basically works 16-18 hours a day. He’s always in the office. He’s always on the phone. He’s constantly supporting the veterans in this community,” added Police Chief Michael Begonis. “I know our departments sometimes take criticisms, but [MacDonald’s comments] couldn’t be any further off the mark. Lou supports the veterans. He fights for them daily. We have one of the best [Veterans Director] right here.”
“It’s a labor of love. You meet very few people in your lifetime that love what they do and get paid doing it. I couldn’t be happiper for you to have the job that you have,” Board of Selectmen Chair Judy O’Connell told Cimaglia. “The job is so you. You’re so good at what you do. And you’ve made a difference in so many lives. I just can’t thank you enough…. You’re an absolute doll and you’ll always be a sweetheart to me. ”
The other members of the Board of Selectmen also praised Cimaglia’s job performance.
Wilmington Apple reached out to Kevin MacDonald to ask him for reaction to Cimaglia’s defense of his department.
“I did not know Mr. Cimaglia was going to speak. He was not on the agenda. I have stood up at plenty of meetings where Lou Cimaglia was in attendance and criticized his actions and inactions. I will continue to do so in the future if needed,” explained MacDonald. “I stayed as long as I could due to a prior commitment. I did not plan on staying for the Judy O’Connell accolades and love fest. This would have been nauseating.”
“When I am elected, I will get to the bottom of things and find out why veterans are being denied veteran’s benefits when their financial situation is such that they can’t even afford to fix their car,” continued MacDonald. “I am bothered by the fact that veterans return from serving their country, who put their lives on the line and sacrifice body parts, and come home to find that dogs and cats and animals are treated better in animal hospitals than vets are treated in VA hospitals. You will see me rally vets together like you have never seen before to fix this horrific mess.”
Like Wilmington Apple on Facebook. Follow Wilmington Apple on Twitter. Follow Wilmington Apple on Instagram. Subscribe to Wilmington Apple’s daily email newsletter HERE. Got a comment, question, photo, press release, or news tip? Email email@example.com.