Dutchess County shows appreciation to veterans

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Dutchess County honored veterans Timothy Bila, Edward Axelsen,
and Timothy Hill

HYDE PARK – Dutchess County officials expressed their gratitude
for the service of local veterans during Saturday’s 12th Annual
Veterans’ Appreciation Day.

“Today is not only about saying ‘thank you,’”
said County Executive Marcus Molinaro. “It’s about knowing
that you have a partner in life in Dutchess County, that when there is
a need, we hope you turn to us.”

The event was held at the Henry A. Wallace Center at the Franklin D. Roosevelt
Presidential Library and Home in Hyde Park. Small presentations on providing
services to those who have served were held before a ceremony honoring
local veterans. More than 40 agencies, organizations and vendors were
on hand as well before the ceremony to provide information on what they
can offer veterans and their families.

Molinaro, County Veterans’ Services Director Nelson Eddy Rivera,
US Navy (ret.) and State Senator Susan Serino awarded medals to three
local veterans from different generations for their service: Staff Sergeant
Timothy Hill of Hopewell Junction, who joined the U.S. Marines in 2001
and served in Kuwait and Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom; AT2 Edward
Axelsen of Poughkeepsie, a U.S. Navy veteran who served from 1950-54;
and Corporal Timothy Bila of Hopewell Junction, who served as a Marine
in the Vietnam War between 1966 and 1967.

Twenty-five veterans, including Rivera, were honored with certificates
for their participation in the Military Behavioral Health training program.

Hosted by the Division of Veterans’ Services and Mental Health America’s
Vet-2-Vet program, the training was held in early October for two days
to coach military veterans in becoming mentors for fellow veterans and
for military families in need.

In addition to receiving his certificate for participating in the program,
Rivera, who will be retiring next January from his current post, was praised
by Molinaro for his dedication to county veterans.

“He has distinguished himself not only as a passionate advocate
for Dutchess County veterans, but a joyful one,” he said. “There
are nearly 1,700 county employees, and I will get in trouble for saying
this, but he is my favorite county employee.”

Rivera was visibly overwhelmed and elated by Molinaro’s praise.

“I don’t consider this a job,” he said of his post.
“I consider it God’s work to share and serve the veterans,
the ones who give us everything we have.”

Molinaro announced that 2018 will be the year of the veteran in Dutchess
County, in commemoration of the Return Home Parade that was held 100 years
ago in the City of Poughkeepsie to welcome local veterans who returned
home from service after World War I. A series of celebrations will be
held throughout next year to honor the service of local military veterans.
Later in the year, a ceremony will be held on Market and Main Street in
Poughkeepsie to acknowledge the parade.