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North Hempstead to launch panel to aid veterans

The Town of North Hempstead plans to create a Veterans Advisory Committee to address the needs of local veterans who were injured during military service and the families of those killed in combat.

Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth made the announcement Wednesday on the Mary Davies Green, across from town hall in Manhasset, at a news conference held to unveil North Hempstead's designation as a "Purple Heart Town" by the Hicksville chapter of the national Military Order of the Purple Heart organization.

Robert Chiappone, chapter commander, said the "honor" means North Hempstead will be dedicated to making sure veterans are remembered. Chiappone said North Hempstead joins a growing list of Long Island Purple Heart communities that includes Hempstead, Babylon and the Village of Lindenhurst.

A spokesman for the American Civil War Library in Washington, D.C., said the federal government does not keep a record of how many Purple Heart recipients there are in individual communities.

During the event, which included a small group of soldiers from Long Island who had received the Purple Heart and Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington), the Military Order presented the town with a wooden sign that reads, "North Hempstead, A Purple Heart Town." It was hung beneath the Mary Davies Green sign on the green.

"Although Veterans Day is not officially marked until Nov. 11, we'd like to think of today as Veterans Day in North Hempstead," Bosworth said. "I'm proud to honor our Purple Heart vets in any way possible."

Referring to the new sign on the green, she added, "This will remind all who pass by of the sacrifices made by our servicemen and -women."

Plans are to have similar signs erected in local parks and possibly in other locations throughout town.

Bosworth said the volunteer advisory committee will include residents, civic leaders and veterans who will help determine how the town can increase services and other assistance offered to its veterans and their families. "This will serve as another voice for our veterans," she said.

Israel said Americans are "obligated" to address the needs of those in the military and to make sure they are not forgotten once a war or conflict ends.

Chiappone, 68, a Vietnam War veteran who lives in East Meadow, said he received the Purple Heart after being wounded in the forearm and chest by shrapnel. "By the time we're done, we're going to get all the towns on Long Island to be Purple Heart communities," Chiappone said.

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