Speaker Heastie Names Two Members to the Selection Committee for First State Veterans' Cemetery

Speaker Carl Heastie today announced that he has appointed James Bass and Sergio Villaverde to serve on the selection committee charged with determining the location of the first state veterans’ cemetery.

“The selfless men and women who serve our country deserve a sacred space to be laid to rest among their fellow service members,” said Speaker Heastie. “It is past time that New York gives our veterans and their families the lasting tribute that veterans’ cemeteries provide.”

 “It has been my great honor to chair the Assembly Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and advocate for the brave men and women who have stepped up to serve our country,” said Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chair Didi Barrett. “It came as a surprise to learn that New York State was one of only a few without a state veterans’ cemetery and I was proud to sponsor the legislation recently signed into law to change that. I hope the members of this selection committee will help create a hallowed resting place to honor our veterans for their service and to bring peace and a sense of pride to their families.”

James Bass is a Vietnam War veteran from Syracuse, New York. Currently, he serves as District 5 adjutant for the New York State American Legion, and is a member of the Onondaga County Veterans Advisory Committee and the Subcommittee for the Revalidation of the Onondaga County War Memorial. He is also a member of the American Legion General Pulaski Post 1580. Previously, he served as commander at the American Legion Dunbar Post 1642, as well as the Onondaga County American Legion.

Sergio Villaverde, a resident of the Bronx, served in the United States Coast Guard Reserve (USCG) from 1986 until 2018, and served as commander of the USCG District 1. He was awarded the 9/11 Medal and the Coast Guard Achievement Medal. He is currently an attorney at the Law Offices of Sergio Villaverde, PLLC.

In July of 2020, the Assembly passed legislation to remove barriers to establishing a state run veterans’ cemetery. Earlier this year, the Assembly built on that legislation by passing a bill that would establish a nine member selection committee to evaluate and determine the location of the first state veterans’ cemetery.