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Committee named to oversee creation of New York's first State Veterans Cemetery

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the members of the committee that will oversee plans to create the first New York State Veterans Cemetery that will provide dignified burial options for the state's veterans and their eligible family members. The committee will be chaired by Ret. U.S. Army Colonel Jim McDonough, Director of the NYS Division of Veterans' Services, and oversee the site selection process for the State Veterans Cemetery, creating an action plan outlining ongoing governance, compliance and cemetery operations at the planned burial grounds.
  
"It is long past time for New York to have its first State Veterans Cemetery. This expert panel of leaders will create the blueprint for this important site of remembrance," Governor Cuomo said. "It is our obligation to ensure that the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect this great nation are honored with a dignified place to rest alongside their fellow service members in New York."
 
The full committee membership includes:
  • Major General Raymond F. Shields, Jr., Commissioner, New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs
  • RoAnn Destito, Commissioner, New York State Office of General Services
  • Rossana Rosado, New York Secretary of State and Chair of the Cemetery Board of the Department of State
  • Erik Kulleseid, Commissioner, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
 
New York is one of only a few states nationwide that does not have a State Veterans Cemetery. More than 70 percent of New York State's approximately 681,000 veterans are over the age of 55, and many veterans and their families have advocated for years to have an appropriate state resting place to visit and honor their sacrifice. But an antiquated law required that the state must first set aside 15 years' worth of perpetual care costs prior to moving forward with the site selection process. On the 100th anniversary of Veterans Day and as part of his 2020 Executive Budget, Governor Cuomo introduced legislation amending the law to remove the onerous 15-year funding requirement and streamlining the process for establishing the creation of a state cemetery.
 
Director of New York State's Division of Veterans' Services Ret. Colonel Jim McDonough said, "The responsibilities associated with establishing the state's first-ever State Veterans Cemetery speak to the need to be collaborative not only across state government, but with our partners locally as well. We owe our veteran families nothing less than our best efforts to ensure that additional dignified burial options for New York's veterans become a reality this year. I thank Governor Cuomo for his leadership and his commitment to ensuring that we continue to provide the utmost care for New York's veterans and their families."

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