PUTNAM VETERANS MUSEUM HOSTS WORLD WAR II VETERAN, 97, FORMER CARMEL RESIDENT Lt. Richard G. Hopkins, USN Ret. and Daughter Donate Treasures of Storied Military Service


Lt. Richard G. Hopkins, USN Ret. and Daughter Donate Treasures of Storied Military Service

Carmel, NY, November 1, 2016 — Veterans and volunteers at the Putnam Veterans Museum recently hosted some very special guests.  World War II veteran Lt. Richard G. Hopkins, USN Ret., and his daughter Susan Hopkins came to Veterans Memorial Park in Carmel to present the museum with artifacts from his service and Putnam County’s past.

Hopkins, 97, was born on Oak Street in Brewster, and his family moved to Carmel when he was young. Now residing in Westchester, Lt. Hopkins likes to visit the museum that exhibits ship models he donated in honor of his late brother, T/5 Reed Hopkins, member of the 1257 Combat Engineers Battalion, U.S. Army.  Reed, also a Carmel native, died in France during World War II.

The ship models include the USS Decatur and USS Porter, two vessels on which Lt. Hopkins served during his 28 years of active duty with the U.S. Navy and an additional 2 years of service in the Reserves. The museum also displays a model of the USS Dahlgren, yet another model that Lt. Hopkins can detail from bow to stern.  The USS Decatur and USS Dahlgren models were made in Sweden by a master ship model-maker; the USS Porter was made in Eastham, Mass., by a master ship model-maker.

The Hopkins family has deep roots in Putnam County’s history, so deep that they precede the Revolutionary War.  Lt. Richard Hopkins is the sixth-generation descendent of Lt. Solomon Hopkins of the 6th Dutchess County Regiment with the New York Militia during the Revolutionary War.  Solomon’s wife, Elizabeth Crosby, was the sister of Enoch Crosby, the famed Revolutionary War soldier and spy.

Susan Hopkins was pleased to present a framed drawing of the Enoch Crosby house in Brewster to complement the historical display that commemorates the soldier/spy story.   “A member of the Daughters of the American Revolution Enoch Crosby Chapter gave it to me; and when I first saw the display here, I thought it would be perfect to donate it,” said Susan.

“We are so grateful to Lt. Hopkins for his service and the generosity of his family,” said County Executive MaryEllen Odell. “Adding this beautiful drawing of the Enoch Crosby house to our Veterans Memorial Museum is rare a gift. This historic treasure will be appreciated by many visitors for years to come.”

Putnam County residents and veteran-volunteers were on hand that day to host the Hopkins’. They included Jim McCarthy, Michael Tiren, and Jerry Imbo, all U.S. Army veterans.  A representative from the Putnam County Historian’s Office was on hand to record this very special visit.

“I really enjoyed hearing Richard’s fascinating account of being part of the rescue of the USS Kearney (DD-432) off Iceland after it was torpedoed by U-boats,” said Jim McCarthy, “and the stories of his incredible world-wide adventures spanning the China Sea, Casablanca and Barcelona – when as an engineer he actually met and shook hands with Generalissimo Franco while onboard the USS Coral Sea.”

Not all of Lt. Hopkins years were spent at war on the high seas. There was a time when he was stationed at the Brooklyn Army Terminal, and for two years he was in charge of the heartrending job of bringing home the war dead.  After 32 years in the service through wars and conflicts, Lt. Hopkins found it was time for a change.  “I was up for Lieutenant Commander and they said I had to do three years more and I said, ‘You can have it!’, said Hopkins with a hearty laugh. “I got a chance to work for IBM up in Fishkill so I took it.”

On this sunny fall day, Lt. Hopkins donated his display case of service medals, ribbons and awards which include two World War II campaign medals, the World War II Victory medal, combat action ribbons and an impressive number of good conduct medals.  The case will be prominently exhibited along with his service portrait, his brother’s portrait and the beloved ship models – a special and collective display of sacrifice.

Before leaving the museum, Lt. Hopkins stopped to admire another special exhibit.

“That’s the New York!” he exclaimed, pointing to the ship model of the USS New York LPD-21. This post-9-11 United States Navy warship’s bow was forged from the steel of the World Trade Center and its official motto is “Strength forged through sacrifice. Never Forget.”

Lt. Hopkins smiled and commended the veteran volunteers saying, “That’s good that you got that model!”

The Putnam County Veteran Memorial Park is located at 201 Gipsy Trail Road in Carmel. The Putnam Veterans’ Museum is open on Wednesdays from 10 am – 1 pm and is administered by the Putnam County Veterans Service Agency.


NOW IT IS their TURN TO LISTEN Putnam County Veterans Task Force 4th Annual Legislative Forum

Putnam County Veterans Task Force 4th Annual
Legislative Forum
We have invited elected officials
Who are On the
National, State & County levels
We ask you to join us at the TOPS Center
To support Veterans legislation and issues
Being Presented to those who make the laws
November 17, 2016 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM

Donald B. Smith Campus
Bureau of Emergency Services Auditorium

112 Old Route 6. Carmel, NY 10512


Fresh Connect: The New York State Division of Veterans’ Affairs has launched the third consecutive year of its Fresh Connect Checks program

Fresh Connect: The New York State Division of Veterans’ Affairs has launched the third consecutive year of its Fresh Connect Checks
program. Through this program, Veterans, Servicemembers, and their immediate family members (including surviving spouses of Veterans) are eligible to receive one set of 10 Fresh Connect Checks, each one bearing the cash equivalency of $2. These checks are redeemable with
participating vendors at farmers markets across New York State for fresh produce and other fresh food products. Fresh Connect Checks are available at every New York State Division of Veterans’ Affairs office, and can be distributed only by Division of Veterans’ Affairs employees. Individuals interested in a Division of Veterans’ Affairs Veterans Benefits Advisor attending an event with Fresh Connect Checks to distribute are strongly encouraged to contact the Division at (518) 474-6114.

Veteran Suicides – Good News?

The Department of Veteran Affairs recently issued a report say-ing that on average, 20 Veterans a day took their own lives. This number is down slightly from the previously used number of 22. Officials however are wary of saying the problem of Veteran sui-cide is getting better.
It seems that using a better method of collecting and ana-lyzing the data is giving a clearer picture of the problem. The do not want to make com-parisons to past studies and point out that 20 is not a good number even though it is slightly lower than the old esti-mates.
“Twenty a day is not that dif-ferent from 22,” said Dr. David Shulkin, undersecretary for health at the Department of Veterans Affairs . “It is far too high.”
The rate at which Veterans commit suicide is many times higher than among the non-veteran population. The suicide rates for both Veterans and no-veterans continue to grow but the rates are grow-ing faster among the Veterans. This is especially true among the female Veterans.
The attention on veteran suicide comes at a time when the VA has reported a huge upswing in Veterans seeking medical care as they have returned from the current conflicts However, the VA data continues to show that older Veterans make up most suicides. About two-thirds of all veterans who died by suicide were age 50 and over.
We need to get these numbers down. If you are feeling pressures you can’t handle, reach out. If you are worried about someone else, reach out. One Veteran suicide a day is too many.
It takes the courage and strength of a warrior to ask for help…

If you are a Veteran who is in crisis or know a Veteran who is in crisis call the Veterans Crisis Line
1-800-273-TALK (8255) and Press 1 for Veterans
If you are not in crisis but need some support the PFC Joseph P. Dwyer Vet 2 Vet Program of Putnam County is just a phone call away. This is a peer support group of Veterans helping Veterans. Call them at 845-278-VETS (8387).
(If you would like one of the pins pictured above stop by our office. We have a limited supply available.)

safeTALK is a half-day alertness training that prepares anyone over the age of 15, regardless of prior experience or training, to become a suicide-alert helper. Most people with thoughts of suicide don’t truly want to die, but are struggling with the pain in their lives. Through their words and actions, they invite help to stay alive. safeTALK-trained helpers can recognize these invitations and take action by connecting them with life-saving intervention resources, such as caregivers trained in ASIST.
Since its development in 2006, safeTALK has been used in over 20 countries around the world, and more than 200 selectable video vignettes have been produced to tailor the program’s audio-visual component for diverse audienc-es. safeTALK-trained helpers are an important part of suicide-safer communi-ties, working alongside intervention resources to identify and avert suicide risks.

Training features:

  • Presentations and guidance from a LivingWorks registered trainer
  • Access to support from a local community resource person
  • Powerful audiovisual learning aids
  • The simple yet effective TALK steps: Tell, Ask, Listen, and KeepSafe
  • Hands-on skills practice and development

Art, Brennan and Karl are all safeTalk Trainers.
(We encourage you or you organization to contact us to set up a training. We have trained people in the American Legion in Patterson, Arms Acers and at the Putnam Hospital under the auspices of the Putnam County Suicide Task Force. Please set up a training, there is no cost.)

Dying Veteran Emotional Last Request

Dying Veteran Emotional Last Request

By Steve Goetsch, Public Affairs Specialist, South Texas Veterans Health Care System, San Antonio

Like many other young men in the late 1960s, Roberto Gonzalez answered when Uncle Sam called. He was drafted by the Army for service in June of 1969, a week after finishing school. Gonzalez, from South Texas, found himself going to Army basic training instead of working on the family ranch and going to summer grad-uation parties. Gonzalez was a member of the 25th Infantry, and on one mission, was selected to be on point during a patrol. What he didn’t know was they were walking into an am-bush of North Vietnamese soldiers lying in wait. They sprung up from a trench, firing on the 14-man squad. With Gonza-lez on point, he took the brunt of fire, being hit three times: through both lungs, a bullet hitting and shattering his leg be-low the knee, and the last striking his abdomen, fragmenting and hitting his spine, creating the shrapnel that led to his paralysis. He described his wounds with much less bravado and even a little sense of humor. “I had three shots with an AK-47 and had a thousand little ones,” Gon-zalez said. “I had holes all over my body, but I made it,” he said, grinning while describing the horrendous attack. The fighting was so intense, they transported him a few miles away to a landing zone (LZ) to be med-evac’d. Although the chopper was finally cleared to land, Gonzalez wasn’t in the clear yet. “Every time the chopper lifted off, my blood pressure dropped rapidly,” Gonzalez explained. He said they did this numerous times before they flew him out of the hot zone. Out of his original 14-man squad, Gonzalez was one of only three that had survived. The fellow soldiers he left behind left an imprint on his memory, even 45 years after he returned home, making his face sullen as he described the experience. “I saw a lot of bad things over there,” he murmured. “I saw a lot of dead people.”
Gonzalez finally came back to the U.S. in 1970, spending the remainder of the year rehabilitating until he could be safely moved. Along the way, he made stops at hospitals in Saigon and Japan, before ending up in Memphis, Tenn. at a specialized VA hospital for para-plegics. He rehabilitated for 18 months until he final
got back to Premont, Tex.

He needed continuous care, and the only avail-ability was a hospital in Houston and returns to Mem-phis for his specialty care. All of that changed when Gonzalez could be seen at the newly-established Audie L. Murphy Memorial Veterans Hospital that was dedi-cated in November 1973. The new hospital was more convenient for him and he became one of its very first patients.
Besides being hospitalized in 1975 for kidney issues, Rosario said Gonzalez was rather healthy, work-ing the 20,000 acre ranch near Premont that has been in the family since the late 1800’s.
When Gonzalez fell ill again in 2015, they transported him to a hospital in Corpus Christi, but were delighted the stay was temporary, and that they would be returning to Audie Murphy. “There are some really good nurses in this ward,” Ro-sario said of the spinal cord unit. Gonzalez added that he wouldn’t want to go anywhere else. Rosario thinks the specialized training the spinal cord staff receives makes the difference. In the fall of 2015, after a couple months at Audie, the Gonzalez family held a special birthday party for Gonzalez and his younger brother George, who shares the same birthday. They brought enough food and drink to supply a small army because they included the staff and inpatients on the ward they consider part of their family. “We’ve met so many great families from guys that have been hurt with spinal cord injuries,” Rosario said. Rosario herself was a fixture on the ward, staying nearby at the South Texas VA Fisher House by the campus. His moth-er, Elodia, who might have been responsi-ble for her son’s resiliency, came up fre-quently, despite being three hours from the hospital. “His mom is 92 years old,” Ro-sario exclaimed. “She is a feisty lady, and she is something else.” Does resilience come with spend-ing four decades in a wheelchair, refusing to give up, or is it bolstered by the 10 sup-portive siblings that help with the ranch and who drove from all over south Texas in inclement weather to celebrate their broth-ers’ birthdays? Whatever the case may be, one of the things that kept Gonzalez going were his horses.

Despite becoming fixtures at the hospital, and lauding the care they received there, there was only one place Gonzalez wanted to be…back on the ranch, with his horses. His face lit up when he talked about them. From traveling through several states to show and sell racehorses, to theshort-legged cows he raised and at-tempted to describe to a naïve city slicker. He missed his ranch and get-ting into his “big truck” every morn-ing and doing what he did for dec-ades, with his father and grandfather by his side. The Gonzalez family was holding down the ranch, awaiting his return. “They keep us informed,” Rosario said, speaking of the many nieces and nephews that stepped up in Gonzalez’s absence. This most recent visit to Audie was taking a toll on Gonza-lez. He was tired. It was a different Gonzalez than Rosario was used to. “He was very independent, it’s just recently that his body has worn down,” Rosario said. “He used to transfer on his own; he just started needing help.” Gonzalez experienced some complications and began losing his battle. He had liver prob-lems, and his kidneys began to shut down. The time came when the staff began to prepare the family. If Gonzalez couldn’t get to the ranch, the Gonzalez family wanted to bring the ranch to him. There were two horses that were favorites of Gonza-lez: Sugar and Ringo, but bringing them into a hospital would take some planning.

Dr. Seth Chandler, chief of Audie’s Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) unit, with Nurse Manager Louis Nwo-jo and their team, consulted with the family and worked out the logistics. With safety being paramount, the decision to facilitate the visit was granted. Nwojo said the team did a safety check of all medical devices, and brought the bed out to the parking lot and the two waiting equine friends to say goodbye. Surrounded by Rosario and his family, the horses gently greeted Gonzalez in a quiet, somber gather-ing. He passed away May 23, just two days later. Gonzalez leaves quite a legacy; Vietnam Veteran, Silver and Bronze Star and Purple Heart recipi-ent, faithful husband of 40 years, the only Texas paraplegic horse trainer, Veteran of the Month and patriarch of one of the biggest, most supportive families you could ever meet…Roberto Gonzalez was not a casualty of war. Rest in peace, Roberto, and
thank you for your service.

Meet the Bozanic Family

Summer memories are special. Most of us should remember school assignments where we had to write about our summer vacation. Some of us took trips to exotic places, some stayed at home enjoying the local scene and actually some of us worked the entire summer. There is not one of us that could not narrate a unique memorable event that happened some summer long ago or a more recent summer event. All those memories are the fabric of American society.

If you will indulge me I am going to relate a very recent summer experience that might not be the type of summer memory that you might have tucked away in your mind.
To set the scene my wife Irene welcomed our three grandsons from Buffalo to spend a week with us each summer. A much needed visit for us and a respite for the parents of 10 year old twin boys and their 5 year old brother. We also include our 7 year old granddaughter and her 5 year old brother on the various scheduled events, Two days at beautiful Putnam County Veterans Memorial Park were on the list of things to do. Bike and scooter riding and 2 trips to Kent Recycling were also weaved into the daily to do list. The movie “The BFG” was part of the busy week. (I highly recommend that movie).

By the end of the week we packed the 3 Buffalo boys up and waved good bye to their cousins and began our (sorry about this) “shuffle to off to Buffalo. It was a slow shuffle. With stops at Howe Caverns, watching fireworks from the lawn of our motel in Cobleskill , bowling a few frames, mining for Herkimer Diamonds and several hours in motel pools. A well rounded and busy shuffle.

Why the long tedious diary of two Grandparents? Well the experience happened during the shuffle but I wanted to brag a bit about what we did with our grandchildren prior to my summer experience that I wish to relate. The experience happened at 7:00 AM at the Inn at Cobleskill while I was waiting for the boys to wake up to continue the shuffle. I was reading an article in a local newspaper the “Daily Star” of Oneonta. It was in the Lifestyle Section that I met the Bozanic clan.
In a time period where people need safe spaces, where college students claim undue stress because the name of a person running for president is scrawled on the sidewalk where every one receives a trophy it is time to “Meet the Bozanic Family”.

The parents John from Croatia and Marta from the Czech Republic were married in 1921. In 1933 they bought a farm in Worchester, NY and moved there with their 5 children. By 1942 there were 11 children but a major trauma to the family occurred with the birth of the 12th child. Marta was in distress with the birth of number 12. While they tried to walk the 3 miles to the doctors in a blizzard they were forced to turn back to the farm where she gave birth but passed away 2 days later. John was determined to raise his children and did so. Each daughter remembers being coming the mother figure after the oldest daughter moved out. They had no running water or electricity. To bathe they filled up a big washtub and the oldest to youngest took turns bathing.

Ten years later another disaster struck the Bozanics. A tractor turned over on top of the father and crushed him to death. They were now without parents. Six were still living at home. An older sister and her husband became legal guardians and a 19 year old brother remained on the farm to help run what had transitioned from a dairy farm to a
cauliflower farm. They remained together and worked together. School was their respite from the toils and tribulations of their everyday life.
They remember the hard work and hard times, they remember that one of the
bonuses of school were real toilets but they also remember there was no whining. Now where does this lead us? To the Bozanics as adults. All 12 graduated from High School. Many went into the military. All weresuccessful.

Nick-got a chance to play for the NY baseball Giants and went on to manage a farm, Zita –was the 1st woman radio operator at La Guardia Airport, John worked on Apollo 13 as an electrical engi-neer, Mary-wrote and composed songs, Anne and Emily-became accomplished musicians, George-became a school teacher, Jean-ette-toured the country with the Air Force Band and earned a PhD from UCLA, Vera -joined the Air Force, Helen –is a Justice of the Peace, Don-worked for Westinghouse and holds many pa-tents in electron spin echo frequency, Larry worked for Ford and helped open Ford’s China facility.

Only six survive today but brother Donald offers this sage advice to the youth of today: “look around and see what you can do to improve the world…don’t just think about what you can do to make yourself feel better”.

Sage advise indeed to all of those cowering in their safe spaces.




“The Row of Honor is a beautiful way to show gratitude to the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our safety and freedom,” says Putnam County Executive, MaryEllen Odell, “This biannual tradition means so much to both veterans who have risked their lives for their country, and the families who have lost their loved ones.”

A flag can be sponsored for $100 dollars in the name of a loved one lost in the service of our country. All proceeds are given directly to VET2VET, a program that helps veterans suffering from PTSD, depression, and other difficulties, reintegrate into society.

Flags can be ordered at (845) 808-1620 or at https://www.putnamcountyny.com/roh/  . Checks are payable to:

Joint Veterans Council c/o PC Veterans Affairs

Donald B. Smith Government Campus

110 Old Route 6 Bldg. 3 Carmel, NY 10512

Seventy Veterans and Residents Attend Row of Honor Kick-Off on Armed Forces Day

CARMEL, N.Y. – Armed Forces Day, a national commemoration of Americans serving in the five U.S. military branches, marked the kick off of Putnam County’s annual Row of Honor season at the Carmel VFW Hall, located on Route 52 in Carmel, N.Y. Preceded by a pancake breakfast organized by the Putnam County Joint Veterans Council and sponsored by Kevin Byrne, the event drew 70 veterans and residents to remember the men and women who lost their lives in service to the United States. 

“The Row of Honor tradition that has been established in our county means so much to our vets and to the families who have lost loved ones in service to our country,” said Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell. “We are so grateful for the freedom and safety that our military protects every single day. These flags, emblazoned with the names of many of those brave men and women, honor their sacrifice.”

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 Veterans Peer-to-Peer projects, which assist vets who are suffering from isolation, depression, PTSD and other issues associated with the readjustment to civilian life.

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.

Good Day Hudson Valley interviews Karl Rohde, Director of Veterans Services and John Bourges, program coordinator, Dwyer Vet2Vet program led by Putnam MHA.

Good Day Hudson Valley interviews Karl Rohde, Director of Veterans Services and John Bourges, program coordinator, Dwyer Vet2Vet program led by Putnam MHA.

Memorial Day Events & Festivities Around Putnam County

Friday , Saturday , Sunday, May 27,28,29, 2016

Putnam County Joint Veterans Council-
John Morris Memorial Watchfire Vigil, each night
6 PM-6AM May 27,28,29 Opening Ceremony Friday the 27th at 7:00 PM
Flag Retirement through out the Vigil.

Sunday May 29, 20156

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

Monday May 30, 2016:

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 Mangero Park

VFW Post 672, Brewster-
Parade from Brewster Fire House to Electrozone Field
(step off 11:00 AM)
Ceremony at Electrozone Field following parade.
Light Lunch to follow at post home on Peaceable Hill Road
VFW Post 2362 and American Legion Post 275 Cold Spring-
Village Hall at 85 Main Street for a Ceremony.

VFW Post & Ladies 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
Ceremony and Refreshments to follow at VFW Post home
154 East Lake Blvd

VFW Post 9257& Ladies Auxiliary & AMVET Post 1111
Putnam Lake-
Parade from Castle Restaurant to Veterans Monument on Haviland Road (step off 10:00 AM)
Ceremony to follow parade at monument
Refreshments to follow at Post Home at 4 Fairfield Drive

VFW Post 8013, Somers-
Annual Memorial Day Parade and Remembrance Ceremony. Step off 10:00 AM from Somers Middle School to Ivandell Cem-etery.
( Somers has been added to the list of Memorial Day events because the Somers VFW has recently joined Putnam County Council VFW)
American Legion Post 1542, Patterson-
10:00 AM walk from Post home to monument on Rt. 311 for ceremony
Refreshments to follow at Post Home.

Saturday day May 30, 2015:

Putnam County Joint Veterans Council-
Sunrise Memorial Day Prayer Service at close of Vigil.