Martin C. Evans

Archive for the ‘Veterans services’ Category

Nassau vets agency gets new chief

In Uncategorized, Veterans services on January 5, 2010 at 4:11 pm

Mathew J. Rufrano, founding secretary of the county Vietnam Veterans of America, has replaced Ed Aulman as Nassau County’s Veterans Service Agency director.

County Executive Edward Mangano announced his choice for vets chief Tuesday, saying Rufrano’s 25-year involvement in veterans issues made him a good fit.

Photograph of Vietnam Memorial replica taken by Mathew Rufrano, who served as a volunteer escort of the "traveling wall." He was named Nassau's Veterans Service Agency director.

“The county’s Veterans Service Agency is a key source for all of our veterans and will be a vital part of my administration,” Mangano said. Mathew Rufrano brings many years of experience in veterans services and I welcome him to our team.”

Of course, it probably didn’t hurt Rufrano’s chances much that the two men have been friends for 20 years. Or that the 66-year-old Bethpage resident campaigned for Mangano in November’s razor-close election.

The decision to replace Aulman had been met with disappointment by many area vets. An organization representing several local vets groups said Aulman had been a strong advocate in an agency that assists veterans and their families apply for veterans benefits, obtain medical and rehabilitative services, job training and placement and other services.

But Rufrano has been a high visibility activist in the veterans community. A former staff sergeant who left the Air Force in 1970, Rufrano has sponsored Vietnam Veterans of America visits to troops recuperating at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and was a founding member of the Town of Oyster Bay’s Veterans Advisory Council, according to Mangano’s office.

“We are creating new veterans every day and we have an obligation to help them in any way we can,” Rufrano said in a press release. “And, of course, we must address the needs of our veterans from past wars.”

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Nassau vets chief ousted

In Veterans services on January 1, 2010 at 6:54 pm

The director of the Nassau County Veterans Services Agency is out after 8 years, and he’s not happy. Neither are the leaders of several vets groups.

Ed Aulman

Incoming Nassau Executive Edward Mangano sent director Ed Aulman packing effective Jan. 31 without indicating who would take leadership of the agency’s 7-member staff. Mangano, a Republican who narrowly edged Democrat Tom Suozzi  in November, apparently wants his own guy. (See Newsday article, subscription required.)

“It was a bit of a surprise,” Aulman told me. “I don’t know why they felt they had to do without me, especially since there is no replacement yet. Without a replacement, I think the agency will kind of drift along.”

Aulman’s deputy, Pat Yngstrom, who was not among the roughly 150 political appointees ousted by Mangano throughout county government, is said to be a possible replacement. Yngstrom served as director under former county executive Tom Gulotta, a Republican, from 2001 until Suozzi took office in 2002.

Mangano forced out Aulman even though United Veterans Organization of Nassau, a collection of 31 veterans groups, sent Mangano a letter urging that he keep the leadership of the agency intact, according to past president Tom Riley.

“He didn’t listen,” Riley said. “It’s political. That’s the game when a new man comes in.”

James Stasio, president of the Nassau chapter of the 1st Marine Division Association, denounced the firing, saying Aulman had been a galvanizing force for veterans in the country.

“I think it’s terrible, because he did a great job,” Stasio said.

Aulman cited increased staff training and his production of Veterans News, a monthly newsletter with information concerning veterans, as principal achievements during his tenure as director.

But the newsletter was often filled with announcements of wreath layings, senior citizens events, tributes and legislative breakfasts, and it struggled to connect with the tens of thousands of younger veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.

Aulman has been criticized for not being particularly creative or energetic in his advocacy for new veterans, whose need for services are made urgent by high rates of joblessness, homelessness, post traumatic stress disorder and other maladies, but who are often skittish about bureaucratic contact.

Aulman was a platoon leader during the Vietnam War, serving with the 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment from 1967 to 1971. He later was active locally with the 1st Marine Association and the Marine Corps League.