Honoring Putnam County Veterans

In honor of Veterans Day 2020, the Putnam County Historian’s Office has released a video slideshow featuring images from the Putnam County Service Medal Ceremony from June 2019, featuring World War II and Korean War Veterans.

“It’s nice to remember a time when we could all safely gather for a ceremony honoring our heroes,” says Michael Bartolotti, Putnam County Clerk, who is also a member of the Service Medal Committee.  “Although many of us cannot be together for traditional Veterans Day ceremonies during the pandemic, we’re pleased to offer this virtual experience as a tribute to those who participated in that historic event.”

In 1919, Putnam County issued a service medal to recognize the service of its residents in World War I, the war to end all wars.  One hundred years later, Putnam County, solely through private donations, commissioned a recreation of a service medal to honor recent veterans. That original medal, featuring a Native American, was redesigned by local sculptor Michael Keropian of Kent, NY, in the likeness of Chief Daniel Nimham, the last sachem of the Wappinger People of the Hudson River Valley, who, along with his Stockbridge Warriors were among the first American veterans, fighting for the Patriots during the Revolutionary War.

The images from the first Putnam County Service Medal Ceremony have been added to the enormous photographic image collection at the Putnam County Historian’s Office and Archives.  Todd Gianguzzi of Gianguzzi Photography generously donated his time and talents to photograph the event and now digital copies are stored in the archives for generations to come.

Select images have been set to the music “Fanfare for Freedom”, composed by Quincy Hilliard and performed by the West Point Band and is featured on their album, United States Military Academy: 200 Years of Excellence.  “We were quite pleased that we had the opportunity to partner with West Point on this project,” says Melinda Miller of the Putnam County Historian’s Office.

“This is just one of a number of virtual exhibits we have been working on during the pandemic.  We hope to provide another compilation of the 100th anniversary medal ceremony from November 2019 where many more Putnam County Veterans were awarded their service medals,” says Miller, “and Todd was right there again, donating his time to photograph another historic event.”

For more information on applications for service medals, or to make a donation to ensure the continuation of this program, please contact the Putnam County Veterans Service Agency at 845-808-1620 or visit www.putnamcountyny.com/vsa/

Putnam County Memorial Day Events & Festivities 2019

Friday , Saturday , Sunday,
May 24, 25,26, 2019:

Putnam County Joint Veterans Council-
John Morris Memorial Watchfire Vigil, each night
6 PM-6AM May 24,25,26 Opening Ceremony Friday the 24th at 7:00 PM
Flag Retirement through out the Vigil.

Sunday May 26, 2019:
VFW Post 1374 & Auxiliary, Carmel & American Legion Post 270-
9:30 AM Ceremony at monument on Terryhill Road, Kent
11:00 AM Ceremony at Post Home 32 Gleneida Ave, Carmel
Refreshments to follow 11:30 Ceremony

Monday May 27, 2019:
VFW Post 391, Putnam Valley-
11:00 AM Ceremony Putnam Valley Town Hall
12:00 Ceremony Lake Peekskill Monument (Chester Place)
1:00 PM Ceremony Post Home 153 Oscawanna Lake Road
Refreshments to follow 1:00 PM ceremony at Post Home
2:00PM Start of “Round of Honor”. Visiting grave sites, cemeteries, and monuments in vicinity, including Lakeland High School, Bill Mongero Park

VFW Post 672, Brewster ( American Legion Post 71 & Marine Corps League Detachment 242 will be participating)
Parade from Brewster Fire House to Veterans Park (formerly known as Electrozone Field (step off 11:00 AM)
Ceremony at Veterans Park following parade.
Light Lunch to follow at VFW Post Home on Peaceable Hill Road

VFW Post 2362 and American Legion Post 275 Cold Spring-
9:00 AM step off at 85 Main St, Cold Spring Village Hall, to Veterans Memorial on Mains St, then onto the Old Cold Spring Cemetery (Revolutionary War), then to Nelsonville Town Hall. Ceremony at each location. Refreshments to follow at American Legion/VFW Hall on Cedar Street.

VFW Post & Auxiliary 5491 Mahopac & American Legion Post 1080-
Parade from Clarke Place to Veterans Memorial Park on East Lake Blvd. (step off 10:00 AM)
Ceremony to follow at Monument
American Legion Post 1080 Ceremony at noon following VFW
Ceremony at 333 Buckshollow Road
Refreshments to follow at VFW Post home
154 East Lake Blvd & at the Legion Post 333 Buckshollow Rd.

VFW Post 9257& Auxiliary & AMVET Post 1111 Putnam Lake-
Parade and Ceremony at The Monument located at the intersec-tion of Fairfield and Haviland Dr.
10:00- parade step off from The Castle Building located on Haviland Dr.
Refreshments to be served at VFW 9257, located at 4 Fairfield Dr, Patterson NY 12563

VFW Post 8013, Somers-
Annual Memorial Day Parade and Remembrance Ceremony. Step off

World War Two Veteran Robert Graham was given a wonderful send off

There can be no heavy handed words this day. Amid a sea of hundreds of Veterans, active duty service members and good people World War Two Veteran Robert Graham was given a wonderful send off. His life and times were not in vain he will now be long remembered and honored by many. His wonderful young friend, Beth Regan, managed to struggle through a moving eulogy of Bob Graham. A eulogy that reminded the people packing the church that there are indeed good people in this world. Two of them shined on this day 27 year old Beth and 97 year old Bob. Beth made us cry with her words. Bob gave hope with his time on earth. This year when the Putnam County Row of Honor graces the shores of Lake Gleneida in Carmel there will be an American flag to honor the memory of Robert Graham at the request of County Executive MaryEllen Odell. The flag will also honor home town girl Beth Regan of Putnam Valley. Not in words but in spirit because if not for her intrepid energy and good heart Bob would be forgotten.

Beth stood in front of the church as a Marine Corps Honor Guard folded the American Flag that had graced Bob’s coffin. They folded it in clean precise folds. They inspected it and saluted our Nation’s flag. The young sergeant did a precise about face and with reverence marched to the girl with tears in her eyes and tears in her heart. There being no living relative the flag was presented to Beth. Beth in reality became at that moment in time and forever after Robert Graham’s last living relative.

Written by Karl Rohde, Director | Putnam County Veterans Service Agency

Putnam County Helps Family Decorate a WWI Veteran’s Grave

CARMEL, NY – Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell and the Putnam County Veterans Service Agency assisted a family in decorating their grandfather’s grave to signify he had served in the U.S. Army.

James V Christian served in the U.S. Army during World War I and was wounded in battle. He met his wife, Anna, while he was recovering at Walter Reed Hospital. They married after his release and settle in Cold Spring, where they raised two sons and had seven grandchildren. Christian died in 1968 and is buried in Cold Spring Cemetery. Nothing on his headstone indicated his status as a Veteran. His granddaughter Gail Christian Byrnes asked for help from the Putnam County Veterans Service Agency.

On Tuesday, Aug. 28, the day after the 120th anniversary of Christian’s birth, a brief ceremony was held at his grave with family members, fellow veterans and Odell in attendance. On his headstone was a newly installed Bronze Medallion indicating his status as a Veteran of the United States Army.  The medallion was acquired from the National Cemetery Administration through the efforts of agency Deputy Director Art Hanley who also installed it with guidance and help from Don Hustis, Doug Logan and Jack Duncan.

“Those men and women who risk it all to protect our freedoms deserve their service to be remembered for generations, Odell said during the ceremony.  “Mr. Christian sounds like his life was something that only the movies are telling these days—a love story after a war and then a life well lived with a family who loved and remembers him.”

The ceremony concluded with agency Director Karl Rohde reciting a verse from the Bible, followed by the playing of TAPS by Joseph Baldanza as the Veterans present rendered salutes.

Dwyer Vet2Vet of Putnam Expands Scope of Peer-to-Peer Community Building in 2018

Women’s History Month Kicks off New Ways to Reach Former Military Women and Families
to Provide Sense of Purpose and Help Finding Quality of Life and Benefit Resources

PUTNAM COUNTY, NY (March 14, 2018) – The Joseph P. Dwyer Vet2Vet Program of Putnam is kicking off 2018 in force with four dedicated groups catering to the unique social and emotional support needs of former military personnel. The program and groups are open to ALL former military, regardless of discharge status or service dates, and are customized based on demographic categories and interests, including an art and writing-focused  Outreach Studio, Women’s Outreach Group, Families & Spouses of Former Military, and a fourth Veterans Outreach Program, which is currently presenting episodes of the PBS special series, “The Vietnam War”.

Among the organization’s key initiatives for 2018 is outreach to former military women. Consistent with the Dwyer Vet2Vet peer-to-peer program philosophy, the Women’s Group is facilitated by two female veterans, Mary Wagner, retired Chief Master Sergeant, New York Air National Guard, and 1st Lieutenant Edie Meeks, who served as a combat nurse during the Vietnam War. The Dwyer Vet2Vet Women’s Group meets on the third Thursday of the month in Putnam County. Prospective attendees should check the website for meeting location details, www.dwyervet2vetputnam.org. The group aims to reach out to former military women who are often underserved due to their reluctance to identify themselves as veterans based upon painful or traumatic episodes, including military sexual assault (MST). For more info, contact Mary Wagner via email, mwagner@mhaputnam.org.

“There’s a special kinship and commonality of understanding among former military personnel that effectively breaks down communication barriers leading to productive discussions,” said Mary Wagner, Vet2Vet Women’s Group Facilitator. “Women who have served don’t necessarily want to go through their entire story and relive every aspect of their trauma or combat experience. But they do find extraordinary benefits associated with socializing with a community of other women who understand where they are coming from. We just want to get these women engaged, build a community of friends, and create a fun and safe peer-led environment.”


Ms. Wagner and Ms. Meeks are working together with John Bourges, program coordinator, Dwyer Vet2Vet of Putnam County, to organize a brainstorming lunch to commemorate the 25th anniversary dedication of the Women’s Vietnam Memorial Statue in Washington D.C. in November.  “We are looking for former military women to participate in this planning session and become part of our community,” says Wagner. “If you are a female veteran or former military in any capacity and you’re interested in getting involved, please contact me via email at mwagner@mhaputnam.org. We have also launched a dedicated Facebook Group for our female vets. Those interested in joining should search the group name: Former Military Women of Hudson Valley.”

Bourges points out that former military personnel participating in any of the organization’s four programs will benefit from involvement in group activities. “We regularly host a free Saturday movie morning at the Carmel Cinema for veterans and their families, as well as an array of monthly meetings and events, including a monthly writing workshop, painting, an annual Veterans’ Chow Down at the Putnam County Golf Course, Hudson Valley Renegades events, an equestrian program, and we recently launched a new 24-hour warm line service for former military personnel who have a need to speak with a veteran peer counselor.”

“One of the most important aspects of the Dwyer Vet2Vet Program is virtually unrestricted access to our services,” says Bourges. “The Veterans Administration has a strictly defined eligibility standard that can exclude certain former military personnel from veterans’ benefits.  The Dwyer Vet2Vet program does not adopt any restrictions to service length or discharge status. Any former military professional can take part in the Vet2Vet program and we encourage anyone who is struggling with isolation, depression, PTSD or the day-to-day challenges of acclimating to civilian life, to contact us and participate in one of our four groups.”

Veterans interested in learning more about Dwyer Vet2Vet of Putnam or volunteering may visit the website at www.dwyervet2vetputnam.org.

Rally the Troops! Putnam County SITREP Volume 7 Issue 11 Debt of Honor Edition

Rally the Troops!

We need all Veterans and friends of Veterans to call governor Cuomo.   Demand that the New York State Division of Veterans’ Affairs maintain their presence in the Putnam County Veterans Agency Office.  Click here for more information as well as other great articles and more!


Cutting Veterans’ Services – It’s Déjà Vu All Over Again

Cutting Veterans’ Services – It’s Déjà Vu All Over Again

By Karl Rohde, director, Putnam County Veterans Service Agency

In 1991, Governor Mario Cuomo attempted to reduce his New York State budget by cutting services to the Veterans of Putnam County.  Today, the legacy continues as his son and current NYS Governor, Andrew Cuomo, attempts a similar strategy.

First, a bit of history — Back in 1991 the New York Division of Veterans Affairs announced that they were going to close the Putnam County office for budgetary reasons.  The closing of the office was going to save about $50,000 out of a $5 Million Budget that had to be cut by $500,000.  Fortunately, Putnam succeeded in mobilizing its Veterans and won a reprieve. As part of the new deal, the Putnam County office would remain open, but the County would foot the bill to house the NY State Division Service officer, and provide secretarial assistance for the two days the service officer was on site.  In addition, the County would also provide clerical assistance on the other three days of the week to schedule appointments, as well as providing phone service and computer access at no charge to the State.

After the State’s second attempt to close the Putnam Office in April 2015 was thwarted, I formally requested, as Director of the Putnam County Veterans Service Agency and provider of free office space, clerical support and amenities to the NYS Division of Veterans Affairs, that we receive notification when and if the Putnam Office would be closed. That following January of 2016, the Division closed the office.  Putnam Veterans Services had to reschedule an estimated 50 Veteran client appointments to other dates at a location in Castle Point, which is about 25 miles from our office in Carmel.  Again, we fought and won to reopen our office, so our Veterans, many of whom are elderly and disabled, would not have to bear the burden of inconvenient, costly and unnecessary travel to meet with a Veterans Service Officer to apply for compensation due to military service.

The punishment continued in 2016 when the Division tried to limit Putnam to one day per week with a Veterans Service Officer.  That was also stopped when we proved the need in Putnam for at least two days per week, if not more.

Now in May of 2017, just weeks before Memorial Day, and the New York State Division, at the insistence of Governor Andrew Cuomo, is keen on denying services to the Veterans of Putnam County again.

In order to save money, the Putnam Office will be closed.  This is nonsense. The Division has to save $300,000 in the current budget.  Notwithstanding that the Governor wants to cut his budget on behalf of Veterans, this closing makes little sense.  Our Veterans Service Officer, Brennan Mahoney, will still be employed 5 days per week by the Division.  He will do all those days at Castle Point alongside another fulltime service officer at the same location.  The Veterans of Putnam, Northern Westchester and Southern Dutchess will now be forced to commute to Castle Point to see Brennan even though there is a second service officer already covering the Castle Point location – and where is the cost savings?  It should also be noted that while the clerk at Castle Point is paid by the State of New York, the clerk in Putnam County still costs the State of New York nothing.

The travel expense and inconvenience to these Veterans has not been considered in the least.  The age of the Veteran or the disability that makes travel difficult has not been weighed in this decision.

Why are these statewide cuts being aimed at the very group of people that the New York State Division of Veterans Affairs is mandated to serve?  To put a fine point on it, why is the Division targeting its own clients?  There are no suggested cut backs in management headcount or salary.  No mention of trying to lower the costs in areas where they rent and or lease office buildings.  Rather than a knee jerk response, why weren’t the cuts more thoughtfully vetted?

Veterans and family members who wish to learn answers to these questions should contact Eric J. Hesse, director, New York State Division of Veterans Affairs at (518) 474-6114.

Putnam County Honors U.S. Military with Row of Honor Installation and Annual Pancake Breakfast Kickoff on May 20th

CARMEL, N.Y. – On May 20th at 11am, Putnam County’s annual Row of Honor season will commence at the Carmel VFW Hall, located on Route 52 in Carmel, N.Y. The event will kick off from 9 am to 11am with a Pancake Breakfast fundraiser organized by the Putnam County Joint Veterans Council.  All proceeds will go towards Military Suicide Awareness Programs of the Putnam County Suicide Task force. Suggested donation is $10.00 or $15.00 per family. Residents are also encouraged to sponsor a flag to honor our heroes. Please contact Veterans Services to RSVP for the Breakfast and to order your flag, 845-808-1620 or visit www.PutnamCountyNY.gov/ROH.

“We are excited as always to kick off the Row of Honor tradition with our annual pancake breakfast,” said Karl Rohde, Director of Putnam County Veterans Services. “In support of the 22 veterans who commit suicide daily and the growing population of veterans who are suffering from combat induced mental illness, we are designating funds raised by this event to support our Military Suicide Awareness programs.”

More than 200 flags, which carry the names of beloved Veterans, will continue to fly until Flag Day, June 14th. With a $100 donation, the name of a loved one can appear on a flag. The proceeds will go toward Military Suicide Awareness Programs of the Putnam County Suicide Task force.

To order your flag, call 845-808-1620 or visit PutnamCountyNY.gov/ROH. Checks can be made payable to the Joint Veterans Council to PC Veterans Service Agency, Donald B. Smith Government Campus, 110 Old Route 6, Bldg. 3, Carmel, N.Y. 10512.

Row of Honor Kick-Off Pancake Breakfast May 20th 2017

Join us for the Row of Honor Kick-Off Pancake Breakfast May 20th 2017.

Located at the Carmel VFW Hall on Route 52 Carmel New York.

All proceeds are going towards Military Suicide Awareness Programs of the Putnam County Suicide Task force

Donation : $10 per person
$15 per Family

Sponsorship is Available.

See the flyer below for more details!

Legal Services of the Hudson Valley

We are infinitely proud of what we have to offer to our Veterans and their families at the Putnam County Veterans Service Agency.  We are persistently trying to expand access to a myriad of services.  In recent years we have expanded to have a psychologist from the Vet Center of Danbury meet with Veterans on a weekly basis at the Agency office.  Monthly the VA Hudson Valley Outreach Coordinator is in the office to offer on-the-spot registration for VA health care, appointment scheduling and to answer questions regarding the VA.  We are now proud to welcome the Legal Services of the Hudson Valley (LSHV) to our office each month.

The Legal Services of the Hudson Valley will be providing free civil legal services to those who have served under the auspices of their “Veterans and Military Families Advocacy Project” In LSHV’s own words “They served their country-they deserve equal access to justice at home”.  The passion for justice they have will protect Veterans and their family’s right to the basic necessities of life as guaranteed by law.  There are a host of areas that they will offer civil legal representation in: housing, consumer affairs, Social Securities and SSI Disabilities claims, elder law, domestic violence and public benefits. Unique for Veterans and service members they offer assistance with Veteran Benefits appeals, military discharge upgrades, and military record corrections. LSHV will be at the Veterans Service Agency on the second Wednesday of the month from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM.

The more services that we can have in a single office provides the Veteran and the Veterans family with a one stop shopping venue.  Again we welcome LSHV to our family.