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June 9, 2016 - 1:38pm
posted by Billie Owens in steve hawley, veterans, news.

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Submitted photo: Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia)  greets a veteran in the Assembly Chamber Wednesday.

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) on Wednesday met with service women and female veterans in Albany for the Assembly’s annual Women Veterans’ Recognition Day. Hawley is Ranking Member of the Assembly’s Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and served in the Ohio Army National Guard and U.S. Army Reserves.

“I was honored to meet and congratulate these female veterans today in Albany,” Hawley said. “Dating back to the Revolutionary War, women have played a pivotal role in our nation’s military, often serving in combat situations and putting themselves in harm’s way to help us achieve victory.

"Even on the home front, as in World War II, women were paramount in bolstering the workforce and filling positions left by men who were serving in the military abroad. The role of women in our nation’s military is worthy of many accolades and their service will never be forgotten.”

June 2, 2016 - 1:44pm
posted by Billie Owens in steve hawley, veterans, news.

Press release June 1 from Assemblyman Steve Hawley:

“I would like to thank Gov. Cuomo and my fellow legislators for finally stepping up and making the veteran buy-back credit a reality. This is a great example of bipartisanship. Our vets have waited far too long to receive the recognition they deserve, and the opportunity to purchase back their service time from the state is a small show of gratitude for those who have sacrificed more than we can imagine.

"As a veteran, son of a veteran and Ranking Member on the Assembly’s Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I can attest to the hardships and commitment of our servicemen and women and will continue to fight for more programs and services to help those who have fought for our liberty and freedom.”

May 30, 2016 - 4:22pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Memorial Day, veterans, batavia, news.

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Photos from Memorial Day observances at Williams Park, the VA Center, Upton Monument, Elmwood Cemetery, the Batavia Memorial Day Parade, and the service at the War Memorial at St. Jerome's.

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To purchase prints, click here.

May 28, 2016 - 4:13pm

David Zuppelli, of Batavia, submitted this photo of his father, Chester Zuppelli, playing Taps on Memorial Day 1944 in New Caledonia, South Pacific.

Here's a schedule for Memorial Day Ceremonies and the Batavia parade:

7 a.m. -- Genesee County Park (11095 Bethany Center Road, East Bethany) -- Vietnam Veterans Memorial (VVA #193)

8 a.m. -- Williams Park, City of Batavia-- WW I Memorial (wreath laying, rifle salute & Taps)

8:30 a.m. -- Batavia VA Medical Center

8:45 a.m. -- NYS Veterans Home

9:30 a.m. -- Upton Monument (routes 5 and 63) (wreath laying, rifle salute & Taps)

9:45 a.m. -- Batavia Cemetery, Harvester Avenue, City of Batavia (wreath laying, rifle salute & Taps)

10 a.m. -- Elmwood Cemetery, off Harvester Avenue and Webster Street in the city (AL #332)

10 a.m. -- CITY PARADE -- Begins at the Eastown Plaza traveling west along Main Street and ending at Jerome Center on Bank Street at 10:45 a.m.

10:45 a.m. -- UMMC -- Jerome Center:

  • Memorial Day ceremonies: Invocation; National Anthem with Batavia Concert Band; G.A.R. Order of the Day; Veterans Service Organizations Commemorations; wreath laying with Gold Star Mothers; Honor Roll with drum roll; rifle salute; Taps; Benediction; "God Bless America."

Noon -- Hansen Brothers Grave -- Grandview Cemetery on Clinton Street Road, Batavia (MCL #951)

Participating organizations:

Hansen Borthers Marine Corps League Detachment #951

Glenn S. Loomis American Legion Post #332

Veness-Strollo Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #1602

Disabled American Veterans Chapter #166

Vietnam Veterans of American Chapter #193

Sons of Union Veterans Abraham Lincoln Camp #6

 

Here are more local Memorial Day ceremonies/parades:

  • ALEXANDER: Parade begins at 10:30 a.m. at the Alexander High School and travels to the cemetery on Railroad Avenue with a ceremony to take place at the cemetery following the parade.

  • BERGEN: Parade at 9 a.m. beginning at the Fire Hall (Route 19 & Hunter Street), traveling south on Route 19 to Hickory Park with ceremony to take place at the park immediately following the parade.
  •  
  • BYRON: Parade at 11 a.m. from Terry Street to Swamp Road with a ceremony immediately following at Byron Cemetery.
  • CORFU: Parade at noon from Corfu Fire hall on Route 33 to the Intermediate School on Route 77. Ceremony immediately following the parade.

  • ELBA: Ceremony at Maple Lawn Cemetery at 10 a.m. No parade. The Elba Historical Society Museum will be open for tours after the ceremony.
  •  
  • LEROY: Parade at 10:30 a.m. from the American Legion to Trigon Park with a ceremony at Trigon Park at 11 a.m. following the parade.
  • OAKFIELD: Parade at 11 a.m. from the Oakfield Fire Dept. to Triangle Park with ceremony to be held at Triangle Park.

  • PAVILION: Ceremony at 10 a.m. at the Town Park at intersection of routes 63 and 19. No parade.

No parades/ceremonies for the following:

  • Alabama

  • Bethany

  • Darien

  • Pembroke

  • Stafford

May 28, 2016 - 2:06pm
posted by Billie Owens in steve hawley, news, veterans, Memorial Day.

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia), the ranking Minority member of the Assembly Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and a veteran of the Ohio Army National Guard and U.S. Army Reserves, on Friday remembered members of the United States Military who fought and gave their lives in service to our country and thanked those who still serve to defend our freedom.

“I would like to wish all the veterans and active military personnel in my district and throughout New York State a happy and safe Memorial Day weekend. Thank you for your courage and sacrifice which ensures our freedom and protects our way of life. I ask everyone, as you spend time with your family and friends this weekend, remember that freedom isn’t free and please take time to thank the veterans in your life,” Hawley said.

May 28, 2016 - 1:49pm
posted by Billie Owens in Le Roy, news, Ranzenhofer, veterans.

Senator Michael Ranzenhofer honors twin brothers Thomas R. Wood Sr. and William Charles Wood III, both of Le Roy, for their service in the United States Marine Corps. and in the community during an induction ceremony at the State Capitol.
 
Submitted photo and press release:
 
Thomas R. Wood Sr. and William Charles Wood III have been selected by State Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer as New York State Senate Veterans’ Hall of Fame inductees for the 61st District. The Veterans’ Hall of Fame honors and recognizes outstanding veterans from the Empire State who have distinguished themselves in military and civilian life.
 
“I am very proud to be honoring Thomas and William for their service during the First Gulf War,” Ranzenhofer said. “Like so many of our service men and women, they returned home to continue serving their community when their military service was completed. For over two decades, they have been firefighters for the Le Roy Fire Department, and they continue to be active in coaching youth sports.”
 
The Wood brothers entered the United States Marine Corps. in 1988, attending boot camp together at Parris Island, S.C. Later, in 1990, the twin brothers would be called upon to serve their country in the First Gulf War. Thomas served as part of an amphibious task force aboard the USS Nassau, and William served with a forward combat unit, Romeo 5/11.
 
Both men received many awards for their exemplary service, including: Combat Action Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal, and Liberating Kuwait Medal. William also earned the Southwest Asia Service Metal with two Stars; National Defense Service Award; Sea Service Deployment Ribbon; and Rifle Sharp Shooter Badge. In addition, Thomas was awarded a Meritorious Mast for his actions during a helicopter crash in South Korea, as well as an Oversea Ribbon with four Clusters.
 
“It is a true honor just to be nominated let alone awarded such a prestigious honor. I am very humbled to be in the presence of other veterans. I wish to thank Senator Ranzenhofer for the award and recognize my two children, Chelsie and Tommy, for always being there along with my parents, Ann and Billy. God Bless America and Semper Fi,” Thomas said.
 
“I'm honored to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Thank you to Senator Ranzenhofer for nominating me, as well as my loving wife, Kathy, my kids, Riley and Alyssa, and my parents for their continued support. In closing, I am very humbled about this award because there are more deserving veterans. Semper Fi,” William said.
 
These two distinguished Marines were honorably discharged at the rank of Corporal in 1992. They have been involved for years with youth sports and as members of the American Legion. They have been firefighters for the Le Roy Fire Department for more than two decades, serving in many leadership positions. William has been named Firefighter of the Year twice. More recently, Thomas received the Department’s highest honor, the Medal of Valor.
 
Currently, Thomas is an officer at the Federal Detention Facility in Batavia, while William works at the Thruway Authority. William and his wife, Kathy, have two children, Alyssa and Riley. Thomas has two children, Chelsie and Thomas.
May 27, 2016 - 11:21am
posted by Howard B. Owens in ptsd clinic, veterans, Batavia VA, news.

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Frank Grillo submitted these photos and story about the dog run being installed at the PTSD clinic at the Batavia VA.

I know how important the small things are.

I know when your scraping and clawing and fighting to regain your life that every advantage can mean the difference between life and death. 

When I came home I never slept. I watched out the windows, I patrolled my home. I gained over 100 pounds and began to fail at school and life. What brought me back? My dog.

Reba watched out the windows. Reba listened for sounds so I didn't have to. Her hearing was better; she constantly stared out the window and when I said "Reba, Whats That?" she would barrel from window to window on high alert. 

When I arrived at the PTSD clinic I was immediately greeted like a criminal. Breathalyzers and urinalysis as well as a search of my belongings. The windows would only open four inches because someone from Texas jumped out of his window and because it was early spring the heaters were still on bringing my room to a not so comfy 90+ degrees.

The program was being run by a woman who did not know how to balance what was best for the vet against the regulations.

This was a colossal mess but I did three tours in Iraq and I could handle all the above.

I lasted less than one day.

Why?

I didn't have my dog.

Fast forward three years. I've given up on almost all of my volunteering. Too many fake programs cashing in on veterans. 

I did keep on, however, keep up with the VA Veterans Advisors Council for two reasons:

  • because my friend Patrick brought me in;
  • and because I believe in the Director Brian Stiller, who is himself a Navy veteran. 

For almost a year we brought the fight to allow service dogs into the PTSD program and thanks to a language loophole and Brian's willingness to do the right thing, to act on principal FOR the veteran in spite of the ridiculous bureaucracy, and we prevailed. 

A veteran who found it too tough to stay in the program without his service dog eventually returned to Batavia to complete the program, and to his credit he pioneered the possibility of service dogs at the residential treatment program. 

Next we asked, "What can we do to make this permanent?" and Director Stiller responded, "We need a place to let the run off vest."

Immediately I reached out to my brothers at the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association Chapter 19-6 in Batavia.

We raised the funding and created the fenced-in pen you see in this picture. Yesterday, we returned to build a shelter where the combat veteran can sit in case he or she cannot stand. A place the veteran can relax out of the elements while his or her most loyal companion can run and play and unwind.

These dogs are easing the burden and saving the lives of veterans every day just as my Reba did for me. It is my privlidge and our chapter's honor to make that kind of advantage a possibility for our fellow combat veterans.

God bless America.

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May 17, 2016 - 11:01am
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, news, veterans, Operation Desert Storm.

(Submitted photo of George Mirrione when he arrived home after serving in the Gulf War.)

Press release:

Twenty-five years ago, more than 600,000 service members took part in Operation Desert Storm, at the time the largest deployment of U.S. Armed Forces since Vietnam. George Mirrione, then an Army Private First Class was attached to the 5th Engineer Battalion(Combat) of the 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized) was one of those who left friends and family behind to serve our nation and secure a victory for freedom.

On May 30, Mirrione, who grew up in Akron and now lives in Batavia, will march among more than 500 Gulf War veterans in the American Veterans Center’s National Memorial Day Parade in Washington, D.C.

To mark the 25th anniversary of Operation Desert Storm and honor those who served and sacrificed, the National Desert Storm War Memorial Association and America Veterans Center have invited more than 500 Gulf War veterans to reunite at the National Memorial Day Parade. The veterans are participating thanks to the National Desert Storm War Memorial Association and its mission to honor the legacy of the Gulf War though building a monument in the nation’s capital to the 383 service members who fell during the war and honoring those who served in this pivotal moment in world history.

“While foremost our mission at the National Desert Storm War Memorial Association is to build a monument to our fallen brothers and sisters, we are also committed to honoring the many hundreds of thousands of men and women who left homes, jobs, and families to stand up for America’s values,” said Scott Stump, founder, president and CEO of the National Desert Storm War Memorial Association.

“We are so glad that veterans like George Mirrione are marching with us to teach Americans about the service and sacrifice made by all veterans of Operation Desert Storm.”

Mirrione and other veterans will follow part of the same route service members returning from the Middle East marched 25 years ago. Like their comrades of the past, Mirrione will be met with the cheers of hundreds of thousands of patriotic Americans. By honoring Gulf War veterans alongside veterans of World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and our most recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the parade will cement Operation Desert Storm as one of our nation’s key battles for freedom.

In 2014, Congress passed legislation and President Barack Obama signed a law approving construction of the National Desert Storm War Memorial in Washington, D.C. Since that day, the National Desert Storm War Memorial Association has been working to build the monument and aims to raise the millions of dollars needed to support that mission.

To learn more about the Desert Storm War Memorial Association and its participation in the Memorial Day Parade, contact Fred Wellman, Public Relations chair, NDSWM Board of Directors at 202-957-2688 or [email protected]. To learn more about the American Veterans Center’s National Memorial Day Parade, visit http://www.americanveteranscenter.org/avc-events/parade/

ABOUT THE NATIONAL DESERT STORM WAR MEMORIAL ASSOCIATION:
The National Desert Storm War Memorial Association is a 501(c)3 organization with the sole mission of constructing a Desert Storm War Memorial in Washington, D.C. The association is led by a board of directors comprised of Desert Storm Veterans from all branches of the military and from across the country. You can learn more about the effort and donate to this important cause at www.ndswm.org.

May 13, 2016 - 3:26pm
posted by Billie Owens in steve hawley, veterans, patriot trip, news.

(Submitted photo: Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) joined veterans and their family members in Washington, D.C., during last year’s Patriot Trip.) 

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) today announced his ninth annual Patriot Trip to Washington, D.C., will take place Sept. 15 – 18. More than 100 veterans and their family members participated in the 2015 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 currently serves as the Ranking Minority Member of the Assembly Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. The trip can accommodate about 100 veterans and family members so those looking to sign up should do so as soon as possible.

 “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 following 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 this reason that I continue the Patriot Trip each year and encourage my constituents who are veterans to sign up as soon as possible.”

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

  • WWII 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

Space is limited and signups are first come, first served, with priority given to the oldest veterans and first-time attendees. Immediate family members may accompany a veteran. If you or a veteran want more information about this year’s Patriot Trip IX, please call 585-589-5780 or e-mail [email protected]. To view photos from previous years, use the following link: http://vetsdctrip2008.shutterfly.com/.

April 25, 2016 - 4:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in veterans, chris collins, NY-27, news.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today released the following statement recognizing United States Navy Veteran, Kenneth A. Dehm, of Batavia, as New York 27th Congressional District’s April "Veteran of the Month." The "Veteran of the Month" is a new program established by Congressman Collins’ office to recognize the dedication and service of NY-27’s veterans.

“I was honored to have the opportunity to meet with Ken and his family and hear him share memories of his time in the service,” Congressman Collins said. “To have so many of Ken’s family members and friends in attendance to see Ken receive this honor was truly special.

"We are all very grateful for his service. My office will continue to recognize a local ‘Veteran of the Month’ as a small thank you to the thousands of Western New York veterans who have selflessly served our country.”

Kenneth Dehm served in the United States Navy from 1942-1946. During his years of service, Kenneth served aboard the U.S.S. Barnegat. Congressman Collins joined Ken’s children, grandchildren and other family and friends at a ceremony where he presented Kenneth with a Congressional Certificate of Commendation and a flag flown over the United States Capitol Building.

Mr. Dehm was presented this recognition at a ceremony at the Glenn S. Loomis VFW Post 332 on Saturday, April 23rd. A certificate from Assemblyman Steve Hawley was also presented at the ceremony.

Each month, Congressman Chris Collins will recognize a local "Veteran of the Month" with an American flag that was flown over the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., and a Congressional Commendation Certificate.

April 16, 2016 - 2:38pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in PTSD, ptsd clinic, VA, veterans, batavia, news.

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Service dogs play a vital role in helping veterans deal with medical issues, including Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). But when the dogs stay with veterans at the PTSD clinic at the VA Center in Batavia, there hasn't been a place for them to relax, play and run, which service dogs need to do when they're not working.

Until recently, veterans who entered in-patient care at the clinic weren't allowed to bring their dogs, but now that they can; there needs to be facilities to accommodate the canines.

The Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association heard about the problem and raised more than $1,400 (mostly from their own members, but the Rotary Club and Home Depot also contributed) to build a dog run behind the clinic.

Today, that fenced-in dog run was built, giving the service dogs a place of their own when they're not working.

The work was made possible through the cooperation of the CVMA, led by Frank Grillo, of Buffalo, and Brian Stiller, Medical Center director for the WNY Medical Healthcare System.

While there have been a lot of complaints nationally about the VA, Grillo noted the VA in WNY seems pretty responsive to veterans and he praised Stiller for his cooperation.

"You hear a lot of people talking a lot of bad stuff about the VA, but then you get a guy who is a veteran himself leading a portion of the VA, and it's kind of inspirational to see somebody who cares actually stepping up and helping us do what we need to do to help our fellow veterans," Grillo said.

Stiller said he could help because the current secretary of the VA has said principles should come before rules.

"We can pull this off by having somebody who has a can-do attitude and this group of veterans," Stiller said. "This is something that has happened real quick and it shows how the community can come together and do a simple, real good thing right on time. It speaks volumes for the commitment and caring that is going on."

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February 19, 2016 - 4:18pm
posted by Billie Owens in steve hawley, veterans.

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) today announced that a new free mobile app, compatible with iOS and Android, is available for veterans and their family members to help them connect with important programs and resources.

The New York State Veterans App provides users with information on healthcare, housing, education, employment and a host of other issues at the touch of a finger.

“Our state is home to nearly one million veterans and helping them easily access vital programs and services is extremely important,” Hawley said. “Far too often, our veterans are not aware of the help available to them and are left without a strong support system.

"This announcement perfectly illustrates how government can better serve citizens through technology and how knowledge can be easily accessed by those who need it most. I look forward to using this app myself and informing my constituents on this breakthough in veterans’ affairs services.”

Hawley is a veteran himself and serves as Ranking Republican Member of the Assembly’s Veterans Affairs Committee.

February 10, 2016 - 10:17am
posted by Howard B. Owens in alexander, veterans, batavia.

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Samuel C. Norris, 91, of Batavia, formerly of Alexander, was lain to rest Tuesday with full military honors.

Norris, a past assistant chief of the Alexander Volunteer Fire Department, served with Canada in World War II. His unit landed on Juno Beach, France, on D-Day.

He was born Dec. 30, 1924 in Welland, Ontario, Canada.

For full obituary, click here.

Photos by Laura Friend.

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January 28, 2016 - 2:50pm
posted by Billie Owens in assemblyman steve hawley, veterans, business.

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) recently announced that he will host Operation Entrepreneurship, free business start-up training for veterans and military family members. The event will take place on Thursday, Feb. 4, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Genesee Community College in Room T119.

**To register, contact Greg Lindberg at 716-551-5670 or visit www.events.sba.gov**

“As a veteran and small-business owner, I know firsthand the challenges and dedication it takes to succeed in both of these fields,” Hawley said. “I built my business from the ground up and am constantly evolving, evaluating and challenging myself to succeed in New York’s lackluster and competitive business climate.

"I look forward to meeting and working with veterans and their families who have an interest in starting and owning their own business because the American dream is alive and well, and I want to help people realize it.”

The event is being sponsored by the Small Business Association (SBA) and topics covered will include introduction to business ownership, finding the right idea, introduction to business planning, understanding market research, choosing the correct legal entity and other issues. SBA Buffalo District Office Director, Franklin J. Sciortino, also praised the event’s merits.

“The SBA supports our veterans, service members and military families through a number of initiatives,” Sciortino said. “The Operation Entrepreneurship program creates an opportunity for our veterans to learn how to start up in a day, discover resources available to support their business success, and network with other like-minded entrepreneurs.”

WHAT:           Operation Entrepreneurship – Free entrepreneurship training for veterans and military family members

WHO:             Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia)                      

WHEN:           Thursday, Feb. 4

                        8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

WHERE:        Genesee Community College 

                        Room T119, 

                        1 College Road

                        Batavia, NY 14020

November 11, 2015 - 1:37pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in veterans, Upton Monument, batavia.

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Veterans were a baffled by this setup when they arrived at the Upton Monument this morning. They aren't sure if this was meant as some sort of message or it's just somebody's litter. The boxes were all empty.

Submitted photo.

November 6, 2015 - 3:19pm

Press release:

On Friday, Nov. 6th, the Veterans One-stop Center of Western New York officially opened its Batavia office. Located at 29 Liberty St., the Grand Opening and Open House gave the community an opportunity to visit the new space and meet Veterans One-stop Center of WNY staff. Stakeholders from the community were present to support the event.

“Today is a wonderful day for the Veterans community. This community has been in need of this type of organization for decades and I look forward to working with the Veterans One-Stop Center of WNY and continuing to help Veterans in the community,” said Gary Horton, member of the Veterans One-stop Center of WNY Board of Directors and former board member of the Genesee Veterans Support Network.

In July of this year, the Genesee Veterans Support Network consolidated with the Veterans One-stop Center of WNY.

“For the past year, we have been privileged to work with dedicated veterans’ advocates in Genesee and Wyoming counties to make this day possible,” said Roger L. Woodworth, president & CEO of the Veterans One-stop Center of WNY. “We look forward to continuing to work with the community to invest in our veterans, providing access to opportunities that allow veterans to continue to serve as civic assets.”

With the opening of the new Batavia office, the Veterans One-stop Center of WNY will be able to more effectively empower veterans in the region through their successful model of community impact. Veterans and military family members will have access to services that lead to economic success, housing stability, and emotional health and well being.

The Veterans One-stop Center of WNY provides local support for veterans in collaboration with existing local, regional and national resources.

October 30, 2015 - 1:10pm
posted by Billie Owens in steve hawley, veterans.

A statement from Assemblyman Steve Hawley:

“As a veteran, I am appalled by Gov. Cuomo’s recent veto of the Veterans Buyback bill. This legislation would have allowed honorably discharged veterans to purchase up to three years of their service from New York State to count toward their public retirement system benefits. More importantly, veterans who have served in conflicts such as Bosnia, Afghanistan and Somalia, are not given the option for a service credit and this bill would have addressed such a concern.

“I am deeply troubled that Gov. Cuomo supports taxpayer-funded college tuition for illegal immigrants but refuses to sign this legislation as a token of gratitude for those that have honorably defended our freedom. The legislature overwhelmingly passed this measure for the second straight year and Gov. Cuomo blatantly ignored the pulse of the people. Furthermore, he again vetoed the bill days before Veterans Day (Nov. 11), adding insult to injury and further alienating our needy veterans. This act illustrates the governor’s myopic view of the public’s needs and I plan to push this legislation when we head back into session in January.”

October 17, 2015 - 7:32am
posted by Billie Owens in veterans, American Legion, batavia.

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American Legion National Commander Dale Barnett visited Batavia Friday and spoke with veterans at the VA Center.

His Fall Meetings in communities nationwide are aimed at publicizing three things, primarily: the Walk with Veterans campaign to raise awareness about veterans; the VA healthcare system and its value; and role the Amercian Legion plays in fighting for veterans' rights regarding education, jobs, and mental health/reintegration services.

He told the local group that he believes the Veterans Administration is a system worth saving, that it provides greatly needed services for veterans and their families.

Barnett mentioned the Veterans Opportunity to Work Act, which the legion successfully lobbied in favor of, state licensing credits, the expanded GI Bill of Rights and new educational opportunties, including the ability to transfer educational benefits to spouse or children.

"We're fighting for benefits that affect them," he said. "We fight for veterans and their families."

Asked about efforts to shore up declining membership, especially among younger vets, Barnett said education and awareness are key. They can't help fix problem if they aren't aware of them.

Since active duty military personnel and National Guards reservists can't lobby legislators about proposed defense cuts, Barnett said, so it's imperative that newly retired and non-active personnel fill that gap, both for the sake of U.S. safety and preparedness, and the benefits and services at stake.

Asked about the alarming rate of suicides among young veterans, he noted that every day 22 veterans take their life. Barnett said the VA is branching out in its efforts to help self-healing, "with less reliance on narcotics, over-medication that may have occurred in hospitals nationwide."

Plus, they've help develop creative programs to help war-weary vets meld back into society and overcome bad experiences, citing a program that pairs vets with horses in Saratoga and another equine program in Montana. There's also the "Dogs for Heroes" program.

And no one is better suited to understanding the wounds of war better than other veterans, Barnett said.

Photo and information provided by our news partner, WBTA.

September 15, 2015 - 10:23pm
posted by Robert Brown in veterans, fundraiser, Buffet, Batavia Downs.
Event Date and Time: 
September 23, 2015 - 5:30pm to 9:30pm
Batavia Downs Gaming at 8315 Park Rd. Batavia is hosting Vets Night at the races. Cost is $20 (half of all proceeds will benefit the Monroe County Veterans Court Mentor Program) per person and includes: Clubhouse Buffet, $2 Horse Wager Voucher, $15 free play, FREE racing program ($2 value) including a $5 free play coupon, T-shirt, No Ride Poker Run Entry (prize for best hand). The buffet opens at 5:30 PM - you will be asked for your arrival time when you make your reservation. There will be a Chinese auction on site with all proceeds going to the MCVCMP.
September 1, 2015 - 5:00pm
posted by Billie Owens in veterans, steve hawley.

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) today announced that U.S. veterans who paid a New York State Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) fee of $12.50 to have a distinguishing mark on their driver’s license or identification card will be issued a refund.

Hawley, a veteran and Ranking Minority Member of the Assembly’s Veterans’ Affairs Committee, praised the law, which was signed into law in August.

“I am proud to have championed and voted for this legislation on behalf of our veterans and the sacrifices they have endured,” Hawley said. “Many restaurants and businesses already offer discounts to vets and this law will make proving one’s status convenient and fool proof.

"I applaud my colleagues in the Assembly and Senate for passing this measure and consider it a small token of gratitude for those who have given our country so much.”

The law applies to those seeking a “veteran” designation on or after Oct. 3, 2012. The DMV will be automatically sending a refund to those who qualify.

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