Joe Robach and Local Veterans Honor Memorial Day

Memorial Day marks a time of remembering the brave men and women who have served our country and protected our rights as American Citizens. This Memorial Day weekend, Senator Joe Robach had the honor of attending a number of events around the community to demonstrate my appreciation for all that these courageous veterans have done and continue to do for us every day.

Senator Robach spent the holiday at events around the area such as those at the Town of Gates, Town of Parma, United States Post Office headquarters in Henrietta and Greece Olympia High School. He met with local heroes who served in the past and are here to share their valiant stories today as well as paying tribute to those who have fallen to insure the life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for us all.

At each event he made sure to let them know how proud he way to have been given the opportunity to speak at some these events and share my appreciation for the veterans and soldiers fighting to protect our rights. As a State Senator, it is extremely gratifying to see the community come together to celebrate this holiday. Although the recent weather has been uncharacteristic of the summer season, the sun seemed to shine a little brighter on Monday in honor of such a special occasion.

He felt blessed to have been given such a beautiful day to honor such extraordinary individuals in our community and throughout the country and could not have asked for a better way to honor the brave men and women who have fought and continue to fight for our freedom.


State Senator Joe Robach announces the induction of Ray Melens, an active member in the Rochester veteran community, to the New York State Senate Veterans Hall of Fame on Tuesday May 21st. This honor is designed to pay tribute to New Yorkers whose gallantry in the U.S. Armed Forces is complimented by their service to the community and their accomplishments as a civilian.

“The New York State Senate Veteran’s Hall of Fame gives special recognition to distinguished individuals as a way to express our deep gratitude and admiration” says Senator Robach. “Ray has dedicated his life to serving this nation and his counterparts and he is most deserving of this great honor.”

Melens enlisted in the United States Marine Corps after graduating from Greece Arcadia High School in 1968 and was sent to serve in South Vietnam. For his outstanding service while enlisted, he has earned numerous medals and honors which include:  the National Defense Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Unit citations and the New York State Medal for Merit.

After his service, Melens devoted his time to helping and honoring his fellow veterans. He is the Chairperson of Vietnam Veterans of America and was elected to be part of the Rochester Chapter’s Board of Directors. Also, as a Marching Unit Commander, Melens formed an Honor Guard for funerals and for various ceremonies. This effort has become nationally recognized. In addition to these many duties, Melens spends much of his spare time giving tours and helping with the upkeep of the Greater Rochester Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Melens will be inducted into the New York State Veteran’s Hall of Fame during a ceremony on Tuesday May, 21, 2013 at 11:00 a.m. in the Legislative Office Building. Each honoree’s photograph and biography will become part of a special on-line exhibit proclaiming the contributions of these exemplary New York Veterans.

For more information about this or any other veterans initiative, contact the office of Joe Robach.



Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has directed that flags on state government buildings be flown at half-staff Thursday, May 9t, 2013 in honor of a Warwick Marine who died in Farah Province, Afghanistan on May 4, 2013. Staff Sgt. Eric D. Christian died while conducting combat operations. He was assigned to the 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalion based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

“I join with all New Yorkers in mourning the loss of Staff Sgt. Christian,” Governor Cuomo said. “I extend my deepest sympathy to his family, his friends and his fellow Marines. We will honor his service and sacrifice and his dedication to our nation.”

Governor Cuomo has directed that the flags on all state buildings be lowered to half-staff in honor of and in tribute to our state’s service members and those stationed in New York who are killed in action or die in a combat zone.

For more information about this or other veterans issues, contact the office of Joe Robach.

Senator Robach Supports CompeerCORPS for Veterans

Senator Joe Robach is proud to support the group CompeerCORPS, which is a veteran peer mentoring program for veterans that was launched in 2011.

The purpose of the program is to create a supportive network for all veterans who could benefit from a peer mentor and other community relationships. Participation in CompeerCORPS increases positive social connections for returning veterans and their families which helps to reduce suicidal idealization and its associated co-morbidity. It also encourages successful reintegration to civilian life; access to needed benefits; increased employment and housing stability, the program is designed to breakdown the stigma experienced by members of the military around mental illness by matching a veteran with another veteran.

CompeerCORPS serves veterans in over 20 New York State Counties. Program surveys show that veteran focus programs produce positive outcomes, including improved resistance to drugs and alcohol, decreased use of hospital or crisis services, and increased community engagement.

CompeerCorps has assisted military veterans from all combat and peacetime eras. One client and one volunteer spend at least four hours a month together. Through this program, a veteran who has successfully navigated the transition to civilian life can assist another who is struggling with reintegration. “They understand because they’ve been there.

Presently our veterans are combating Mental and Behavioral Health Issues in the following areas:

-Substance Abuse
-Post Traumatic Stress Disorder[PTSD]
-Military Sexual Trauma [MST}
-Traumatic Brain Injury [TBI]

For more information on these services, please contact or by phone at 546-8280.


Joe Robach would like veteran to know the New York State Vietnam Memorial Gallery in the Robert Abrams Building for Law and Justice has been re-opened. The gallery, which has been closed since 2009, is being opened in conjunction with the state’s partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense’s commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the United States’ military involvement in Vietnam. The exhibition is titled “Welcome Home, The 50-Year Commemoration of the Vietnam War, 1962-1975.” The gallery will be open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays and is free to the public.

Joe Robach said “The reopening the New York State Vietnam Memorial Gallery is a way to thank the veterans, many of which were from Rochester, who served our nation in Vietnam, as well as honor the memory of those who lost their lives.”
Representatives from state, federal, and local veterans’ groups were on hand for the reopening ceremony.

The New York State Vietnam Memorial honors the military service of New York State residents who served their country in Southeast Asia. The memorial was created by legislation in 1981 and was officially dedicated on May 26, 1984 by Governor Mario Cuomo and was one of the first such state efforts in the nation. The memorial includes a courtyard with a state honor roll on four bronze panels and an exhibition gallery.

It was created to be a “living memorial” with an exhibition gallery and resource center designed “to foster increased public understanding and discussion of the Vietnam War and its aftermath.” Its mandate was to present changing exhibitions, educational programs, special events, and interaction with other agencies and veterans’ organizations.
Items that will be on display include:

•A U.S. Navy pea coat and cap worn by Robert Wurster of Rensselaer while serving as a signalman aboard the USS Beatty and the USS Little Rock from 1967 to 1973. (Property of the New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs, New York State Military Museum.)

•A limited edition, signed reproduction print of the 2002 painting “Night Vision” by artist Jamie Wyeth, son of artist Andrew Wyeth and grandson of illustrator N.C. Wyeth. “Night Vision” was painted by Wyeth while wearing night vision goggles akin to those worn by soldiers in the Vietnam War. The intense greens and yellows produced by the goggles provide a dramatic backdrop for the image of a soldier. The painting was done in 2002 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.

•An M1 helmet that was being worn by Capt. Dennis Finnegan of Lynbrook, Long Island when it was pierced by a bullet during combat on May 10, 1967. Finnegan served three tours of duty with the 101st Airborne Division before he was killed in a helicopter crash in 1972. (Property of the New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs, New York State Military Museum.)

•“P38” can opener, nicknamed “P38’ because it supposedly took 38 punctures to open one can. These handy devices were included in cases of rations. Soldiers sometimes attached them to their dog tag chains.

The United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration Partner Program to honor Vietnam veterans and their families will last for 13 years, recognizing the country’s involvement in the conflict in Vietnam from 1962 when American forces first engaged in major combat to 1975 when the last American soldier left. Throughout the 13-year period New York State will pay tribute to its veterans by educating the public about the life of an American solider serving in Vietnam through a display of Vietnam War era artifacts in the gallery.

For more information about this or other veterans initiatives, contact the office of Joe Robach.

Joe Robach is Helping Our Heros

Senator Joe Robach recently voted in support of “Hire-A-Vet” plan and helped pass it into law.  He believes that when New York’s heroic servicemen and women return home, they should be welcomed with the promise of economic opportunity.

That is why Senator Robach supported the Blueprint for Jobs plan that included a new tax credit for businesses that hire veterans returning home from active duty military service.  That credit would equal ten percent of wages paid, increasing to fifteen percent of wages if the veteran is also disabled.

Through Senator Robach’s efforts this important measure was passed into law as part of the new 2013-2014 State Budget. After they have sacrificed so much to serve our nation, our veterans deserve the opportunity to secure good paying jobs.

Senator Robach is also a long time supporter of Honor Flight Rochester, a group that takes World War II and Korean War veterans to visit war memorials in our nations capital.


Joe Robach would like to help Honor Flight find Korean War veterans to honor.  Honor Flight is free to all WWII and Korean veterans and to veterans from any era who suffer a terminal illness. Their goal is to take every veteran who otherwise would not or could not go, and who wants to fly.  Veterans typically fly in the order their applications are received. Medical priorities are the exception.  The flying season is April to November. With hundreds of local veterans currently in line, Applications are now being accepted the Fall of 2012. The sooner Veterans apply, the sooner they fly. Joe Robach has been a proud supporter of Honor Flight, for the work they do on behalf of veterans, since its inception.

If you know a relative, friend, or neighbor who is a Korean War or World War II veteran, you can help give him or her a unique and much-deserved honor – a free trip to our nation’s capital to visit their War Memorial courtesy of Honor Flight Rochester. For details and to submit an application by visiting the Honor Flight Rochester website.  For more information about this or any other veterans initiative, contact the office of Joe Robach.

Joe Robach announces Governors new veterans appointment

Joe Robach announced today that Governor Cuomo has appointed a new person to fill the NYS veterans affairs department.

“Colonel Hesse has a long and distinguished record as an Army leader dedicated to improving the readiness of our military and serving our nation both overseas and here in New York State,” Cuomo said. “As director of New York State’s Division of Veterans’ Affairs, he will continue his distinguished career of service by helping lead our state’s efforts to ensure New York’s veterans are receiving the support that they need.”

Hesse said: “I am honored to join Governor Cuomo’s administration and help guide the state’s efforts to ensure that New York takes care of veterans and provides our returning military service members with the support and benefits that they deserve. Since taking office, the Governor has worked to make New York State friendlier for veterans, including returning service members as they transition into civilian life and seek employment opportunities here in our state. I look forward to working in this administration on behalf of all our veterans.”

Colonel Hesse retired from the Army last week after more than 26 years of service that included deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo. Since July 2009, Colonel Hesse served as Command Inspector General of the New York Army and Air National Guard in Latham, New York where he was responsible for ensuring the readiness of an 18,000-member organization dispersed across New York State.

His efforts focused on professional development and education programs as well as implementing a statewide inspection oversight effort aimed at improving military readiness. Colonel Hesse previously served as Command Inspector General of the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum (New York) where his duties included the readiness of 10,000 soldiers at Fort Drum and Fort Polk (Louisiana) and providing support to a community of retired military personnel and their families.

For more information on veterans issues contact the office of Joe Robach.


Joe Robach supports a variety of jobs programs for veterans in Rochester.

The first is at RochesterWorks! They work specifically with veterans on job readiness training as they search for employment. RochesterWorks! also works with other agencies across our area make referrals to other agencies through the employment process.  For more information on this veterans job readiness program, contact RochesterWorks! Or the office of Joe Robach. The other agency that assists veterans find employment is the Veterans Outreach Center where Joe Robach has been alongtime supporter. The staff at the center, which has received recognition from the White House, last year placed three out of every four veterans into meaningful employment.

Joe Robach knows veterans are critical to the workforce because they bring leadership qualities and are able to adapt to different environments.  For more information on other jobs programs or veterans issues, contact the office of Joe Robach.


State Senator Joe Robach invites local residents to nominate veterans from their community whose service on behalf of our nation designates them worthy of induction into the New York State Veterans’ Hall of Fame.
“The New York State Senate Veterans’ Hall of Fame was created to honor and recognize outstanding veterans from the Empire State who have distinguished themselves both in military and civilian life,” said Senator Joe Robach.  “Their meritorious service to our nation deserves the special recognition that only a hall of fame can provide, as a fitting expression of our gratitude and admiration.”

This on-line hall of fame is designed to pay tribute to New Yorkers whose gallantry in the U.S. Armed Forces is complemented by their service to the community.

The Senate will honor a distinguished veteran from our area and throughout the state at a May 21st  Albany ceremony, where each honoree’s photograph and biography will become part of a special on-line exhibit proclaiming the contributions of these exemplary New York veterans.

Nomination forms can be requested by calling Senator Joe Robach’s office at 225-3650.  Completed forms can  be mailed to:

Senator Joe Robach
 2300 West Ridge Road
 Rochester, NY 14626