VFW Post 1161

New Benefit for New York Veterans

New York Veterans and their families will now have free access to state parks and other amenities throughout the state.  As of April 1, 2024, Veterans and Gold Star families who are state residents can get into state parks, campgrounds, day use areas, historic sites and recreation areas for free through the expansion of the Lifetime Liberty Pass Program.  New York State Department of Motor Vehicles photo document with Veteran status designation can be used at all staffed facilities without a Lifetime Liberty Pass.  Simply present your ID to NY State Parks staff.  If you intend to visit unstaffed locations, a No-Fee ticket can be obtained at the park office, or order a free Lifetime Liberty Pass to ensure seamless entry.  If you need to add the Veteran status designation to your ID, visit the NY State DMV website.
Members receive the following benefits:
• Free vehicle entry to state parks and Department of Environmental Conservation-operated campgrounds and day-use areas, boat launch sites, historic sites, arboretums and park preserves.
• Free greens fees at state park operated golf courses.
• Free swimming pool entrance at pools operated by state parks.
• Discounted campsite and cabin rentals at state parks and DEC operated campgrounds.

The Passing of a Friend

We are sorry to announce the passing of Primo Antonucci, a long time member of our Post and a dear friend.  Primo passed away on March 20, 2024.  He was 87 years old.
Born in Newburgh, NY, Primo served in the U.S. Navy from 1957 to 1961.  He then worked for the Ford Motor Company in Mahwah, NJ for 20 years.  After that, he went to work for IBM in Poughkeepsie for 15 years.  He then worked for Gretag MacBeth until his retirement.  Primo had a great sense of humor and always kept us laughing.  He was always willing to participate in all of our Post events.  He will be missed.

The Passing of a Friend

It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of one of our members.  Lt. Gen. James (Don) Hughes passed away on Friday, January 12, 2024.  He was 101.  He was a West Point graduate and was commissioned in the Army Air Corps.

In the Air Force, Don flew gliders, P-51 Mustangs, F-4 Phantoms and numerous other fighter aircraft.  He flew 101 combat missions in Korea and received the Purple Heart.  Don commanded the 9th, 12th and Pacific Air Forces consecutively during his nearly 40 year career, and was the recipient of the prestigious Order of the Sword award from the non-commissioned officer corps.  In 2009, he received The Distinguished Graduate Award from West Point.

In his retirement, Gen. Hughes continued in service to our nation.  Soon after returning to Newburgh, he became involved in a 12 year effort to recognize all service members that had received the Purple Heart. He was part of The Genesis Group and in 2006 the idea became a reality when The National Purple Heart Hall of Honor was dedicated in New Windsor, NY.  They are pictured here from left to right: Newspaper publisher, Everett Smith, Sen. Bill Larkin, Joseph Farina and Gen. Hughes.

Help Find Veterans Who Have Not Been On The Honor Flight

The next Hudson Valley Honor Flight will take off soon.  If you know of any WWII, Korean War or Vietnam War Veterans who have not been on the Honor Flight yet, please let us know.  Anyone who has flown it will tell you that it was a heartfelt and unforgettable experience that they will treasure.  HVHF is also looking for guardians for their upcoming flights.  For information call 845-391-0076 or visit hvhonorflight.com.  If you would like an application to be on an upcoming flight or to be a guardian, we have a link under our Upcoming Events/Hudson Valley Honor Flight page.  You can download either application and print it right from your own computer to your home printer.  Thank you, and hope to see you on the next Hudson Valley Honor Flight.

VFW Now in Castle Point

VFW now in Castle Point to help you with all your claim needs.
We are in Building 17 – Room G-110
every Thursday and every other Wednesday
7:30 AM to 3:00 PM
For information call: 845-831-2000 ext. 214431

No One Does More For Veterans

The Following Article is from the Military Times Written by Leo Shane III – Oct. 20, 2023

Fixes Could Cut Months Off Wait For Vets’ Fire-Damaged Service Records

Frequent mistakes by veterans benefits staffers are adding months of waiting time in some
routine record requests made by elderly veterans, a department watchdog warned this week.
Officials from the Veterans Affairs Inspector General’s office said improvements in training
and protocols could cut down those wait times by several months, but only if VA leaders put
more emphasis on fixing the problem.

At issue are requests for military records from the National Personnel Records Center that were damaged in a massive fire in July 1973. The disaster partially or completely burned about 18 million official Defense Department personnel files, and has for decades led to a host of problems obtaining veterans benefits for those individuals.

On average, veterans filing for disability benefits wait 146 days for their cases to be completed, according to VA data.  But for veterans whose records were damaged in the NPRC fire, that delay jumps to about 450 days because of the complexity of reconstructing records and determining individuals’ eligibility.

But the new inspector general report found that as many as 80% of those damaged records requests are being handled improperly by department staffers.  Correcting some of those mistakes — things such as checking for backup copies of the files and making timely follow-up requests — could cut wait times by up to 73 days.

“Veterans service representatives generally informed veterans of the actions necessary to complete
a record request for fire-damaged or destroyed records,” the report stated.  “However, they did not always complete required follow-up procedures, such as calling the veteran.  “VBA staff are not performing the steps in the order prescribed by the manual.”

Part of the problem is that the damaged records requests only represent a small fraction of the total claims inventory VA staff handle annually.  Total disability claim filings approached two million
cases last year, while claims involving fire-damaged records total only a few thousand each year.

Still, the added wait is potentially more harmful to those veterans than others.  The inspector general’s report said the average age for veterans requesting fire-damaged records is 87.

VA officials said they are working on solutions. They hope to implement new training and procedures early next year, according to a statement from Under Secretary of Benefits Joshua Jacobs to the inspector general’s office.

The inspector general’s report said those changes need to happen as soon as possible to “ensure these veterans receive compassionate service in a timely manner.”

The full report is available on the inspector general’s website.  Click Here

2023 Town of Newburgh Parade

Post members on May 23, 2023 as we get ready for the Town of Newburgh Memorial Day Parade.
Pictured l. to r. are:  Ray Lopez – Trustee, Bob Shiela – Trustee, Skater, John Raszcewski – Adjutant (in car), Bob Murphy – Judge Advocate, Jack D’Angelo – Quartermaster, John Cassidy and Richard Lay – Commander.  Click on the picture to see the full image.

Honor Flight Needs You

The Hudson Valley Honor Flight is looking for Guardians for future flights.
For more information please visit:  https://hvhonorflight.com/guardians/

It’s Now Official

The Town of Newburgh Memorial VFW Post 1161’s first new home became reality on Sept. 22, 2022 at 1171 Union Avenue in the Town of Newburgh.  Pictured are American Legion Post 1420 officers and VFW Commander Richard Lay and Senior Vice Commander George Reilly.

Mike Lutz Inducted into NYS Senate Veterans Hall of Fame

Our Service Officer and Post Chaplain, Michael C. Lutz was officially inducted into the New York State Veterans Hall of Fame by New York State Senator James Skoufis at the Town of Newburgh American Legion Hall on Saturday, June 11, 2022.

Mike enlisted in the United States Navy in September 1965.  His four years of Navy service, first consisted of being stationed on the Destroyer USS Charles S. Sperry (DD697).  Aboard the USS Sperry, he sailed around Asia and Africa on a Goodwill Tour.  When they docked, they helped build schools and small clinics in remote areas.  In September 1968, Mike began serving in the Mobile Reverine Force, M-151-1 in Vietnam, where he served as the Radio Operator and Machine Gunner.  He earned 4 Battle Stars.  After leaving Vietnam in 1969, having received an Honorable Discharge Mike returned to his hometown in Rockland County.

Several years later, Mike joined the Army National Guard, 101st Signal Battalion, where he served
in the Communications Division.  Then, from 1973 to 1976, he transferred to a Medical unit in the Army Reserve, 815th Station Hospital at Stewart Army Subpost, as the Sergeant in charge of the Radio Communications Section, until 1983.In 1985, Mike joined the 105th Air National Guard at Stewart Air Guard Base in Newburgh as a Maintenance Scheduler for Galaxy C5A aircraft.  During the week, Mike also worked as a postal carrier in New Windsor.  After 35 years of military service and 36 years of federal service, Mike retired at the rank of Master Sergeant (E-7) in 2007 and as a postal carrier in 2009.In 2000, Mike was a Eucharist Minister at mass at the 105th Airlift Wing Chaplain’s Office.  He also serves as a Eucharist Minister, lecturer, and usher at St. Francis Church in Newburgh, which he has been doing for over 25 years, and still does it today.  Besides being a Life Member of VFW Post 1161, Mike is also a Life Member of Joseph R. Farina Catholic War Veterans Post 386, where he serves as the 3rd Vice Commander and Service Officer.

Congratulations, Mike!

Post 1161 Presents Award to NFA JROTC Cadet – June 8, 2022

Cadet T/Sgt Litzy Fuentes was awarded a VFW Citation and a $250.00 check
for continued achievements.

Town of Newburgh Memorial Day Parade – May 29, 2022

Driving, John Raszcewski, Adjutant.  Background left, Richard Lay, Commander.

Attention All Veterans

Do you have questions? Need help?
We stand ready to help you!
Contact our Service Officer:
Mike Lutz – 845-561-8745 – [email protected]

VFW Life Member Fee Schedule

One Time Payment

Installment Plan

Initial Payment

11 Payments of

Through Age 30
























81 and over




* As of 12/31/21
For questions about converting to a life membership or to change your contact information so that
you obtain all the latest VFW news, call the VFW Member Service Center at 1-833-VFW-VETS (1-833-839-8387) or e-mail: [email protected]

Veterans Commemorate Purple Heart Day

On August 7, 1782, George Washington signed into law what we know as the Purple Heart.  This event took place right here in Newburgh, NY at what is now Washington’s Headquarters.  Several Veterans organizations were on hand for the ceremony along with Post 1161.
Pictured here are:  Michael Lutz from our Post, who did the invocation; Frank Sommerlad from the 105th Airlift Wing at Stewart; Richie Lay from the Purple Heart Honor Mission; George Reilly of the Marine Corps League; and Bob Murphy, Commander of the Catholic War Veterans Post 386.

Post 1161 Presents Award to NFA JROTC Cadet

Cadet Owen Hernandez, an honor student at Newburgh Free Academy, drill team member
and soon to be Marine was awarded the VFW Citation and Medal, and a $250 check for
Superior Cadet Achievement.

Post 1161 Provides Donation to the Save the Sullivans Campaign

The Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park has officially launched the largest fundraising campaign in the 40 year history of the Park.  With a goal of $1,000,000, Save The Sullivans is set
to raise the money needed to make permanent repairs to the hull of the USS The Sullivans.

Decades of harsh weather in Buffalo have taken a toll on the ship.  The severely weakened hull was recently compromised below the water line and the ship began taking on water.

The USS The Sullivans (DD-537) a 78-year old Fletcher Class destroyer that saw action in
World War II, the Korean War and the Cold War is a major attraction at the Buffalo and Erie
County Naval & Military Park.  USS The Sullivans is named in honor of the five Sullivan brothers who, serving together on the light cruiser USS Juneau, were all killed in action on its sinking around November 13, 1942.  The ship was christened by the fallen brothers’ mother, Alleta Sullivan and is a National Historic Landmark.  It holds a special place in our nation’s military history and a special place on the Buffalo Waterfront.

Special VFW License Plates Now Available Through NY State

New York State is now offering VFW members a special license plate with our seal right on the plate.  The initial fee for the plates is a one-time fee of $38.75 and after that you would pay your normal registration renewal.  If you want a custom plate where you choose your own letters/numbers, the initial fee is $70.00 and you would pay an additional $31.25 each year on top of your normal registration renewal.  Click here for the instructions and application that you can print from your home computer.  These plates are NOT available at the DMV offices or by phone or on-line.  They MUST be ordered by mail.

Rides Available to Castle Point VA Medical Center

There is a van service available to all Veterans to the Castle Point VA Medical Center on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.  The van runs to the Bronx VA Medical Center on Wednesdays.  For times and locations, go to our Veterans Services page.  This is a FREE service for Veterans.