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December 23, 2008 - 11:56am
posted by Philip Anselmo in Announcements, veterans, VA Medical Center, military.

From the VA Medical Center:

In the giving spirit of the holidays, members of the 82nd Airborne Niagara Frontier Chapter will be distributing gifts to patient units at the Buffalo VA, 3495 Bailey Avenue.  The gift distribution will take place on Christmas Day, Tuesday, December 25 at 1:30 pm.  The group will sing carols along with accordionist as they visit patient units.

December 16, 2008 - 8:09am
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, Announcements, veterans, Buffalo, VA Medical Center.

From the VA Medical Center:

Dr. Miguel Rainstein was appointed Chief of Staff, VA Western New York Healthcare System, Buffalo, NY effective December 7, 2008.  In April 2008, Dr. Rainstein began serving as Acting Chief of Staff.  He came to VA WNY Healthcare System as Chief of Surgery in July 2005. Prior to coming to VA WNY Healthcare System, he was the Chief of Surgery at Kenmore Mercy Hospital for 14 years.

As Chief of Staff, Dr. Rainstein has the responsibility of providing quality patient care and coordinating all professional activities to fulfill that mission. He supervises the operation of both the Buffalo and Batavia sites, as well as community based outpatient clinics in Jamestown, Dunkirk, Niagara Falls, Lockport, Lackawanna, Olean and Warsaw.

Dr. Rainstein received his undergraduate degree and his medical degree from the University of Buenos Aires.  He completed his surgical residency at Millard Fillmore Hospital in 1979. He is currently Clinical Assistant Professor of Surgery at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

He is a Diplomat of the American Board of Surgery, a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and also holds membership in the Buffalo Surgical Society.  “We are fortunate to have Dr. Rainstein within VA WNY Healthcare System with his years of expertise in the community and VA,” said David J. West, Interim Medical Center Director.
Dr. Rainstein lives in Williamsville with his wife.

December 9, 2008 - 12:56pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, Announcements, veterans, VA Medical Center.

From the VA Western New York:

David J. West, FACHE has been named Interim Medical Center Director at VA Western New York Healthcare System effective December 7.  VA Western New York Healthcare System includes medical centers in Buffalo, Batavia and seven community based out patient clinics located in Niagara Falls, Lockport, Dunkirk, Jamestown, Lackawanna, Olean, and Warsaw.  Mr. West has been the Medical Center Director at the Bath VA Medical Center since April 29, 2007.

Prior to being appointed Director for the Bath VA, Mr. West served as Associate Director at the Washington, DC VA Medical Center, and began his career with VA in1987 at the Washington DC VA Medical Center.

At VA WNYHS, he will oversee over 1,690 employees serving over 40,000 veterans during the period until a new director is appointed.  He succeeds James P. Cody who has served as interim director since August and Michael S. Finegan who recently was promoted to network director, in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  “It’s an opportunity for me to work with a dedicated staff in Western NY serving our nation’s heroes,” West said.

Mr. West served in the U.S. Army from 1973 to 1978. He holds a Master of Science degree in Health Services Administration from the College of St. Frances in Joliet, Illinois and is a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives.

November 17, 2008 - 10:57am
posted by Philip Anselmo in Announcements, veterans, VA Medical Center, Holidays, thanksgiving.

From the VA Medical Center:

Thanksgiving dinner will be served to homeless and other needy veterans and their families, Sunday, November 23, 2008 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Buffalo VA, 3495 Bailey Avenue. Judi Kaczmarek, Human Resources Specialist has organized the event for the last eight years. 

She has been gratified with the response received by both the staff and the veterans served from previous years.  The event occurs the Sunday before Thanksgiving Day in order to provide a hot meal to those in need.   Admission is by ticket only.  Homeless veterans and veterans in need can call 881-5855 to obtain a ticket and learn more about transportation.

About 150 veterans and their families will be treated to a turkey and ham dinner with all the trimmings that will be served by staff in the VA Food Court located in the hospital's lower level. Veteran Service Organizations and other community groups have made donations for the event.

Entertainment by children of staff and a magic show will highlight the festivities this year. VA health care and other veterans’ benefits information will be provided to veterans with the opportunity to enroll in VA health care at the event.

November 11, 2008 - 9:14am
posted by Tammy Way in veterans.


November 6, 2008 - 11:01am
posted by Philip Anselmo in veterans, VA Medical Center.

From the VA Medical Center:

VA Western New York Healthcare System is celebrating National Veterans Awareness Week at the Batavia and Buffalo sites.  All veterans are encouraged to wear their medals as America recognizes veterans on Veterans Day, Tuesday, November 11, 2008.

Monday, November 10, 10:00 a.m. – Buffalo, 1:00 p.m. – Batavia

Professional Umpire, Mr. Jerry Lane visits veterans. 

Tuesday, November 11, 10:00 a.m. - Batavia site

Veterans Day Ceremony is held by the Flag Pole at Building 3 on the grounds of the Batavia site, VA Western New York Healthcare System, 222 Richmond Avenue.  Genesee County veterans groups coordinate the event followed by a coffee social in Building 4 Recreation Hall.

Tuesday, November 11, 2:00 p.m. – Buffalo site

Traditional Veterans Day program is open to all in Freedom Hall, room 301 at the Buffalo site, VA Western New York Healthcare System, 3495 Bailey Avenue. Steven M. Larwood, Command Chief Master Sergeant, US Air Force Reserve 914th Airlift Wing will deliver the keynote address. Events are open to the public.

November 3, 2008 - 10:49am
posted by Philip Anselmo in Announcements, veterans, VA Medical Center.

From the VA Western New York:

VA Western New York Healthcare System is holding an open house for the newly renovated cardio-pulmonary rehabilitation and fitness center, Friday, November 7, 2008 from 1:30- 3:30pm.

The $1.2 million project included the renovation and increased space for cardiac rehabilitation and patient therapy on 4B. Veterans who have had open heart surgery, myocardial infarction (heart attack), angioplasty, congestive heart failure, and those who are medical management history of heart and lung diseases utilize the facilities.  The fitness center is also available to all veterans at no cost who are referred by their provider. “We expect that this modern area with state of the art equipment will enhance the participation in our cardiac and pulmonary rehab programs as well as improve our veteran and employee satisfaction,” states Dr. Miguel Rainstein, acting Chief of Staff.

VA WNY Healthcare System provides care to over 40,000 veterans in Buffalo, Batavia, and seven community based clinics located in Lackawanna, Niagara Falls, Lockport, Olean, Dunkirk, Jamestown and Warsaw.

October 31, 2008 - 12:11pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in Announcements, veterans, health, VA Medical Center.

From the VA Medical Center:

Additional walk-in clinics have been scheduled for veterans enrolled in VA health care at VA WNY Healthcare System, 3495 Bailey Avenue in Buffalo.  The vaccines will be available at Desk 4 located on the first floor Saturday, November 8 from 8am -1pm, Tuesday, November 11 (Veterans Day) noon – 3:30pm, Saturday, November 15, 8am – 1pm, and Sunday, November 23, 9:00am – 2pm. Enrolled veterans may also contact their primary care provider to obtain the vaccine.

There is no charge for the flu vaccine for veterans enrolled in VA health care.  Eligibility will be verified prior to administration of the vaccine.  For information regarding VA Healthcare eligibility call 1-888-823-9656.

October 28, 2008 - 9:25am
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, Announcements, veterans, VA Medical Center, medicine.

From the VA Medical Center:

Veterans enrolled in VA health care may obtain flu vaccines at walk-in clinics at VA Western New York Healthcare System in Batavia, 222 Richmond Avenue. The vaccines will be available Monday through Friday, between 8:30 and 11:30 a.m. and 1:00 and 3:00 p.m. at the outpatient clinic. Enrolled veterans may also contact their primary care provider to obtain the vaccine. There is no charge for the flu vaccine for veterans enrolled in VA Healthcare. Walk-in clinics will be held through December 31.

Eligibility will be verified prior to administration of the vaccine. For information regarding VA Healthcare eligibility call 1-888-823-9656.

September 29, 2008 - 11:16am
posted by Philip Anselmo in VA, veterans, economics.

We received this press release from the VA Medical Center:

Veterans will have the opportunity to receive assistance filing a claim for the economic stimulus payment at VA Western New York Healthcare System, 3495 Bailey Avenue, Tuesday, September 30 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and Wednesday, October 8 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the skills center, room 309A. Veterans who last year received disability compensation, pensions or survivor’s benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) may be entitled to an economic stimulus payment of at least $300. To qualify, veterans must file a tax return for 2007, even if they aren’t normally required to file. Bring photo identification and pension, social security and/or service connected disability information.

For eligible veterans who do not normally file a tax return, information about claiming the economic stimulus payment is available in “Package 1040A-3,” available from IRS offices or on the Internet.

September 9, 2008 - 12:49pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in crime, Daily News, veterans, city council, GCC.

Today's Daily News features two more reports from Matt Surtel who is on a trip to Washington D.C. with a group of area veterans led by Assemblyman Steve Hawley. Surtel steps out of the spotlight for the front page piece which includes reflections of some of the vets as they observe the National World War II Memorial. A fantastic article, worth reading in full. In another article inside the paper, Surtel thrusts himself back into the fore in a quirky tale about his first-ever trip to the mess hall. My only critique of this short and punchy piece is that we only know that Surtel is in a cafeteria, but we don't know where. Where are you, Matt?

Joanne Beck must have been a busy writer yesterday. She has three pieces featured on the front page. One is about the City Council—Council President Charlie Mallow says they are "moving forward very, very quickly." Another is about Mallow stepping down as chair of the county Democratic party, news that was featured on WBTA and The Batavian this morning. The third article by Beck—which does not feature Charlie Mallow in a prominent role—is about the quartet of Chinese students who have settled at the campus of Genesee Community College for the year. It's a fun article.

Cregg Paul, co-owner of Center Street Smokehouse, was convicted of repeated failure to file corporate tax returns for his company, Employee Leasing Network, in county court Monday. He was acquitted of four other felony charges and four misdemeanors related to the returns. Paul could face up to four years in prison or "a lesser term in local jail or probation." He will be sentenced on December 10.

We encourage you to pick up a copy of the Daily News at your nearest local newsstand. Or, better yet, subscribe at BataviaNews.com.

September 5, 2008 - 12:39pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in Daily News, veterans.

A crew of other area veterans led by Assemblyman Stephen Hawley take off today on a four-day bus trip down to Washington D.C. to visit solider memorials and Arlington National Cemetary, according to the Daily News. What's more, the paper sent Matt Surtel on the trip with them. Surtel "will be writing stories on the experience for the newspaper."

This would be a perfect oportunity for Surtel to log onto The Batavian and do some live blogging of the trip, even let some of the veterans get on the computer and talk about their time at Arlington, on the road and in the capitol. What would it take to persuade Surtel to post his travelogues on The Batavian? If he can't do that, does he at least have a private blog of his own that we can link to? Batavia would really love that.

Batavia's new fire chief, Thomas Dillon told reporter Joanne Beck that he intends "to include all the members of the department and include them in the day-to-day decisions ... I know I will depend on them tremendously, and I will include them in my decision-making as much as I can." Dillon starts September 17.

John Lincoln will retire as state Farm Bureau president after 14 years in that position. The Bloomfield dairy farmer "was a strong advocate for getting the new federal Farm Bill to finally include aid for specialty crops, the many fruits and vegetables that are grown locally." Tom Rivers put together a detailed piece on this, for those interested.

Genesee County GOP Chairman Richard Siebert told Tom Rivers this morning that he has already "fielded a dozen calls from people looking for signs touting the John McCain and Sarah Palin ticket." Judging from the response we got from a post about Palin we put up following her speech earlier this week, we can see that folks in Genesee County on both sides of the party aisle are fired-up about this election and this veep choice especially.

As always, we encourage you to pick up a copy of the Daily News at your local newsstand. Or, better yet, subscribe at BataviaNews.com.

September 4, 2008 - 1:13pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in budget, veterans, Elections, finance, town justice.

Republicans in the town of Batavia will head to the polls Tuesday to choose their pick for town justice, according to the Daily News. Roger Muehlig put together a solid, straight-to-the-facts piece on the contenders: Thomas Williams and Dennis Rider.

Williams, 48, is a Batavia native who has a bachelor's degree from Hamilton College and a law degree from Columbia Law School. He is married and works in a law practice with his father in the city.

Rider, 55, is a Genesee Community College graduate who worked in security at GCC, then spent 10 1/2 years as a Genesee County sheriff's deputy before becoming a city police officer in 1987.

Williams already occupies the justice position. He was appointed in March when Joseph Filio retired. Rider is still a police officer but plans to retire whether or not he wins the primary. Williams is also listed on the Conservative line, so he will be an option in the general election regardless of the outcome of the primary.

Genesee County's proposed 2009 budget "for the county's self-insured workers compensation program" could go up 8 percent to $1.8 million. That an increase would mean about $60,000 more coming from "participating governments and school districts." I would suggest checking out the article by Paul Mrozek for the details on this. It's a complex topic—for me, at least. That increase in contributed funds does not necessarily mean an increase from all contributing parties. Batavia City Schools, for example, will contribute $750 less, while Pembroke will contribute $13,000 more.

All of the school districts and municipalities in the county are members of the plan, with the exception of the city of Batavia. The city withdrew from the program several years ago.

Each government and school district is assigned an "assessment," which is the amount of money it contributes toward the compensation fund.

A local veterans group is looking for ways to better assist veterans returning from the war in Iraq who may "run afoul of the law." Hal Kreter, director of the Genesee County Veterans Service, wants to look at setting up a "veterans diversion initiative" that would work much the same way as a drug court. Mrozek writes:

The goal of drug court ... is to provide a criminal defendant the opportunity to resolve a case by getting treatment for substance abuse. If the defendant is successful in rehabilitation, the judge has the option of reducing the underlying criminal chrages.

Kreter said the veterans returning from active service "are overmedicating themselves with alcohol and drugs" and often end up doing "something stupid." Many of them may suffer from undiagnosed post traumatic stress disorder.

One of the key components of Kreter's proposal is to provide the defendants with a mentor who also has seen active duty. Most combat veterans will only trust other combat veterans.

Hopefully we will see more information about this in coming months and maybe even see if some progress is made.

Another neighborhood clean-up has been scheduled for Saturday, September 13, from 10:00am to 1:00pm at the property of an elderly woman at 14 Warren St. Volunteers from God's Helping Hands/Project Hope will be on hand to remove debris from the yard. Anyone can join. Pauly's Pizza will provide refreshments for all the workers.

As always, we encourage you to get out and pick up a copy of the Daily News wherever they are sold. Or, better yet, subscribe at BataviaNews.com.

July 21, 2008 - 10:42am
posted by Philip Anselmo in veterans, GCC, Iraw War.

Rochester-based Veterans Outreach Center will be hosting three summits "for improving out veterans' reintegration system" on September 19, 20 and 26 in Rochester, Canandaigua and Batavia (see below for details). From the release:

This is a first-of-its-kind summit that will bring veterans, family members of veterans, and service providers together. The mission: improve upon the health and quality of life for service-members and their families post-Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and/or Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). To accomplish this, we will explore what it is we need, in terms of services and resources, to create a better system of reintegration for all.

Service members and their families are invited to attend, along with providers such as social workers, Veterans Affairs nurses and doctors and clinicians. There does not seem to be any cost to attend, but the center urges folks to register early as space is limited.

For more information, contact Jocene Preston, Director of the center's Operation Welcome Home & Recovery. She can be reached at (585) 295-7854 or (866) 906-8387, or by e-mail at jocene (dot) preston (at) veteransoutreachcenter (dot) org.

Each session will run from 10:00am to 4:00pm at the following locations:

  • Crosswinds Wesleyan Church, Canandaigua, September 19.
  • Nazareth College, Rochester, September 20.
  • Genesee Community College, Batavia, September 26.

You can download the registration and information form: here.

July 16, 2008 - 3:03pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in veterans, Veterans Services Agency.

Area veterans looking for some time away in the great outdoors need look no further than Outward Bound, a non-profit outdoor education group that takes veterans on backpacking excursions in far away places.

It doesn’t matter what your current military status is (active, inactive, discharged, retired) — you’re eligible to attend as long as you deployed in support of OEF/OIF combat operations while in the military.  These five-day excursions offer adventure activities such as backpacking, rock climbing, canyoneering, canoeing, and dog sledding in wilderness areas in Maine, Texas, Colorado, California, and Minnesota.

Now for the good news: All trip costs, including transportation to and from the excursion site, are covered by a Sierra Club grant. Yes, that means it's free.

Call Doug Hayward at 1-866-669-2362 ext. 8387 for more information or to sign up. You can also e-mail Doug at obvets (at) outwardbound (dot) org. Visit the Outward Bound Web site to find out more about the programs.

July 11, 2008 - 3:18pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in veterans, video, world war two.

Today we premiere the first episode in a series that I would hope continues indefinitely. Without much deliberation, we chose Veteran's Corner as the official title — but if anyone thinks this isn't apt or not apt enough or has other ideas, please submit them before we get too far along in the series, and we'll consider renaming.

Every few weeks we hope to sit down with another veteran and just talk. There are no set topics of conversation. I don't have a list of questions. We want only for the veteran to talk about whatever is on his mind. He can talk about his time in the war. She can talk about what life was like when she got back from the war. He can talk about bagging groceries before he ever even got drafted. Whatever.

That's it.

For our first episode, we sat down with Don Nagle, a veteran of the U.S. Navy during World War II. Don told us a little about his time with the American Legion — he's the historian for the Bergen post. He also spoke a little bit about his training as a radioman for a division of the Navy's air crew, about flying over the Bermuda Triangle and about almost getting shipped to Japan for an airstrike in what may have very well been a suicide mission.

June 24, 2008 - 4:56pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in veterans, video, world war two.

Eighty-six-year-old Louis O'Geen tells me that the "guy upstairs" took all of his friends from him, all his hunting and fishing buddies, and he's the only one left. He seems resigned to the fact, though slightly bemused by his own good fortune, if he would ever call it that. Probably not. But he isn't above getting a laugh out of it.

Louis fought in World War II. He saw the gore, the portent, the indecipherable anomaly of war up close, nose to nose with bodies chewed to the marrow and eyes sick with the madness of submerged warfare. Louis was a seaman. He joined with the Navy shortly after Pearl Harbor, left his native LeRoy and was dispatched with little haste to some of the most hairy battle theaters in the Pacific and elsewhere.

When the German U-Boats were wreaking havoc not far from Casablanca, he was there. He saw bulkheads torn to shreds. He saw the deck of his destroyer, its hawsers and rails coated two inches thick with ice. He saw the fizzle and flotsam of ships sunk like tinker toy bath boats poked underwater by the vengeful finger of a child.

"I had many close shaves," he says.

Louis almost joined up as a submariner. Almost. Until he saw the subs come up to dock, beaten and barely afloat, ambulances parked on the shore, waiting for the wounded and cracked as they were taken back from the sea that had swallowed their minds whole, often along with some of their limbs.

Ironically, though, the one episode of the war that nearly knocked out Louis O'Geen for good came after the war was already over, in the waters just off the shore of Okinawa when a typhoon tore through the Pacific in early October, 1945. (I think that typhoon was named Louise, and isn't that apt.)

Louis told me that he thought World War II would be the last war. He couldn't imagine how we could do it all over again. Then came Vietnam. Then came Iraq. He's quite fierce in his opposition to the war in Iraq. When I paid Louis a visit Monday, he showed me a drawing he made not long after he got out of the service. The drawing summed up his then and future feelings about war, feelings one can only understand when listening to Louis tell his stories. So let's do that:

June 18, 2008 - 2:57pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in crime, Daily News, veterans, police, court, VA Medical Center.

From the Daily News (Wednesday):

  • Thomas A. Aquino, the Rochester man who recently admitted that he was the notorious Pillowcase Burglar of the 1980s, received the 15-year maximum sentence for one count of second-degree burglary. Judge Robert C. Noonan told Aquino in court that it would be "a dereliction of my duty to impose anything less than the maximum sentence." Reporter Scott DeSmit put together a great article on the sentencing.
  • Really, a fantastic front page put together by the Daily News today. In addition to DeSmit's article about the Pillowcase Burglar, you can find a photograph by Mark Gutman in which a pair of cyclists wait at the corner of Main and Oak streets in the midst of last night's power outage. One of them exhales a cloud of cigarette smoke, illuminated by a pair of headlights that glow intense yet puny in the pitch black night. There's also an article about the City Council's review of City Manager Jason Molino that appeared on The Batavian yesterday, and an on-the-ball article by Tom Rivers who was out assessing the damage done to local crops as a result of Monday's hail storms.
  • Democratic Congressional candidate Jack Davis stopped at the VA Medical Center in Batavia Tuesday vowing that he would support a bill in Washington that would "expand and improve health care services for female veterans." Check out the article by reporter Roger Muehlig for more about Davis's visit and female veterans. It's well done.
  • Eighteen-year-old Batavian, Richard J. Peters II, could face up to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to raping a 4-year-old Wyoming girl. Peters will be sentenced at Wyoming County Court on September 11.

For the complete stories, the Daily News is available on local newsstands, or you can subscribe on BataviaNews.com.

June 12, 2008 - 7:51am
posted by Philip Anselmo in wbta, veterans, genesee county legislature.

Check out WBTA for these and other stories:

  • Genesee County legislators approved tax exemption for Cold War veterans at the meeting last night. Exemptions were previously only granted for combat veterans.
  • Those same legislators clashed over how to handle the extended absence of a clerk from the treasurer's office who is out on medical leave. The treasurer's office wants a full-time replacement. Some on the Legislature suggested a temporary part-time position be created. Dan Fischer writes that "the amendment" was later "approved by a vote of 6-3," though it is not quite clear what the amendment signified. I assume it altered the request for a full-time staffer to part-time, but the language is a little unclear. Either way, it's a tricky situation, and I could understand the differing of opinions. Do you pay two people for the same job when one of those is unable to perform it? But at the same time, how can you not hire someone to do the work that is not being done?
May 28, 2008 - 3:28pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in legislature, veterans, Memorial Day, steve hawley.

From reader Georgia Voss:

My husband and I were honored to have a visit Sunday with a Korean Veteran who was to be honored with 6 others on Memorial Day by Steve Hawley.  I saw no mention of this in the Daily News and am curious if you folks have knowledge of the event and other participants.

So we contacted Assemblyman Hawley's office, which provided the following information on honors handed out Monday:

  • Thomas E. Hayes Specialist Four, AUS, of the US Army, received the New York Medal of Merit. Hayes served in Vietnam and his military service covered 1969 to 1971.  He is a Silver Star winner.
  • John E. Corrado was awarded a Conspicuous Service Cross.  Corrado served in Vietnam and was in the Army from 1968 to 1970.
  • Ettore Ianni also received the Conspicuous Service Cross. Ianni served in Korea and was in the Army from 1951 to 1970.
  • Keith A. Weinert also received the Conspicuous Service Cross.  Weinert is a Vietnam veteran and served in the Army from 1967 to 1970.

The Conspicuous Service Cross was created by the New York Legislature in the 1920s. It is the highest award New York can bestow in its veterans. Recipients must have distinguished themselves by performing particularly brave and heroic acts which earned them individual citations while serving in the armed forces.

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