01/28/15 12:00pm
01/28/2015 12:00 PM
Ethan Sisson, a junior at Southold High School, demonstrates with other students from Project Bus Stop earlier this month. One proposed bus shelter would be built at the intersection where the students demonstrated. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Ethan Sisson, a junior at Southold High School, demonstrates with other students from Project Bus Stop earlier this month. One proposed bus shelter would be built at the intersection where the students demonstrated. (Credit: Paul Squire)

This month, Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski’s office submitted a request to build six new bus shelters in the county, including two by Calverton National Cemetery.

He has said Suffolk County stands at the ready to fund such shelter requests. (more…)

05/26/14 3:33pm
05/26/2014 3:33 PM

This woman was not alone as thousands flocked to Calverton National Cemetery on Memorial Day. (Credit: Grant Parpan)

The more than 242,000 interments over the past 36 years at Calverton National Cemetery are the biggest reason so many Long Islanders spend their Memorial Day in Riverhead Town. (more…)

11/11/13 5:10pm
11/11/2013 5:10 PM
JOSEPH PINCIARO PHOTO | A member of the Riverhead VFW salutes the flag on Monday.

JOSEPH PINCIARO PHOTO | A member of the Riverhead VFW salutes the flag on Monday.

A few hundred people came out to Calverton National Cemetery on a sunny Monday afternoon for the annual Veterans Day ceremony.

The ceremony was nearly derailed this year due to a federal government shutdown, master of ceremonies Dennis Krulder said, though it went on as scheduled at the nation’s largest national cemetery, spanning over 1,000 acres.

Guest speakers included Representative Tim Bishop (D-Southampton), Riverhead Councilman John Dunleavy, and Joe Sledge, public affairs officer at the Veterans Affairs Northport Medical Center.

Bishop recognized the Calverton cub scout pack 404 for projects they had done with veterans recently, conducting flag retirement ceremonies on their behalf and adopting some veterans as pen pals.

Sledge, a peacetime veteran himself, pointed to the good deeds done by some of his colleagues in the crowd – acts as simple as driving disabled veterans from place to place, to planting a garden to be able to sit by and enjoy – as evidence of some ways vets are giving back to their own at the VA.

Quoting from “The Prophet,” Sledge ended with the following: “‘Your friend is your needs, answered. He is your field, which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving. And he is your board and your fireside. For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace.’

“Everyone in this area- in this beautiful cemetery right now who served in U.S. armed forces – we thank you. We thank you for being our board and our fireside. We thank for your feeding us when we came to you hungry. And we think you most importantly for peace.”

Click through for some photos from Monday’s ceremony below. If you attended, feel free to add in your own.

10/15/13 7:00am
10/15/2013 7:00 AM
JOHN NEEELY FILE PHOTO | Calverton National Cemetery.

JOHN NEEELY FILE PHOTO | Calverton National Cemetery.

While large portions of the federal government remain ground to a halt as federal lawmakers stand across the bargaining table from one another, Calverton National Cemetery has been unaffected since the day the so-called “shutdown” began Oct. 1.

But sometime next week, that could change.

If no deal is reached in Washington, D.C., two-thirds of the staff at Calverton National Cemetery, the country’s largest burial ground for veterans, will be furloughed Oct. 22. In that event, the cemetery’s work force would drop from 100 to just over  30, resulting in delayed interments.

While veterans affairs could be considered a nonpartisan issue — especially compared to Obamacare, the issue at the heart of the shutdown — Congressman Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) said last week that he doesn’t see the logic in passing legislation that would  before a final deal is made.

“There have been a series of bills Republicans have brought to the floor to reopen a slice of the government,” he said in a conference call Friday with members of the media. “What we say is, ‘Let’s reopen all of the government.’

“Should we allow burials to slow down at Calverton? Of course not. But the answer should be to reopen the entire government. Not pick and choose which parts we want to,” Mr. Bishop said.

The cemetery is funded through the National Cemetery Association, which falls under the purview of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The department is funded in two-year cycles — unlike most departments, which are funded year-by-year — so operations at Calverton, and much of the VA, have so far not been impacted by the impasse to the same degree as the rest of the federal government.

The Calverton cemetery conducts approximately 30 to 40 burials per day on its 1,045 acres, about 800 of which need to be maintained on a regular basis.

Kristen Parker, a spokesperson for the NCA, said that in the event that the shutdown hits national cemeteries, the government would “do whatever it can not to delay a burial. And it would likely be a day or two. Not weeks.”

Funeral homes would be responsible for holding the bodies of deceased veterans while they await their final resting place, according to Parker. In addition, she said, relatives of those who died would still be cared for during any delay in the process.

But many veterans have already had enough. Just after the shutdown hit, a group of vets arrived in Washington to find that they had to remove barricades at the World War II memorial, which had been shut down. And last weekend, Reuters reported that veterans groups took it one step further, removing the barricades and placing them on the lawn of the White House.

“I don’t even know if the government would feel bad [if burials were delayed],” said Frank Bania, who runs Boots on the Ground NY, a veterans group that organizes PTSD support groups, motorcycle cavalcades and other efforts to help veterans.

The former commander of Riverhead VFW Post 2476, Joe Edler, said, “I have a funny feeling this should be settled fast, or else I think they’re going to hurt a lot of veterans.”

If no deal is reached by the end of the month, Mr. Bishop said, the country may not be able to pay out $12 billion in active duty and veterans benefits.

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10/04/13 4:02pm


Four days after political gridlock in Washington shut down large swaths of the federal government, it remains unclear what the effects have been — or could be — on the local level, largely because it remains to be seen how long the game of political chicken will last.

Larger projects such as the Mattituck Inlet dredging and beach replenishment, which is in its formative stages but faces a Jan. 15 deadline to be finished, could be facing delays as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been dealing with worker furloughs.

And for some small businesses such as the fledgling Moustache Brewing Co. in Riverhead, efforts to cut through red tape to seek federal label approvals could prove to be an even more time consuming process than usual, as the U.S. Alcohol, Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau permit processors can’t work.

Others – such as Calverton National Cemetery and Brookhaven National Lab – have a couple weeks before funding sources start drying up, officials said.

“At this time, we are open for business, unrestricted,” said Mike Picerno, director of Calverton National Cemetery.

But on Oct. 15 – when a large portion of the cemetery’s funding dries up – Congressman Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) said that two-thirds of the staff is set to be cut, leaving about 30 of the cemetery’s 100 employees on the job. The result will be delayed burials for veterans, leaving maintenance work at the hallowed grounds an afterthought.

Lauri Spitz of Moustache Brewing Co. said she and her husband are in the process of opening up the Riverhead brewery, but before they can sell any beer they need to get label approval for their keg collars from the U.S. Alcohol, Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. But even applying for the labels online is impossible amid the shutdown. Instead, Ms. Spitz will have to go the old fashioned route, filling out the applications with pen and paper.

“If this ends up going on, I’d guess the processing of new applications will be a back burner kind of thing,” she said.

Anthony Nappa finds himself in the same boat.

Mr. Nappa, winemaker at Raphael and Anthony Nappa Wines, both in Peconic, said he submitted three labels for approval to the TTB about a month ago. Even when the government is functioning normally, he said, the process usually takes between one and two months.

“The system takes a long time regardless, so this doesn’t help,” Mr. Nappa said. “Until they open up again it might get even more backlogged.”

Macari Vineyards ended up being a little more lucky, hearing from the TTB on Sept. 30, exactly one day before the government shut down.

Beyond the beverage industry, Mr. Bishop  said on Friday that his office had not yet even received confirmation from the Department of Homeland Security about furloughs at Plum Island, which employs about 400 people. But Homeland Security’s science and technology directorate, which administers the island, has seen 630 of its 650 employees furloughed.

So a skeleton staff is only likely to be in place, Mr. Bishop said.

Joe Gergela, executive director with the Long Island Farm Bureau, said a handful of farmers whose farms were badly damaged during Superstorm Sandy, were working with the National Resources Defense Council – which operates under the United States Department of Agriculture – to engineer fixes to prevent future damage. Gergela said it’s “uncertain if the engineers or the people with jurisdiction over that are going to be on the job.”

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12/12/12 11:30am
12/12/2012 11:30 AM

JOHN MOORE/GETTY IMAGES | A U.S. Navy honor guard salutes over the casket of Navy veteran David Maxwell, 66, before his burial at Calverton National Cemetery Monday.

More than one month after he was found drowned in his Midland Beach home, the last of Staten Island’s victims from Superstorm Sandy was buried at Calverton National Cemetery Monday afternoon.

David Maxwell, 66, a Vietnam veteran was found Nov. 9, 11 days after the storm hit. Neighbors who knocked on his door after the storm passed thought he had evacuated, according to the Staten Island Advance.

He had been living alone after his partner, James McCormick, 72, suffered a recent stroke and was forced to move into a rehabilitation center, the Advance reported.

A Navy veteran, Mr. Maxwell was buried at the national cemetery, accompanied by honor guards from the Catholic War Veterans and the Patriot Guard Riders.

01/08/11 3:56pm
01/08/2011 3:56 PM

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO Twenty homeless vetarans were given a funeral at Calverton National Cemetery Saturday.

Twenty homeless veterans, whose bodies were left unclaimed in morgues around the New York City area, received a burial with full military honors Saturday at Calverton National Cemetery.

Michael Picerno, director at Calverton National Cemetery, said it was the largest collective ceremony of its kind nationwide for veterans left unclaimed after they’ve died.

“For whatever reason, their family and friends did not assist in their burial,” he said. “These veterans served our country and deserve this farewell.”

About 500 people gathered for the service, which included a procession of American flags set up by local fire departments, the folding of the American flag and the playing of “Taps.”

John Caldarelli, of American Legion Post 1244, gave the eulogy and read the names and ranks of the 20 veterans, who all served in the military between the 1940s and 1970s.

“We don’t know their race, political affiliation or their religious views,” he said. “Today, in a brief moment in time, we will be their family. We will be their loved ones.”

The folded flags were given to the American Gold Star Mothers, an organization of mothers whose children died after serving in the military.

Dignity Memorial, a Houston-based company, provided transportation for the services through its Dignity Memorial Homeless Veterans Burial Program. The program started in 2000 and has since provided services more than 850 veterans.

Members of the American Legion, the Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion Riders, Patriot Guard Riders, American Gold Star Mothers, Nam Knights Motorcycle Club, U.S. Veterans Motorcycle Club and Patriot Knights Motorcycle Club, as well as other groups, veterans and local elected officials met to pay their respects.

Ernest Diraffaele, of the VFW Post 395 in Saint James, said he hoped the event would bring more awareness to homeless veterans.

“No veteran should die alone,” he said.

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11/22/10 9:13pm
11/22/2010 9:13 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Once a month, Calverton National Cemetery holds a No One in Attendance or NOA ceremony for service members whose funerals were not attended by either friends or relatives. The ceremonies are held at 10 a.m. on the second Wednesday of each month at the cemetery.

Bob Elrose signed up to serve in the Vietnam War for one reason.

“I’m an American,” the 63-year-old Riverhead resident said, plainly.

It is that same patriotic spirit that has made the former Marine sergeant join a special group of veterans who regularly attend funerals of fellow soldiers buried at Calverton National Cemetery.

Once a month, the cemetery holds a No One in Attendance or NOA ceremony for service members whose funerals were not attended by either friends or relatives. The ceremonies are held at 10 a.m. on the second Wednesday of each month at the cemetery.

“Unlike the reception we [Vietnam veterans] got when we came home, I feel that someone should go to these funerals,” said Mr. Elrose, who is a member of the Vietnam Veterans, Chapter 11 and the Patriot Guard Riders, a motorcycle organization made up mostly of Vietnam veterans that regularly attends ceremonies for U.S. soldiers of any age. “Some of these veterans just outlive their family and friends and there is no one there for them and now there is; we’re now their family, and the group seems to be growing as word gets out.”

Calverton Administrative Supervisor Nanette Furio said the cemetery handles roughly 6,000 – 6,500 burials a year. The overall number of veterans being buried at Calverton has caused the cemetery to increase their land space to accommodate all the burials of soldiers with or without those living to remember them.

The cemetery conducts about 20 NOA services each month, according to Ms. Furio. NOA ceremonies are held in Calverton’s committal area, where funeral services are held for all soldiers of any rank and branch of service.

Roughly 50 people turn out each month for NOA ceremonies, Ms. Furio said. The services consist of a eulogy, the reading of the decedent’s names, ranks and branch of service, guest speakers and the playing of TAPS by a lone bugler.

Each branch of service takes turns attending NOA ceremonies. Members of the Vietnam Patriot Guard and Patriot Guard Riders are also in regular attendance at the ceremonies, which are open to the public.

The idea for the NOA ceremonies came five years ago, when Calverton employees began to notice that some veterans were being buried without a service or even anyone to show up for the burials.

“We began to realize that so many veterans were not receiving military honors at their committal service,” Ms. Furio explained. “That first month in 2005 we had 14 veterans to honor and we’ve had as many as 40 a month. We just want to make sure that every veteran is remembered and that no one is forgotten and we’re really hoping to get the word out there so that more people attend so that each one of them will be given the proper military honors and respect they deserve for serving our country.”

Louis DiLeo is the official bugler for the NOA services. The Seaford resident is Chief Bugler for the New York State Military Officers Honor Guard.

While he feels deeply privileged to play TAPS at the NOA ceremonies, Mr. DiLeo can’t help but feel sad, he said, that the veterans being honored are without close friends and loved ones to share in their remembrance.

“The fact that they did put on the uniform, the fact that they did serve their country, and to go out there and honor these soldiers, sailors, airmen, whoever they are, is a great privilege,” Mr. DiLeo said. “It’s sad that no one they know is there. We don’t know why, nor necessarily do we want to know it, but it is a sad thing, whether they’re indigent or just estranged from their families, whatever the reason, the flag is on their coffin and they deserve that respect from all of us.”