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June 4, 2017 - 5:50pm

Submitted photo and press release:

A Memorial Day Parade is a proud tradition of the Botts-Fiorito American Legion Post 576 in Le Roy. Families typically gather along with other Legion families at the Post for their annual cookout. A special Brick Dedication, new to this year’s activities, also took place at the Post's Veterans Memorial after the ceremonial parade.

The Veterans Memorial Brick Program is a great way to honor a special veteran in your life by engraving a brick with their name.

This practice of pride provides a place of honor and reflection for veterans, their family and friends, and those who desire to show their respects to those service men and women who have and continue to boldly serve our county.

A 4-inch-by-8-inch engraved brick costs $50 (with wording space for 40 characters); an 8-ich-by-8-inch engraved brick costs $100 (with wording space for 60 characters).

Ladies Auxiliary Member Barb Schlonski, in photo on far left, is holding a brick in honor of her father’s Army military service, World War II TEC 4, Charles E. Birge. When returning home, the American Legion was of special significance to Charles and Helen Birge, where they enjoyed a lifetime of social and community events.

Mary Birge, second from left, also a member of the Ladies Auxiliary, is holding a brick in observance of their mother, Helen M. Birge, for her years of Auxiliary Services.

Barbara Howard, third from left, and American Legion Ladies Auxiliary Public Relations Representative Jeanice Howard, proudly share a brick in admiration of their father, Henry, who stood on “Red Alert” during the Cuban Missile Crisis. PFC Howard served in the Army from 1961 to 1963. The sisters have also dedicated a brick to deceased uncle Michael T. Howard, who courageously served in Vietnam.

Le Roy's American Legion Post has been host to numerous events through the years, such as card games, bingo, breakfasts, holiday celebrations, bowling and the site is available to the community for wedding parties and local churches in time of need.

To visit Le Roy's Post 576 online, click here:

To view a copy of the order form to buy a Veterans Memorial Brick from the Botts-Fiorito American Legion Post 576, click here.

You can print it out, fill in the blanks, then mail it with your check to the Legion in Le Roy. Checks should be made payable to American Legion Post 576. All the details, including the address, are on the form.

Pictured in uniform representing Servicemen's Club of the Botts-Fiorito American Legion Post #576 in Le Roy are, from left: Past Commander Don Schafer, Vice Commander Jerry Diskin and present Post CommanderJohn "Chip" Graney. Pictured standing below them are members of the Post's Ladies Auxiliary, from left, Barb Schlonski, Mary Birge, Barbara Howard and Jeanice Howard.

May 29, 2017 - 4:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Memorial Day, veterans, batavia, news.











To purchase prints, click here.

May 27, 2017 - 2:15pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in veterans, Memorial Day, batavia, news.


Veterans, other volunteers, and family members were in cemeteries throughout the area today to replace worn flags and place new flags on the graves of the men and women who served in the U.S. military.

It's an annual tradition locally to honor military personnel on Memorial Day Weekend.


Emilio Rosales, 8, places a flag at Elmwood Cemetary. Also placing flags was his sister, Valentina, 5.


Daniel Tomaszewski and his family, from Freedonia, made their annual trip to the St. Joe's Cemetery in Batavia to plant flowers on the grave site of his parents, who grew up and were married in Batavia before moving to Freedonia. With Daniel are wife Kristin, daughter Josephine and son Mason.


Tim Burch places a flag at a marker in Elmwood Cemetery.


Don Morris at Elmwood.

May 17, 2017 - 3:33pm
posted by Billie Owens in steve hawley, news, veterans, Announcements.

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) today announced that his 10th annual Patriot Trip to Washington, D.C,. will take place Sept. 21 – 24. More than 100 veterans and their family members participated in the 2016 trip, which included stories of valiant service members and valuable time spent together reflecting on the courage and dedication exhibited by our nation’s veterans.

Hawley is a longtime supporter of veterans and has served on the Assembly Veterans’ Affairs Committee since 2006.

Only veterans who have never been on the trip before may sign up now. After Aug. 1, veterans who have been on the trip before and those living outside of the 139th Assembly District may apply. The approximate cost of the trip is $350, which includes meals, transportation and admission to the memorials.

“I look forward to this trip each year as a way to give back to those who have served our country and remember those who have perished in combat,” Hawley said. “I came up with this idea after a similar trip I took with my father, a World War II veteran.

"Through the experiences of my father and my own service in the Ohio Army National Guard and U.S. Army Reserves, I have gained a tremendous understanding and respect for the sacrifices endured by our veterans. It is for these reasons that I continue the Patriot Trip each year and have solidified it as one of the staples of my service to our community.”

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

  • White House 
  • WWII Memorial
  • Gettysburg Memorial
  • Korean War Memorial
  • Vietnam War Memorial
  • Iwo Jima – The Marine Corps Memorial
  • American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial
  • Air Force Memorial
  • 9/11 Memorial at the Pentagon
  • Arlington National Cemetery, including the Changing of the Guard
  • Wreath Laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns – Vietnam Veterans

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

May 10, 2017 - 2:54pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, Announcements, veterans, Memorial Day.

Press release from the Genesee County Veterans Service Agency:

Below is the Memorial Day schedule of ceremonies in Genesee County for Monday, May 29. All ceremonies will include at least full military honors: wreath laying, rifle salute and taps.

7 a.m.  –  Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Genesee County Park, sponsored by the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 193. (GC Park & Forest: 11095 Bethany Center Road, East Bethany)

8 a.m.  –  Williams Park (Batavia) WWI Memorial. This memorial honors the 35 Batavians who gave their lives in the First World War. (Williams Park: 101 Pearl St., Batavia)

8:30 a.m.  --  Batavia VA Medical Center, at the main flagpole, sponsored by the VAMC. (Batavia VAMC: 222 Richmond Ave., Batavia)

8:45 a.m. (approx.)  --  NYS Veterans Home, at the main flagpole, sponsored by the NYS Veterans Home. (NYS Veterans Home: 220 Richmond Ave., Batavia)

9:30 a.m.  --  Upton Monument. This monument honors the dead of the Civil War, and all wars since. (Upton Monument: Junction of Main and Ellicott streets, Downtown Batavia)

10 a.m.  –  Veterans Plot on Harvester Avenue. This memorial honors all war dead of all wars in Elmwood and St. Joseph’s cemeteries.

10:30 a.m.  –  UMMC Jerome Center (16 Bank St., Batavia). This is the site of the Genesee County War Memorial, honoring all war dead from Genesee County. The Batavia Concert Band will perform patriotic music starting at 10 a.m., with ceremonies to follow. The names of county veterans who have died since the previous Memorial Day will be read and a flag placed to honor each of them. Memorial services will be carried out by Glenn S. Loomis American Legion Post #332; Hansen Brothers Marine Corps League Detachment #951; Veness-Strollo Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #1602; Disabled American Veterans Chapter #166; and Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter #193. (Note: There will be a new sound system in use.)

April 24, 2017 - 10:20am
posted by Howard B. Owens in VFW Post 1602, batavia, veterans, Sea Cadets, news.


A contingent of Navy Sea Cadets volunteered their time Saturday to help clean the grounds of the VFW Hall on Edwards Street, Batavia. The exterior work comes after members recently completed interior renovations.

January 28, 2017 - 10:04am
posted by Howard B. Owens in AMERICAN LEGION POST #576, Le Roy, news, Help Our Heroes, veterans.


As part of a three-day event to raise money to assist veterans, the American Legion Post #576 is hosting a four-man bowling tournament at Legion Lanes, 53 W. Main St., Le Roy.

The fundraiser began on Friday night and continues today and Sunday with squads at noon and 3 p.m. -- and will also feature a chicken BBQ this afternoon, and a chance auction and a raffle through Sunday.

Last year, the event, now in its third year, raised $1,800 for the VA and the Disabled Veterans of America. This year, said Scott O'Neill, the post hopes to raise more than $2,000.

It's not too late to enter -- openings are available -- but if you're unable to make the event, donations can be mailed to:

Help Our Heroes/Scott O'Neill
American Legion Post #576
53 W. Main St.
Le Roy, NY 14482





January 27, 2017 - 6:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia VA Center, batavia, news, veterans.


A new, $2.8 million renovation project at the VA designed to improve the conditions of long-term veteran residents of the Community Living Center, Maple Lodge, was unveiled today in a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by veterans, VA staff and dignitaries. 

Maple Lodge is a completely gutted, redesigned and renovated wing of the VA Hospital in Batavia and features 19 private rooms and one semi-private room.

There were upgrades to central heating, air conditioning, and ventilation. 

The design consists of an open kitchen, eating areas, and several living room spaces complete with a fireplace. The kitchen table always has snacks or fruit available along with coffee, tea, and the ability to make fresh-baked goods, reinforcing the home atmosphere. Lastly, all rooms now have state-of-the-art lifting equipment for a safe patient environment that concurrently lowers the risk of staff injury.

John McCune, a disabled veteran living at the lodge, spoke during the ceremony and praised the comfort of the renovations and the great care and support he gets from the staff.

"It's a thankless job they do in many instances, but for me, I try to thank them each and every day, because I do appreciate the job they do, especially for somebody like me," McCune said.

He also praised his fellow lodge residents.

"It wouldn't be a brotherhood without each individual's unique story that comes along with living here," he said. "I can't tell you truthfully and honestly from the first time coming onto the ward, it's a home."

Several speakers praised all the individuals who helped make the renovations possible, from the VA leadership to the local maintenance staff and administration staff members.

"This is truly a community living center," said Kimberly Kwietniewski, geriatric and extended care line manager. "As you know, it takes a village, and if it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to care for our wonderful heroes."


Kimberly Kwietniewski


John McCune


Richard Collins, a World War II veteran who was awarded a Purple Heart, led the Pledge of Allegiance.

January 4, 2017 - 1:09pm
posted by Billie Owens in steve hawley, agriculture, veterans.

Press release: 

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) announced today that he has been reappointed Assistant Minority Leader of the Assembly and will sit on the Agriculture, Veterans’ Affairs, Insurance, Ways and Means and Rules committees.

“After a relaxing holiday season, I am excited to get back to work on behalf of the citizens in my district and continue to make strides rebuilding our infrastructure, securing crucial education funding, protecting our vets and fighting Albany corruption,” Hawley said. “I am overjoyed to have the great opportunity to serve on such important committees in the Assembly, and look forward to offering my expertise as a small-business owner when it comes to insurance and agriculture issues.”

This is the first term that Hawley will serve on the Rules Committee, which is the final stop for many bills before they reach the floor for a vote. It is also the group that controls many important operations of the House.

“The Assembly Rules Committee is one of the most important governing bodies in Albany, and I couldn’t be more honored to serve as one of its members,” Hawley said. “This committee is usually the final stop for legislation before it either comes to the floor for a vote or dies in committee. This is an excellent opportunity to safeguard upstate against radical and misguided legislation supported by downstate special interests, and I plan to do just that.”

December 2, 2016 - 11:14am


Press release:

On Friday, Dec. 2, funeral directors Justin Calarco-Smith, Joshua Smith and Steven Johnson of the H.E. Turner & Co., Bohm-Calarco-Smith, and Burdett & Sanford Funeral Homes were honored to present a check in the amount of $1,000 to Jim Neider and Tom Cecere of the Joint Veterans Honor Guard of Genesee County. 

This donation was made in the names of the 31 area veterans who the funeral home group was privileged to arrange funeral services for in the past year. 

The Joint Veterans Honor Guard is a dedicated group of volunteers comprised of veterans from across our county. They provide funeral honors to our fallen. The honors include a color guard, the playing of TAPS, and a firing squad. This year, they have rendered honors to more than 60 fallen veterans throughout Genesee County.

One of only a handful of such organizations statewide, Genesee County is extremely fortunate to have selfless volunteers who are at the ready in a moment’s notice.  They stand, without complaint, in the heat, cold, wind, snow and rain to pay final tribute to their comrades. 

“We are humbled by the members of our community who selflessly served this great nation. Additionally, we consider it a privilege to care for our veterans and their families when called upon,” said Funeral Director Justin Calarco-Smith, who along Joshua Smith, Randy McIntire, James Smith and Steven Johnson operate H.E. Turner & Co. Funeral Homes in Batavia and Bergen, Bohm-Calarco-Smith Funeral Home in Batavia, and the Burdett & Sanford Funeral Home in Oakfield.

“This donation will allow us to continue to honor and serve Genesee County’s veterans in the manner they deserve for a long time to come,” said Jim Neider, commander of the Honor Guard.

The funeral homes plan to honor the veterans they care for annually by making similar donations to a local veterans organization each year.

Photo: Steven Johnson, Tom Cecere, Joshua Smith, Jim Neider and Justin Calarco-Smith.

November 11, 2016 - 3:28pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in veterans, Veterans Day, batavia, news.


Today, we stopped by the Batavia VA Center and the Jerome Center for Veterans Day observances.









November 11, 2016 - 7:23am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Veterans Day, veterans, news.

The men and women who served in the United States military will be honored today at several local ceremonies.

  • 9 a.m. -- Genesee County Park
  • 10 a.m. -- Batavia VA Medical Center
  • 10:30 a.m. -- NYS Veterans Home
  • 11 a.m. -- Upton Monument
  • 11:30 a.m. -- Jerome Center
  • 12:30 p.m. -- Genesee Community College

Statement from Assemblyman Steve Hawley:

On Veterans Day, Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) is urging his constituents and all New Yorkers to take some time tomorrow and thank a veteran or current service member for their dedication and sacrifice to preserving our way of life. Hawley, the son of a veteran, served seven years in the Ohio Army National Guard and Army Reserves and reached the rank of 1st Lieutenant.

“Military service runs deep in my family and Veterans Day will always hold a special place in my heart,” Hawley said. “Whether it be my annual Patriot Trip to Washington, D.C., to give back to local veterans or my efforts in Albany, I try to improve the lives of our active military and veterans consistently throughout the year.

"Our veterans display a tremendous amount of sacrifice and dedication to preserving our way of life and their actions have helped shape our country into the pinnacle of liberty and success. I encourage all my constituents and New Yorkers alike to take time tomorrow to thank a veteran for their service and pray for those who are still fighting overseas.”       

Hawley is a true champion in Albany for our current and retired military members and serves as the Ranking Republican Member of the Assembly’s Veterans’ Affairs Committee. Hawley sponsors several pieces of legislation to make the “Campaign Service Medal” more inclusive, help veterans start small businesses, and remove admission fees for veterans to state parks. Hawley also played a pivotal role in ushering in the Veterans Buy-back Bill that allows vets to purchase up to three years of military service back from the state in exchange for a credit toward their public pension.

October 26, 2016 - 4:48pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, Announcements, Stafford, LGBTQ, office for the aging, veterans.

Press release:

The Genesee County Office for the Aging is proud to partner with the Rochester Gay Alliance SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders) program to bring an event to our County!

The Traveling LGBTQ Potluck & Program will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 12, at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, located at 6188 Main Road in Stafford.

Meet! Greet! Eat!

All are welcome. Meet news friends.

Featured program is "Gay Pioneers."

Bring a dish to pass.

Also, Rochester Gay Alliance SAGE is looking to connect with LGBTQ veterans and people who served in the military regardless of discharge status.

Learn more about what SAGE Vets & ROC Vets can do for you!

Contact: [email protected]

September 29, 2016 - 5:38pm

Press release:

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced that, following his push, $36 million in federal funding for the construction phase of the newest National Veterans’ Cemetery in Western New York has been included in the final continuing resolution (CR) package.

This final appropriations bill includes the FY2017 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (MilCon-VA) Appropriations Bill and it is set to be signed into law by the president soon. The cemetery will be located on 132 acres on Indian Falls Road in Pembroke.

Schumer said the Veterans’ Cemetery in Genesee County 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 upward of 100 miles to visit their loved ones at what is now the closest vet cemetery in Bath.

The Pembroke cemetery will provide a fitting burial option to approximately 96,000 currently underserved veterans and family members living in Western New York. 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.

Additionally, with the anticipated completion of the VA’s required Environmental Review by the end of November 2016, the VA anticipates it will complete the acquisition of the two adjoining parcels, a 60-acre parcel and a 77-acre parcel, by the second quarter of FY17 (early calendar year 2017) to enlarge the area of the cemetery. Currently the VA parcel is 132 acres. The acquisitions of the two parcels would effectively double the size of the cemetery.

According to guidance provided by the VA on cemetery development timelines, it can typically take up to 24 months to complete the cemetery master planning and design process. Following the completion of that phase, the construction phase typically requires 24-30 months to compete, with early-use burial areas made available approximately 12 months after the start of construction. Now that the $36 million to fund the construction is secure, the VA anticipates it will begin solicitation of a General Contractor to award construction. Solicitation and contract award is anticipated to require approximately six months.

September 24, 2016 - 9:31am
posted by Howard B. Owens in outdoors, veterans, batavia, news, sports, hunting.


Photo and story by Alex Feig, with our news partner, WBTA.

Operation Injured Soldiers was hosting military veterans for the beginning of geese-hunting season at the Wounded Warrior House in Orleans County from Wednesday through Sunday this week.

OIS as it’s called by volunteers, began its presence in the Batavia area around six years ago when veteran Edward Spence got together with several other vets in the area, one of which was Floyd “Skip” Hulburt.

“Ed Spence and I and a fellow veteran, we had talked about establishing OIS in New York, and once it was established Ed Spence just took off with it.”

Skip had just gotten back from another successful hunt but his focus was on a fellow soldier, “My main focus was Jack who is a Vietnam veteran. This is his first time waterfowl hunting so I wanted to get him into it and see how he likes it, and that's a lot of why I do this. I'm not as bad (off) as some of these guys. I'm pretty mobile still.”

Jack Olson, a Vietnam vet, lives just down the road from the Warrior House and was very grateful for the opportunity.

Olson said “I had a good time, I enjoyed it.  Great people, great guides, great veterans I was with.  All good, all good, nothing bad I can say.”

Olson. like many veterans. is not just receiving help but is providing for others like himself.

“I think more people should get involved in veterans organizations and volunteering at the Batavia VA," Olson said. "I am myself a volunteer at the VA and it's a very rewarding experience and there's always stuff to do. Somebody will find something for you to do at the VA.”

For more information on Operation Injured Soldiers, you can visit www.injuredsoldiers.org or message Edward Spence on Facebook.

August 31, 2016 - 1:56pm


Willis Middleton moves into a new apartment in Batavia tomorrow, and the day before yesterday, he signed his lease and picked up his keys.

At first, he didn't think much of it. He went back to his room at the VA Center, in the Cazenovia Recovery Program, and sat down on his bed and started looking for a keychain.

"After I put all the keys on the chain, I just stared at it and I was like, dang these are my keys," Middleton said. "I mean, I’ve had that before, but it just means a whole lot more. I was just staring at those keys and I was like, ‘wow.’ It’s been a long road and I’m very appreciative of the people who helped me. It’s just a great feeling, it really is."

The ladies of the VFW Auxiliary Veness Strollo Post #1602 in Batavia were among those who helped Middleton get to this point, which comes after years of struggling with addiction, in and out of rehab programs, until he was finally brought to one that is making a difference.

One of the key benefits of the program, Middleton said that at the end of it, counselors make sure patients don't go back to the same community and the same life and same associates they were mired in before.

"Let’s be honest, we all do rehab really well," Middleton said. "We all go in and make these promises we’re going to do better, we’re going to do this and we’re going to do that, but then when it’s time to leave, we really didn’t have the resources, so basically we got threw back into that environment that we came from. Excuse my French, but snowballs stand a better chance in hell with that situation. But here, it gives you an opportunity to change everything, even your environment. I think that’s more important than anything, those resources and employment are more important than anything."

Middleton, originally from Cross, S.C., and most recently a resident of Durham, N.C., is getting a fresh start in Batavia.

He thinks that's wonderful.

"By the time this program came, it saved my life," Middleton said. "That’s really all I can say. It saved my life because I was thinking crazy, I was doing irrational things and, well, I ended up in the psych ward at the Durham VA. That was the beginning that put me on this road right here and I’ve been blessed to be on this road for so long, Thank God. I’ve been seeing all of these wonderful things that are happening to me now."

The VFW Auxillary is providing many of the necessities Middleton will need to get a good start in his new apartment. They've purchased for him, as they do many other veterans who have been through Cazenovia, a coffee pot, pots, pans, dishes, silverware, dishpans, a strainer, utensils, kitchen trash can, cleaning products, dish towels, oven mitts and potholders, sheets, blankets, a shower curtain, curtain rings, a wastebasket, toilet brush, plunger, towels, toothpaste, toothbrush, floss, shaving products, alcohol-free mouthwash, curtains and furniture.

They ladies buy all that for multiple veterans with funds raised from Buddy Poppy sales, social events and raffles.

Middleton joined the Army when he was 17 and served four years. His problems, he said, started when he got out. He struggled with drugs and homelessness off and on, though he also had times of stability, but hit rock bottom in Durham.

"When I got here at first started learning about myself, it wasn’t a pretty picture at all," Middleton said. "It was kind of ugly, to be honest, but the more I stayed the course, the more it just was so obvious that if I didn’t want to die in my addiction, I knew that I had to change. I just had to get down and dirty and do it.

"This program has meant a lot to me," he added.

Photo: Pictured with Middleton are Jean Dolph, Daphne Cross and Judy Cooper, of the VFW Auxiliary Veness Strollo Post #1602.

August 5, 2016 - 5:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in steve hawley, veterans.


Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) today announced that about 30 seats are still available for his Ninth Annual Patriot Trip to Washington D.C. The trip is open to local veterans and their family members with priority going to first time attendees. The trip will take place September 15-18 and will include a multitude of memorials and historic sites honoring veterans in the D.C. area.

“This is one of my favorite events of the entire year and I am honored to give back to the brave men and women and their families who have fought for our country’s freedom,” Hawley said. “This is an amazing opportunity for an affordable price and I encourage local veterans and their loved ones to join us on this amazing journey.”

Attractions Hawley plans to visit this year include:

  • WWII Memorial
  • Korean War Memorial
  • Vietnam War Memorial
  • Iwo Jima – The Marine Corps Memorial
  • American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial
  • Air Force Memorial
  • 911 Memorial at the Pentagon
  • Arlington National Cemetery, including the Changing of the Guard
  • Wreath Laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns – Vietnam Veterans

Only about 30 seats remain and are available on a first come, first served basis. If you or a veteran you know want more information about this year’s Patriot Trip IX, please call 585-589-5780 or email [email protected].

July 15, 2016 - 12:47pm
posted by Zachary Lee in Taste of Stafford, veterans, news, Stafford.

(Photos by Zach Lee.) (American Legion Honor Guard leaving Stafford Fire Hall.)

Thursday evening was the 12th Annual Taste of Stafford. It brought out members of the community for a good time, and they got to enjoy some of Stafford's tastiest food in honor of local veterans.

The Stafford Historical Society, which hosts the fund-raising event, opted to move it from Ilette park to Stafford Fire Hall because of the heat.

"The committee felt that due to the anticipated high temperatures, it was best to move to our rain location which has air conditioning," organizers said in a statement.

"I think it's very important to get the community out here and to meet each other," said Jon Dayton, master of ceremonies.

This is Dayton's first year being in charge of ceremonies; previously, he was "the sound guy" for many years.

"This is a great community event, even though we're inside on a day like today, everyones' spirits are high," said Stafford Historical Society Member Jim Owen.

(American Legion Honor Guard member and Le Roy Boy Scout from Troop 23 showing respect during the National Anthem.)

(Jon Dayton presenting the daily agenda.)

(From left: Peter Celentano, Amy Celentano and Diane Hawn singing the National Anthem.)

June 14, 2016 - 2:33pm
posted by Billie Owens in kirsten gillibrand, veterans, military families.

Press release:

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand issued the following statement today following the Senate’s failure to vote on the bipartisan Military Justice Improvement Act:

“I am deeply upset that the Senate closed the National Defense Authorization Act without even debating military sexual assault and the Military Justice Improvement Act specifically. The bipartisan amendment has previously earned the support of a majority of senators twice before and is widely supported by Veterans Service Organizationsretired military memberssexual violence NGOsmilitary law experts and most importantly military sexual assault survivors.

“When the Department of Defense tells us they estimate there are over 20,000 sexual assaults on service members each year, that nearly eight out of 10 of those attacked do not report the incident and that 62 percent of those brave souls who do report then face retaliation – often from someone in their chain of command who is supposed to protect them – how can it be possible that the Senate refuses to even debate reforming this system?

"The Department of Defense has buried its head in the sand on sexual assault for over 25 years and today the U.S. Senate joined them. Despite evidence uncovered by the Associated Press that the DoD misled members of the Senate on sexual assault cases, this simple reform was blocked from even being considered by this Senate. They used to just filibuster the bill, but now they won’t even debate it – pushing this national scandal to the shadows. I think that sends a shameful message to military sexual assault survivors.

“We know today that the men and women in the military who are sexually assaulted do not get a fair chance to get justice in the current system. Today, I am saddened to say the same appears to be true from the U.S. Senate. Given this abject failure on behalf of Congress, I will again call on President Obama, the Commander of Chief, to fulfill his responsibility to service members and take action to give them a system of justice worthy of their sacrifice.

"In December of 2013 President Obama put the Department of Defense on notice that they had one year to show ‘the kind of progress I expect’ before considering additional reforms. The data does not lie – significant progress has not been made, retaliation remains exactly where it was then and in the case of unrestricted reporting we have actually gone backwards from last year.

“The question for the Senate and the President shouldn’t be, ‘have we done enough to combat military sexual assault?’, but rather, ‘have we done everything we can to fight this epidemic?’ The answer to that question is a resounding 'no', and brave service members pay the price every day for our inaction. In recent surveys and in their countless stories, survivors tell us they lack faith in the command-controlled system. They simply fear that nothing will be done or they will be retaliated against for reporting. I don’t know why the President and members of the Senate refuse to believe them.

“Today is a setback in our fight on survivors’ behalf, but it is no more than that. I will continue to advocate for reform, and I refuse to back down or go away from fighting for survivors on this issue. Whether it is this President and Congress or the next, we will not give up until we can provide service members with a system of justice that is fair.”

June 11, 2016 - 11:38am
posted by Billie Owens in Flag Day, Batavia VA, news, veterans.

Although Flag Day is actually Tuesday, June 14, there will be a Flag Day Ceremony on Sunday, June 12, at the VA WNY Healthcare System, Batavia.

It starts at 1 p.m. with a prelude comprised of a motorcycle procession.

This will be followed by the Presentation of Colors by the Genesee County Joint Veterans Color Guard, and then the Invocation will be given by Chaplain Robert Chambers of the VA Chaplain Service.

Next, those assembled will say the Pledge of Allegiance.

Mark J. Francis, volunteer program manager, will welcome participants and then Michael Mazutto will speak. Mazutto is a veteran of Afghanistan/Iraq and a recipient of the Purple Heart.

James Neider will speak on the Flag Day tradition. He is with the American Legion Genesee Veterans Club.

A Tribute to Veterans follows, provided by Batavia Middle School students and Assistant Principal Maureen Notoro.

St. Joe's Brass Ensemble will perform a musical salute and concert.

The ceremony ends with Chaplain Robert's benediction and the Retirement of Colors.

The public is welcome to attend. The VA medical center is located at 222 Richmond Ave. in the City of Batavia.


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