MOUNT KISCO, N.Y. — State Sen. Greg Ball (R-Patterson) of the 40th Senate District visited Mount Kisco on Thursday and spoke passionately about trying to pass his veteran's assistance bill that is currently on the floor. His bill, labeled S5381A/A1386A, is to make New York state create a state-owned cemetery in his senate district.
With state Assembly member Robert Castelli (R – Goldens Bridge) by his side in the Mount Kisco American Legion building off of Main Street, Ball and company noted that the need to create a cemetery for veterans is pertinent to the needs of Westchester veterans, whose closest veteran cemetery options are Calverton National Cemetery in Long Island and Gerald B.H. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery in Saratoga. Both locations are roughly 100 miles away.
“There’s no veterans cemetery here. And the expense is a lot, especially for the veteran who doesn’t have much funds. His wife and loved ones has to purchase a plot,” said Eugene Perotta, the chairman of the senator’s veteran advisory committee. ”The average cost of a funeral is $14,000 to $15,000 dollars. If we can eliminate a third of that cost, or close to a third, it benefits people so much in the end.”
The bill was passed in the Senate but died in the Assembly, Ball said, and it was recently knocked down in the Senate in January. One of the main issues surrounding the topic is that there is a federal program in place to fund cemeteries, and over 30 states take advantage of the program.
“This is about a state-wide program, accessing federal dollars already there that New York state now cannot access," Ball said. "A huge number, hundreds of thousands of veterans, are underserved because of that inaction.”
Castelli and Ball are asking the residents to do their part in calling their representatives and help along the bill. As Castelli notes, politics do not need to enter the discussion.
“It’s mindful always that you should not necessarily honor the war, but you should never forget to honor your warriors," Castelli said. "Regardless of what people think of the commitment that our politicians make with our military, what’s never in question are the dignity, honor and sacrifice of the men and women who serve.”