New York State Division of Veterans' Services

A Memorial Day ceremony held at the Sampson Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Seneca County on Monday took on special significance because of action by a state committee last week.

That committee voted to recommend Sampson as New York’s first state veterans’ cemetery.  New York is one of the few states that does not currently have a state veterans’ cemetery.

Joel Evans, acting director for the New York State Division of Veterans’ Services, said the decision is significant.

A new CBS sitcom called “The United States of Al” tells the story of an Afghan interpreter who is reunited with a Marine veteran in the U.S. after escaping the Taliban. It’s a familiar story – and an often long and painful process – for interpreters who come to America on Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) after serving with the U.S. military. Even before it aired, the show’s premise was under fire. Some critics called it racist and a “brown savior project.” Writer and executive producer Reza Aslan responded, “As Brown people in this country, we know better than most, the sensitivity that a lot of people have about the way that Hollywood has represented them….The dream for us has always been to get a Muslim protagonist on network television, someone who could really reframe the perceptions of so many Americans about Muslims or people from this broad region.”

Local SIVs and veterans have watched the show. They join us this hour to discuss its premise, representation on television, and more. Our guests:

Max Schulte | WXXI News

Nearly 50 veterans received their COVID-19 vaccine -- the one-dose Johnson & Johnson shot -- on Monday at the Veterans Outreach Center.

While the pop-up clinic was aimed at reaching veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, not everyone who was vaccinated was homeless.

After getting his shot at the South Avenue center, Samuel Robbins had one question for the nurse: “When can I be around my grandkids?”

75 years ago this month, the Allies celebrated V-E Day. As time marches on, the voices of those who fought in the war or who were part of the war effort on the home front become fewer.

This hour, we hear from two local veterans who share their experiences. Our guests:

  • Jack Foy, machine gunner in the Army 87th Infantry Division, World War II
  • Corporal John Woods, Army Air Corps, World War II

Noelle E. C. Evans | WXXI News

Volunteers of America is announcing more housing opportunities in Rochester for people who are homeless.

The VOA expects seven new supportive housing units at Cooper Union to be ready by 2021. The building, on State Street in downtown Rochester, is currently home to 44 such apartments.

Tenants will receive rental assistance and extensive case management support. Rent will be 30%  of their income. If the tenant does not have any income, rent will be free.

The White House/YouTube

A local World War II veteran says he still can’t believe the recognition he got Monday at the Veterans Day parade in New York City.

That veteran is Jack Foy, a survivor of the Battle of the Bulge, one of the fiercest battles of World War II.

Foy was invited to be on the reviewing standing Monday when President Trump talked made reference to Foy’s service.

“We are proudly joined today by a veteran of the Battle of the Bulge, a native New Yorker who is 94 years old and still going very, very strong, Corporal Jack Foy,” Trump told the crowd.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the veteran unemployment rate has been on the decline, but veterans report hurdles in reentering the work force.

We talk with local veterans who discuss their experiences with the job market. Our guests:

  • Laura Stradley, veteran, and executive director of the Veterans Outreach Center in Rochester
  • Terry Winslow, veteran, and security manager for del Lago Resort and Casino
  • Blair Morgan, veteran, and vice president of human resources at del Lago Resort and Casino 

On this Veterans Day, we talk with refugees who served the U.S. military as interpreters in Afghanistan and Iraq, and who have come to America on Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs). By law, the SIV process should take no more than nine months, but bureaucracy and backlogs have forced candidates to wait for years. For many interpreters, an SIV is a matter of life and death: interpreters who served with U.S. forces are considered traitors by the Taliban.

This hour, our guests share the challenges they and their families have faced in coming to America. We also preview a film about SIVs called "The Interpreters" that will air tonight on WXXI-TV. In studio:

  • Mujtaba Haidar , Afghani interpreter for the U.S. military who came to America on a Special Immigrant Visa
  • Javayd Samadie. Afghani interpreter for the U.S. military who came to America on a Special Immigrant Visa
  • Ellen Smith, director of Keeping Our Promise, a program of Refugees Helping Refugees


Native Americans have played an important role in the U.S. military.  Tonight, a documentary that pays tribute to their stories premieres at 9 o'clock on WXXI-TV.

On this 100th anniversary of Veterans Day, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced he is introducing legislation to streamline the process for establishing New York's first State Veterans Cemetery.