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veterans

September 9, 2019 - 9:01am
Event Date and Time: 
September 28, 2019 - 9:00am to 5:30pm

Mission 22 - 22 to None Fun Run
September 28th, 2019 • The Firing Pin, 8240 Buffalo Road, Bergen, NY 14416. 585-494-0333.
2.2K Fun Run • Chinese Auction • Live Music • Food Trucks • Guest Speakers • Craft Beer Tent by Eli Fish Brewing Co.

September 8, 2019 - 1:45pm

Check out the great big football tailgate party Sunday, Sept. 22, hosted by the American Warrior Festival and The Original Red Osier Landmark Restaurant in Stafford.

Wear your favorite team's apparel and join the all-American fun in the restaurant's parking lot, 6492 E. Main St. (Route 5), Stafford.

Event starts at noon and goes until it stops! Rain or shine!

Here's what will be offered:

  • All you-can-eat smoked buffet for $25, featuring smoked chicken wings, smoked BBQ ribs, smoked pulled pork, plus prime rib chili, cajun corn, salt potatoes and mac salad;
  • Live football games on up to three large-screen TVs;
  • Live acoustic music by local musicians;
  • VA Vet Center services (veteran benefits);
  • Smoke and donate cigars to Cigars for Warriors;
  • Beer tasting with Dublin Corners Farm Brewery;
  • Bourbon tasting;
  • Wine tasting;
  • Two 42-inch television raffles, with half the proceeds going to WNYHeroes.org and Mission 22 in association with The Firing Pin LLC in Bergen;
  • Beer Garden;
  • Classic Raiders vs. Bills games playing all day;
  • Raiders and Bills merchandise.
September 6, 2019 - 11:44am
posted by Billie Owens in veterans, VA Medical Center, healthcare, Car Show, batavia.

Press release: 

VA Western New York Healthcare System’s Batavia site will host a car show and veterans enrollment event from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 14..

Veterans will have the opportunity to enroll in the VA health care system and have access to information to apply for other Veteran benefits.

To streamline applications and determine eligibility, veterans are highly encouraged to bring their DD-214 discharge papers and tax return from 2018.

The "Cruising for Veterans" car show will be staged behind Building 5 of the Jack Wisby Jr. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Building.

Merchandise and food will be available for sale starting at 10 a.m. through the Batavia Medical Center’s Veteran Canteen Service located on the ground floor of Building 1.

In the event of rain, the car show’s makeup date is the following day, Sunday, Sept. 15. The public is encouraged to attend.

The Batavia VA Medical Center is located at 222 Richmond Ave. in the City of Batavia.

September 4, 2019 - 12:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in veterans, Veterans Services Office, news, notify.

billjoyceimg_5765.jpg

The other day, William Joyce, director of Veterans Services in Genesee County, assisted yet another veteran from outside the county with a Veterans Administration issue.

The veteran had been to the VA in Erie County and complained to a fellow veteran about his difficulties and that veteran told him, "Go see Bill Joyce in Genesee County."

The word is getting around, Joyce told members of the Genesee County Legislature, that Joyce does something other Veterans Services officers in other counties don't do: His job.

"In some counties the VSO doesn't want to do his job," Joyce said. "They just want to sit in the director's chair. They don't want to run a full-service office."

In the past year, the Genesee County office had 5,917 contacts with veterans and provided 7,324 acts of client service. While most of the veterans who come through the office are from Genesee County, a growing percentage are from neighboring counties.

"I don't care where you come from," Joyce said. "I'm here to serve veterans and their families."

A trained and experienced VSO is an asset to veterans dealing with an overburdened and bureaucratic Veterans Administration and other government agencies. 

In his department review, Joyce reported that his office has sent 1,540 original compensation/pension claims to the regional office for adjudication. The Buffalo Regional Office currently has a backlog of 2,750 claims and there are more than 650,000 nationally.

Of those, 225,000 have been pending for more than 125 days. The average case in Buffalo has been pending for 135 days. The regional goal is to reduce that wait time to 125 days.

Since May, Joyce reported, 75 cases have been resolved that had been pending for more than a year.

Locally, the office also helped 151 Genesee County veterans apply for property tax exemptions.

The office also works with the Department of Social Services on benefits eligibility for veterans and this can sometimes help reduce the county cost for Medicaid benefits. He said of 92 referrals, 63 veterans or widows qualified for federal VA benefits.

A mentorship program is also helping veterans find jobs and stay out of trouble. Since 2009, 43 veterans have gone through the county's Veterans Treatment Court with no repeat offenders.

The local office is also assisting veterans and their families with interment arrangements at the new veterans cemetery in Pembroke. Construction of the cemetery begins this fall.

With all this activity, legislators asked Joyce how he keeps up. He said if given the choice between adding another VSO or keeping his secretary, he would keep his secretary. She does half the work, he said, and when she's gone, it falls on him to answer phones, make appointments, and complete some paperwork.  

"I can't do without a secretary," he said, while acknowledging county funds are tight so he doesn't expect any additional help.

August 23, 2019 - 3:55pm
posted by Billie Owens in notre dame high school, Vietnam, batavia, alexander, veterans.

Above, Marine veteran and former Batavia resident Jim Heatherman. Photo courtesy of Jim Heatherman.

Editor's Note: Eighteen days apart in 1968 two 1964 Notre Dame High School graduates were killed in Vietnam. Today, on the 51st anniversary of one of their deaths, their classmate and fellow Vietnam vet Jim Heatherman remembers them and wishes he got to know them better.

Story by Jim Heatherman.

It has been 50 years since I was a Marine lieutenant in Vietnam. It doesn’t seem like it but it’s true. Longer still since I graduated from Notre Dame High School in Batavia. I think of those days often. Notre Dame was a fine school but certainly not heaven on Earth.

My friends and I were by no means angels when we went to school there. I remember helping to make hydrogen sulphide in the chemistry lab, which permeated the entire school with the smell of rotten eggs and nearly caused an evacuation.

Don’t get me wrong. I am a proud graduate of Notre Dame in 1964, a college graduate later, and a Marine Vietnam combat veteran later still.

Many of my family grew up, lived, and died in Batavia. My brother, Pat, and I regularly visit their gravesites although I now live in Tulsa, Okla. My friend, Dave Reilly, has written wonder articles for The Batavian reminiscing those youthful days in Batavia.

Incidentally, we older people think in our minds and hearts that we are still young people living back in the 1960s. We try to ignore the pains in our knees...and, well, everywhere else, too.

I don’t think we spent much time thinking of the world situation including Vietnam when we were in high school. We were accepting our role as average teenagers thinking mostly of driving, girls, and sports. Since most of the girls didn’t particularly care for us we were able to focus mostly on the other two things.

Of course there were other guys in our class who were better looking, smarter, and all around cooler than we were and they got the girls. I wonder whatever happened to them. And then we had other classmates who were not members of our group and we didn’t think much about knowing them at all.

One of them was Daniel Bermingham (inset photo, left), who I remember as a pleasant person but not particularly cool...like we thought we were. (He was killed on Aug. 23, 1968 in Vietnam.)

Another was Thomas Welker (inset photo, below right), who with others was bussed into Notre Dame daily from a farm community.

Like Dan, Tom was an outsider to our group and we hardly got to know him. Unfortunately that did not change through four years of high school. I’d like to think that we are now wiser than we were then. That is our blessing but it is also our curse.

Well I graduated from Notre Dame, went on to college and joined a Naval ROTC unit. When I graduated from college I was happily commissioned a Marine 2nd Lieutenant. I come from a Marine Corps family so that result was expected and inevitable.

After additional training at Quantico, Va., I got orders to WESTPAC Ground Forces. That meant Vietnam, of course. I was fortunate to survive my combat tour in Vietnam as an infantry platoon commander and battalion staff officer.

I spent several more years in the Marine Corps and then returned to civilian life. I got married and had five children. They all went to Catholic school, too, and are all college graduates.

The four boys are Marine combat veterans in Iraq and Afghanistan, later became federal agents, and one is now a United States Attorney.

My daughter is a wonderful teacher in a Catholic school in Tulsa. I go there and mostly talk about Revolutionary and Civil War battles, although the kids want to talk about Vietnam, too. I have 15 grandchildren. I go to many, many sports events. I think often how blessed I am to have that family.

Then I think of Dan and Tom -- the guys that we never really got to know in high school. When most of us were happily running off to college in 1964 they were both preparing to join the Navy.

Dan became a member of a Naval Construction Force battalion -- the Seabees -- and was eventually sent to Vietnam. People in those positions rarely die in combat but Dan was killed.

He is buried in St. Joseph Cemetery in Batavia, only 50 yards from my grandparents. I want to visit there often and leave a memento.

Tom received medical training in the Navy and became a Corpsman. Eventually he was sent to Vietnam and, of course, assigned to a Marine infantry unit.

As a Marine myself, I can tell you that no one is more revered by the Marines they serve than the Navy Corpsmen. They are always known as “Doc.” Tom was killed on a patrol with the Marines he served. He is buried in Attica.

I read in an article that his mother never really recovered from the loss of her son. I’m sure she is not alone.

Looking back now, I think of two things. As a very fortunate head of a family of 27 people today, I think of the void and unfulfilled promise that was cut down for Tom and Dan and so many others in Vietnam. The wives, children, and grandchildren that never were. Also, as a wiser and a bit more humble person now, I think that just being the goofy teenagers we were in those days should not have been an excuse for not knowing and appreciating our Notre Dame classmates, Tom and Dan, more.

Yet I’m sure we are not alone either. Wouldn’t it be nice after all these years to have a do-over?

Inset photos courtesy of Dave Reilly.

August 21, 2019 - 9:50am

Submitted photo and press release:

When Lucy Minor stopped by Crossroads House to donate a power wheelchair used by her late husband, Travis, Executive Director Jeff Allen knew there was a value to it far greater than a resale price.

“Some donations are meant to be shared, not sold,” Allen said.

He then reached out to Genesee County Interagency Council, a network of local agencies, which immediately made use of their email network to spread the word.

LeeAnn Mullen contacted Crossroads House to put them in touch with 94-year-old Navy veteran Henry Kisiel, who is contemplating joining Assemblyman Steve Hawley on his 12th Annual Patriot Trip to Washington, D.C., next month.

Kisiel hopes the wheelchair will help overcome some of the logistical obstacles of making the trip.

Assemblyman Hawley joined members of the Minor family who delivered the wheelchair to Kisiel on Monday afternoon.

Kiesel noted that he and Steve’s father served on the Town of Batavia Board together many years ago.

Representative Hawley said that seats are still available for the Sept. 19-22 trip and any veterans interested can inquire by calling Hawley’s office at 585-589-5780.

Pictured are Henry Kisiel in his new chair, along with Steve Hawley, Maddie Minor, Jeff Allen and Mike Minor.

August 19, 2019 - 11:27am

Submitted photo and press release:

Botts-Fiorito Post #576, American Legion in LeRoy hosted the 7th and 8th District “Membership Workshop” on Saturday, Aug. 17.

More than 40 representatives from 11 counties attended this event.

In observance of the 100th year Anniversary, the American Legion is aggressively seeking new members as a result of the “LEGION Act” -- Let Everyone Get Involved In Opportunities for National Service Act.

In a significant legislative victory for The American Legion, President Trump signed a bill July 30 that declares the United States has been in a state of war since Dec. 7, 1941.

The American Legion sought the declaration as a way to honor approximately 1,600 U.S. servicemembers who were killed or wounded during previously undeclared periods of war.

The LEGION Act also opens the door for approximately 6 million veterans to access American Legion programs and benefits for which they previously had not been eligible.

August 18, 2019 - 1:09pm

From Senator Charles Schumer:

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced Saturday that the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) has awarded a $23,337,281 contract to a company in Victor to begin construction on Phase 1A of the Western New York National Veterans Cemetery in Pembroke.

The nation's newest veterans cemetery will be located at 1232 Indian Falls Road in the Town of Pembroke. The cemetery site was originally 132 acres, then they purchased adjoining 60-acre and 77-acre parcels, closing on those early last year. Phase 1A construction encompasses 65 acres of the cemetery's total 269 acres.

“The awarding of this $23 million contract to Ontario County-based Global Urban Enterprise clears the way for the construction of the long-sought and sorely needed Western New York National Veterans Cemetery to, at long last, get underway," Senator Schumer said.

"Making this cemetery come to reality has been and remains one of my top priorities, and I won’t stop fighting until it comes to fruition."

Phase 1A of construction will create 4,000 gravesites, including roughly 2,500 gravesites for casket interments, and 1,500 in-ground sites for cremated remains.

When it is time to complete the project, Global Urban Enterprise in Victor will partner with Syracuse-based Hueber-Breuer Construction, along with other subcontractors to do the work.

Schumer said the establishment of the Genesee County cemetery is a well-deserved opportunity to honor the more than 96,000 veterans and family members in this region who will have a proper military burial at a site close to their homes, families, and communities they served and defended.

It will be the first and only of its kind in the Buffalo-Rochester area and will save thousands of military families from having to travel more than 100 miles in some cases to visit their loved ones at what is now the closest veterans' cemetery in Bath.

“This contract and the cemetery’s construction soon getting underway helps guarantee Western New York’s military veterans will have a proper burial, at a site close to the homes, families, and the very communities they dedicated their lives to defend and serve,” Schumer said.

According to guidance provided by the VA, the first burials are expected to occur at the cemetery by November/December 2020.

Veterans with a qualifying discharge, their spouses, and eligible dependent children may be buried in a VA national cemetery. Also eligible are military personnel who die on active duty, their spouses and eligible dependents.

Burial benefits available for all eligible veterans, regardless of whether they are buried in a national cemetery or a private cemetery, include a burial flag, a Presidential Memorial Certificate, and a government headstone or marker.

August 4, 2019 - 6:01pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Upton Monument, batavia, veterans, video.
Video Sponsor

One hundred years ago, in August 1919, the folks of Genesee County dedicated the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, better known as the Upton Monument. To commemorate the centennial of the monument, the Veterans Council and the American Legion conducted a rededication ceremony on Saturday.

August 2, 2019 - 3:27pm

(File photo.)

Led by the Joint Veterans Council of Genesee County, local veterans will host a rededication ceremony Saturday morning marking the centennial of the city's gateway monument at the junction of routes 5 and 63 that pays tribute to the Union Army's Emory Upton, the military service of men and women of Genesee County, and its war dead.

It starts at 10:30 a.m. and everyone is welcome.

Commonly referred to as the Upton Monument, for the statue of the colonel of the Fourth Regiment of Artillery, Army Brevit Major General Upton, it is officially known as The Soldiers and Sailors Monument. The actual marker at the base of the bald-eagle-topped pillar is engraved: In Memory of The Soldiers, Sailors and Marines of Genesee County.

Doug Doktor, chairman of the Joint Veterans Council, said that James Neider, of the Glenn S. Loomis American Legion Post 332 in Batavia, will provide a brief historical overview of Upton, one of the nation's foremost military strategists of the 19th century. Then Elijah Monroe, of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln Camp 6 in Rochester, will speak on that organization's instrumental role in fundraising and getting the monument constructed.

There will also be a rifle salute.

The dedication held a hundred years ago took place on Wednesday, Aug. 6, 1919.

According to City of Batavia Historian Larry Barnes, there was a morning footrace from Le Roy to Batavia, followed by the dedication ceremony at which a relation of the Upton family, Col. Upton, served as the keynote speaker. The special occasion was capped off by a grand display of fireworks at the old Genesee County Fairgrounds, where Tops Friendly Market is now on West Main Street.

Proposals for the monument were bandied about as early as the 1870s. But getting it funded and built was not a given. Its price tag of about $15,000 was considered steep. Funds were sought from the county, the city and fundraising campaigns were launched by Batavia City School District Superintendent John Kennedy and Sarah Upton Edwards, sister of Emory Upton.

In 1907, city voters nixed spending $5,000 as their share of the monument's cost. It was not until World War I that action was taken that would finally pave the way for the planned monument to become reality.

In 1917, city fathers managed to get the city's funding share approved by a bit of political maneuvering -- slipping language for the monument expense into a sewer and water appropriations bill.

The architect chosen to design the monument was C. A. Worden, a local company responsible for many monuments at Gettysburg.

Once built, there was controversy as to whether the statue of Emory Upton was based on the actual likeness of the man himself. And the question, some local historians say, has never been wholly resolved.

To read more about Emory Upton from an 1885 biography, click here.

Also, previously: 

(Editor's Note: Publisher Howard Owens had planned to complete a video of the history of the monument in time for tomorrow's rededication. That is no longer possible, but he does hope to finish it very soon.)

July 31, 2019 - 10:47am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, news, veterans.

Press release:

Representatives from Batavia Downs have announced that Michele Ladd, the founder of National Veteran Resources, will be bringing their 32-foot wrapped RV to the Tanya Tucker Concert this Friday, Aug. 2nd, at Batavia Downs.

The National Veteran Resources website aims to help veterans and first responders get resources for PTSD, suicide prevention, and addiction.

"I wanted to do something for our veterans and first responders that make the ultimate sacrifice for us, so I decided to get 'Boots on The Ground' and try to save lives," Ladd said. "I call this 'Operation 22 to ZERO' based on the fact that 22 veterans a day are dying by suicide."

Ladd said her motivation is her two sons, who are veterans. She has their pictures, along with other military men and women printed on her RV.

During her stops, Ladd meets different veterans and first responders and interviews them on camera. She then posts the videos online, hoping it can help someone else. Ladd also visits organizations across the country to add them to the website for resources.

"It’s real, I don’t edit, it’s raw, we laugh, we cry," Ladd said. "Just in three weeks, I’ve had over 100 family members, widows, veterans, reaching out to me, sharing their stories."

Ladd said she has traveled more than 35,000 miles to raise awareness and will continue her travels as long as the good Lord allows her.

"We are pleased to welcome Michelle to be present at Friday’s concert," said Henry Wojtaszek, president and CEO at Batavia Downs Gaming. "As a veteran myself, I appreciate people who take the time to reach out and help those who have served our country.”

Doors for the Tanya Tucker concert are at 4:30 p.m., with live music, starting at 5.  All VIP and Premium tickets are sold out, but $10 General Admission tickets are available at BataviaConcerts.com or in person at the Lucky Treasures gift shop.

July 24, 2019 - 2:39pm
posted by Billie Owens in steve hawley, news, patriot trip, veterans.

Press release: 

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) announced today that seats are still available for his annual Patriot Trip to Washington, D.C., which will take place Sept. 19 – 22.

This will mark the 12th year Hawley has hosted the trip which allows local veterans and their family members to visit a host of famous military memorials in the Washington, D.C., area. 

The group will be staying in the newly redesigned Bethesda Marriott Hotel, located near downtown Bethesda, Md., featuring an outdoor pool, fitness center, the new M Club Lounge and multiple dining and drink options on premises. Check in will be on Sept. 19 and check out will be Sept. 22.

Anyone is now permitted to sign up, although priority will still be given to residents of the 139th Assembly District. The approximate cost of the trip is $400 per person and that includes meals, transportation and admission to the memorials.

**Those planning to visit the White House must sign up before July 30.

Attractions Hawley plans to visit this year on the trip include:

  • White House (Must sign up before July 30)
  • Gettysburg
  • Capitol
  • Air Force Memorial
  • Pentagon / 911 Memorial
  • World War II Memorial
  • Korean Memorial
  • Vietnam Memorial
  • Stephen F. Udvar Hazy Museum
  • Arlington National Cemetery
  • Wreath Laying Ceremony at Tomb of the Unknowns

If you or a veteran you know want more information about this year’s Patriot Trip XII, please call 585-589-5780 or email [email protected]. To view photos from previous years, use the following link: http://vetsdctrip2008.shutterfly.com/.

July 22, 2019 - 9:00am
Video Sponsor

Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association Chapter 19-6 held a fundraiser Saturday at VFW Veness Strollo Post 1602 in Batavia.

Subscribe to The Batavian's YouTube channel.

July 19, 2019 - 5:01pm

Submitted photo of national country music recording artist JB Aaron will perform a fundraising concert Saturday at the Batavia VFW to help reduce the suicide rate among vets and solidiers.

Information from Western New York Chapter 19-6 of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association:

Did you know that every day in the United States, on average, 22 of our nation's veterans/soldiers take their own life? That number is more than 128,000.

That means that there have been more suicides since the 9/11 attacks, than there have been combined deaths in combat from the Korean War all the way through Operation Iraqi Freedom. This trend has to stop.

To help get these suicides down to zero, "Operation 22-0" -- 0 > 22 -- of the Western New York Chapter 19-6 of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association is again hosting a memorial ride and fundraiser tomorrow (July 20) at the VFW Veness Strollo Post 1602 in Batavia.

It will assist our veterans with the help they need to try to get that number down to nothing.

Operation 22-0 is an amazing group of people help vets and their families in any way they can.

You are invited to join them for a day of motorcycling riding, good food, fun and live country music for a good cause.

The day starts out with a motorcycle run. Registration starts at 11 a.m. Kickstands up at noon; ride until 3 p.m. The ride donation is $10 per motorcycle.

Cash bar afterward, and $20 for dinner starting at 4, plus a chance to win a door prize. Food by Babz BBQ includes pulled pork, chicken and side dishes.

The post's banquet and bar area is huge and air-conditioned; a great place to cool off on what is expected to be a scorcher!

Hear live music until 8 p.m.

Rochester's own Worthy Duncan and Josh Shaff will perform, followed by national recording artist JB Aaron, who along with his band the Brethren, donates much of his free time to organizations such as this. Aaron supports and gives back every chance he can.

Please come out and join us as we help those who have helped our country for so many years. They have helped us, now its our turn.

The VFW Veness Strollo Post 1602 is located at 25 Edwards St.

To learn about the history of the motorcycle group, click here.

To visit their Facebook page, click here.

Below is a video produced by Cosmic Video of JB Aaron and the Brethren performing "Cadillac Bound" in June 2018 at the American Warrior Festival at The Ridge in Le Roy.

July 16, 2019 - 2:36pm

Press release:

Veterans can get checks to buy farm fresh produce at the Downtown Batavia Public Market this Friday, July 19.

Victor Roberts, Veterans Benefits advisor, NYS Division of Veterans' Affairs, will be at the market at Bank Street and Alva Place from 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. to distribute NYS FreshConnect Checks to local veterans.

FreshConnect Veterans Checks are a component of Governor Cuomo's "New York FreshConnect Farmers' Markets" (FreshConnect) program. The program is designed to assist New York farmers by increasing the sale of locally grown food in communities.

FreshConnect checks will be issued as a one-time annual benefit: 10 -- $2 checks ($20 total yearly benefit); one packet per household, per season.

Checks will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis to the first 80 veterans of the Armed Forces of the United States, current members of the Armed Forces, members of their immediate families, or un-remarried surviving spouses.

"Recipients will not require ID," says Roberts, "but they will need to sign a form accepting the program's rules and regulations."

"The checks can be used to purchase fresh produce from participating vendors at the Market," says Market Manager Mike Bakos. "The Market is excited to, once again, be a distribution point for FreshConnect Veterans Checks and we thank all veterans for their service."

The Downtown Batavia Public Market is held Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Fridays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. mid-June thru October.

P.O. Box 303, Gasport, NY 14067

(716) 560-0853

June 24, 2019 - 1:43pm
posted by Lauren Leone in Le Roy, news, Gary Scott Scholarship, Vietnam, veterans.

One deserving Le Roy Jr./Sr. High School senior will become the recipient of the Gary Scott Scholarship this Thursday, which will mark the 50th year of commemorating the life of this American hero.  

The namesake scholarship originated five decades ago in memory of Scott, who was a Le Roy native, distinguished ROTC graduate in Syracuse and Army lieutenant.

When Scott was presented with a choice of which branch of the Army he would join, he challenged himself to enter the infantry.

Scott felt this dangerous assignment would be worthwhile because he could prove himself to be an African American role model who created leadership opportunities for others.

Sadly, at age 22, Scott was killed in action during the Vietnam War when he sacrificed his life to save a fellow soldier.   

Scott’s Syracuse University classmates and friends established a scholarship fund at Le Roy High School to honor Scott’s memory and encourage graduates to embody Scott’s ambition, courage and dedication.

“What inspires me to keep this on and have for 50 years is that we want to give back ... to the Le Roy community that’s embraced the Scott family and to give back to the students that receive the award and inspire them,” said Jim Bruen, a founder and lead coordinator of the scholarship fund.

Previous award recipients, Scott’s high school and university classmates, friends and family members are coming from across the country to celebrate Scott’s story together. This year, $8,000 will be awarded to a new scholarship recipient.

To set the 50th year of this scholarship apart, Le Roy Jr./Sr. High School will host a dinner in Scott’s name in the school cafeteria at 5:30 p.m Thursday (June 27).

The scholarship will be presented afterward at the annual awards ceremony, which begins at 7 p.m. in the high school auditorium.

Bruen said, “Seeing the kids that come back that have received this award, it’s a very rewarding night for me and for others. It clearly encourages us to continue to do it.”

Bruen said that he and others who were close to Scott are comforted by the thought that the award recipients will achieve great things in the spirit of the local hero.

“Looking forward, I would like this scholarship to go on for another 50 years," Bruen said. "In order to do that, I would cherish and appreciate funding to the scholarship at the Le Roy High School. That way we can keep the message, the passion and the mission going.”

The scholarship founders are seeking additional support from the Le Roy community in order to fund the award in future years.

Bruen said that past award recipients and prospective donors are welcome to contact the high school for more information about the dinner, award ceremony and the Gary Scott Scholarship.

Le Roy Jr./Sr. High School is located at 9300 South Street Road, Le Roy. Phone is (585) 768-8131. Website is here.

Photos of Gary Scott provided by Rebecca LeClair.

June 18, 2019 - 5:24pm
posted by Billie Owens in David Bellavia, Medal of Honor, veterans.

A press release from Senator Rob Ortt (R,C,I,Ref-North Tonawanda):

Today, Western New York lawmakers honored the military service of Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia in the New York State Capitol. Bellavia, who will be awarded the Medal of Honor next week by President Trump, was recognized for his accomplishments while serving in the Army.

Senators Rob Ortt, Patrick Gallivan, Mike Ranzenhofer, Chris Jacobs, and Assemblyman Steve Hawley adopted a resolution that was read on the chamber floors, recognizing Batavia resident David Bellavia and his military service.

Bellavia will become the first living Iraq War veteran to receive the nation's highest military decoration.

While serving as a squad leader in Operation Phantom Fury, a 2004 American offensive on the western Iraqi City of Fallujah, Staff Sgt. Bellavia saved his entire squad when he cleared a housing block of enemy combatants who had pinned down his unit. Once Staff Sgt. Bellavia secured the safety of his squad, he re-engaged with the enemy combatants, reentered the house where enemy fire was located, proceeded to kill four enemy insurgents, and wounded a fifth.

Sen. Rob Ortt (R,C,I,Ref-North Tonawanda) said, “There’s no one more deserving of our nation’s highest military honor than David Bellavia – a true American hero. Because of the utmost bravery and heroism David displayed while leading his unit in Iraq, he saved the lives of those he was tasked with protecting. As Western New Yorkers, we couldn’t be more proud to have him as one of our own. And as Americans, we couldn’t be more grateful for his service.”

Sen. Patrick Gallivan (R,C,I-Elma) said, “Staff Sgt. Bellavia represents the very best of the brave men and women who serve and protect our country. His courageous and heroic actions in the midst of a fierce firefight not only saved the lives of his comrades but make him worthy of our nation’s highest military honor. We thank him for his service and for his steadfast commitment to our veterans and those who serve in the military today.”

Sen. Mike Ranzenhofer (R,C,I-Amherst) said, “It is truly an honor to recognize David Bellavia for receiving the nation’s highest military decoration – the Medal of Honor. David’s courage and selfless actions are an example of true heroism. We are truly grateful for his service.” 

Sen. Chris Jacobs (SD-60) said, “David Bellavia’s exploits in the streets of Fallujah are truly awe-inspiring and remind all of us why the American soldier is the strongest in military history and revered by the people he serves. He is an incredibly deserving recipient of the Medal of Honor and I share in the pride his hometown community of Western New York feels.”

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) said, “Staff Sgt. David Bellavia is a true example of the American courage, bravery and heroics that have forged our great nation and he is beyond deserving of this tremendous honor. His willingness to put the lives and protection of others above himself during the Iraq War’s most intense battle is a priceless act of selflessness to which we should all emulate and, for that, he is an American hero. I am honored to recognize Staff Sgt. Bellavia for his service to our nation and thank him for his sacrifices in protecting our country and its citizens.”

Bellavia will be awarded the Medal of Honor on June 25 at the White House.

June 18, 2019 - 2:54pm
posted by Billie Owens in tops market, Stars for Our Troops, veterans, news, batavia.

Press release:

Tops Friendly Markets Stars for Our Troops initiative is still underway until June 22.

The program welcomes the community to donate their worn and tattered American Flags at 33 select Tops Markets locations as well as their corporate office for proper retirement.

In Genesee County, the participating Tops location is the Batavia store on West Main Street.

In collaboration with partner veterans organizations, including Honor Flight and local VFWs, embroidered stars will be preserved and presented to local veterans who have defended our flag.

“The respect and gratitude we have for the people who serve and have served in the military is immeasurable, and for that we are forever grateful,” said Kathy Sautter, public and media relations manager for Tops.

"With the upcoming Fourth of July holiday, Tops wanted to offer the community this service to not only properly retire their flags, but also know they are in some small way extending their thanks and respect to a veteran through Stars for Our Troops."

June 18, 2019 - 1:34pm

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) [center] introduces several veterans of World War II on the Assembly Floor last Friday.

Submitted photo and press release:

Coinciding with the legislature’s celebration of Flag Day and the founding of the Army, Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) had the honor of introducing many veterans of World War Two on the Assembly Floor on Friday.

“World War II veterans, ‘The Greatest Generation’ are an elite and special group and it is important to frequently recognize and cherish their role in defending America’s freedom,” Hawley said. “Many of these brave young men and women volunteered, sometimes lying about their age in order to answer the call of duty.

"Their courage and bravery helped shape and preserve American exceptionalism, and it was truly an honor to introduce and meet with them in Albany.”

Hawley, a veteran of the Ohio Army National Guard and U.S. Army Reserves, is the son of a World War II veteran himself, R. Stephen Hawley, who fought in Burma as part of Merrill’s Marauders.

Hawley also hosts an annual trip to Washington, D.C., each September, the Patriot Trip, joining local veterans and their families on a tour of our nation’s military and political monuments.

June 14, 2019 - 6:33pm
posted by Billie Owens in steve hawley, news, army, veterans.

A statement from Assemblyman Steve Hawley commemorating the founding of the Army.

“For nearly two and a half centuries the U.S. Army has courageously served our country. On June 14, 1775 the Continental Congress established the United Continental Army under the command of General George Washington to serve the United Colonies for a year.

“Today, we celebrate the 244th birthday of the Army and in doing so celebrate the heroic sacrifices of all the men and women who have served in defense of our freedom and liberty. Across the nation we recognize and honor the more than 1 million active members of the unified Army and the 180,000 Army soldiers and personnel deployed overseas.

“I am proud to have served in the Ohio Army National Guard and U.S. Army Reserves, reaching the rank of First Lieutenant, while always remembering my father, a World War Two veteran who fought as a member of Merrill’s Marauders in Burma.

“Loyalty, duty and selfless-service have characterized the Army since its inception. From the beaches of Normandy to the rolling hills of Afghanistan and Iraq, we bear in mind the brave men and women who have generously sacrificed so much for our country. In the spirit of solemn thanksgiving and praise, we wish a happy birthday to the U.S. Army.”

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