United Way hosts 2nd Community Conversation Around Veterans Needs on May 24th; keynote speaker is Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus

United Way of the Orange-Dutchess Region will be hosting the second Community Conversation Around Veterans Needs on Wednesday, May 24th, from 9:00am – 12:45pm at the Newburgh Activity Center (401 Washington Street, Newburgh). Come let your voice be heard as community leaders, local citizens, and veterans discuss important community issues and how to ensure our veterans receive the services they deserve. The keynote speech will be delivered by Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus. Admission is free, but preregistration is requested. To register, go to http://bit.ly/conversation2-veterans-needs. The Veterans Community Conversation is sponsored by RBT CPAs, LLP.

In January, the first community conversation marked the launch of United Way of the Dutchess-Orange Region’s (UWDOR) participation in the national United Way veterans’ initiative, Mission United. From that conversation, UWDOR designed requests for proposals for pilot funding of programs for 2017-18. Grant recipients will be announced in June, that will help connect veterans in Dutchess and Orange counties with the critical help they need.

“Our veterans have dedicated years of service to us and it is time we do the same,” explained Jeannie Montano, President & CEO of United Way of the Dutchess-Orange Region. “With the Mission United initiative, we strive to improve the lives of veterans and show our appreciation for them and all they have done for our community.”

The community conversation keynote address will be given by Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus, an Officer in the Navy Reserves, currently assigned to the Atlantic Fleet. In addition, there will be a panel discussion by Michael Bark, Orange County Youth Bureau; Jim Coughlan, Dutchess County Comptroller and founder of Weekend for Warriors; Freddimir “Freddy” Garcia, Presidential Fellow at Marist College; Max Kemlage, Deputy Sheriff, Dutchess County Sheriff's Office, and NY Air National Guard, 105th Base Defense Squadron; Larry Neumann, Coordinator of Mental Health Association in Orange County's Vet2Vet Program; Julio Ronda, Investment Banker, US Air Force. Following the panel discussion there will be a group session and conversation that will be facilitated by United Way staff and volunteers.

“United Way is excited to continue the community conversation we started in January around the needs of veterans in the Hudson Valley. The panel of experts will expand on the issues raised at the previous conversation and by County Executive Neuhaus,” said Melissa Clark, Community Impact Manager for United Way of the Duchess-Orange Region. “However the most important input is from the community members who attend the conversation and speak out about the issues they themselves as veterans or family members of veterans face as well as representatives of agencies that currently provide support to area veterans. United Way will take the concerns voiced by everyone and utilize it in continuing to develop the overall strategy of our Mission United initiative to help guarantee our veterans receive the services they deserve. We thank the City of Newburgh for being an amazingly supportive and helpful partner and we welcome the support of our corporate sponsor, RBT CPAs, LLP.”

“In Dutchess and Orange Counties, the population includes more than 40,000 veterans,” explained Jeannie Montano. “Although the percentage of veterans living in poverty is only about 5% (which is 2% below the state average) this number jumps to 17% in some of our local cities. We hope by working together, we will learn more about the needs of our local heroes and the ways that we can ensure they are connected with the critical help they need.”

For more information about the Community Conversation and Mission United, go to www.uwdor.org/missionunited or contact Melissa Clark, Community Impact Manager, at (845) 471-1900 ext 3128 or email mclark@uwdor.org.


About the Keynote Speaker:

Steven M. Neuhaus is Orange County’s sixth County Executive since the office was established in 1970.

Since being elected County Executive, Neuhaus has focused on economic development, public safety, health, improving infrastructure and cutting Orange County’s budget, at a time when spending in many governments is on the rise. He has successfully led the effort to reduce the County budget by $40 million dollars, and brought the size of the workforce to its lowest level in a quarter century, without any layoffs or effect on services.

The son of immigrants, Neuhaus and his two sisters were raised on a working farm in Southern Orange County that is still in operation today. A Monroe-Woodbury High School graduate who took courses at SUNY Orange during senior year, he went on to receive a Bachelor Degree in History/Political Science from Mount Saint Mary College as well as a Master Degree in Public Administration from Marist College.   He is also a graduate of Leadership Orange.

Neuhaus is an Officer in the Navy Reserves and is currently assigned to the Atlantic Fleet. Neuhaus has earned two warfare designations: Seabee Combat Warfare (SCW) Officer and Navy Expeditionary Supply Corps Officer (NESCO).  His past assignments include Amphibious Construction Battalion Two, Navy Mobile Construction Battalion Two-Four and Navy Expeditionary Combat Command.

Neuhaus was sworn into office on January 1, 2014 after serving as the Town of Chester’s Supervisor since 2008. His tenure as Chester Supervisor proved to be one of the most economically successful in history, as he held the line on property taxes for residents, and stimulated local businesses. He was previously a Chester Councilman.

Neuhaus is active in the community, serving in various volunteer organizations throughout Orange County, including: the Hudson Valley Boy Scouts Annual Dinner Committee, American Legion Post 1167, the Military Officers Association of America/Mid-Hudson Chapter, the Fraternal Order of Police/Jason Conklin Lodge 957.

Neuhaus is a founding member and former chairman of the Families of War Veterans Committee, and is a supporter of the Hudson Valley Honor Flight, a non-profit organization which honors American veterans for their sacrifices by bringing them to Washington, D.C. to visit their war memorials at no cost to them.

He has served as Treasurer and Vice President of the Orange County Association of Towns, Villages and Cities and is a past member of the Board of Directors for the Orange County Land Trust.  Prior to joining the Navy Reserves he was an active member of the Lakeside Fire Department in Monroe.  Neuhaus currently serves on the County Executives of America (CEA) Board of directors.

Neuhaus lives in Chester with his wife and three children.

About the Panelists:

Michael Bark works at the Orange County Youth Bureau. In addition to providing various trainings and technical assistance, the Youth Bureau distributes funds to support youth programs throughout Orange County. The Youth Bureau has been working closely with local veterans groups to identify the need for youth and family services for Military Families in Orange County.

Jim Coughlan is a multi-lingual attorney with almost 25 years leadership and management experience in both private and public sectors. He is the Dutchess County Comptroller and supervises an annual budget of approximately $450 Million. Coughlan is the founder of Weekend for Warriors, which is an experienced based event that recognizes individual veteran’s service while promoting community awareness of veterans needs in Dutchess County and the Hudson Valley. Weekend for Warriors is partnering with the United Way of Dutchess and Orange to assist local non-profits that focus on assisting veterans as the transition to civilian life.


Freddimir “Freddy” García is the Presidential Fellow at Marist College and is responsible for a wide range of responsibilities in support of President. As an active member of the community, he serves on the board of the Catharine Street Community Center, Family Services and the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce.


Matt Kemlage has been in the Military for 9 1/2 years. He entered service into the Air Force reserve in 2007 and completed 4 years with the 439th Air Lift Wing in Massachusetts. He then transferred to the New York Air National Guard, the 105th Base Defense Squadron specifically, where he still serves. He deployed to Afghanistan for a combat deployment in 2013. Matt has been a police officer for 8 1/2 years, currently with the Dutchess County Sheriff's Office as a Deputy Sheriff. 


Larry Neumann is the Program Coordinator for the Vet2Vet Program in Orange County, New York. He began his work in social services as the Housing Director for a mid-sized agency in Middletown where he managed several grants, including two veterans’ housing programs. He is also a certified HUD Housing Inspector. Larry is a US NAVY Veteran, having served 6 years, including two WESTPAC tours.


Julio Ronda served in the Air Force from 1977-1981 as a Loadmaster then Admin Clerk. He completed a tour in South Korea from 1980-1981. After returning to New York, Ronda went to Mercy College and then got a job with an Investment Banking firm in NYC. He worked on Wall Street with several Investment Banks for 25 years.