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Sampson officially a state veterans cemetery

Hochul announces transfer of property from Seneca County, along with $2.8M in federal funds

The establishment of the state’s first veterans cemetery is complete, along with a new name.

On Friday, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that ownership of the Sampson Veterans Memorial Cemetery has been transferred from Seneca County to the state.

She also announced that $2.8 million is now available from the National Cemetery Administration to make improvements to the site.

The cemetery was first identified as the appropriate location for the state’s first veterans cemetery in 2021.


Hochul said the state Division of Veterans’ Services will oversee the cemetery, which has been renamed the New York State Veterans Cemetery-Finger Lakes, in accordance with national standards for state veterans cemeteries.

“Our veterans have sacrificed more than many could ever imagine, and New York is proud to establish its first State Veterans Cemetery to honor their legacies and ensure they can rest in peace,” Hochul said. “There is no better place for this first of its kind cemetery than a location steeped in military history. We will never take our

veterans for granted and we will ensure that they are taken care of in life and in death as we thank them for their selfless service.”

The 162-acre cemetery is at the site of the former Sampson Naval Training Station and Sampson Air Force Base, where hundreds of thousands of service members trained during World War II and the Korean War. The site later functioned as a temporary college and a separation center for service members being discharged. It officially closed in 2000.

State and local officials lauded the announcement.

“We are grateful to our partners in the National Cemetery Administration for recognizing New York’s first State Veterans Cemetery and for providing a grant opportunity to provide a dignified resting place for service members, veterans and their families in New York,” said Viviana DeCohen, director of veterans services. “This fulfills an important aspect of our mission to serve New York’s veteran families.”

“Seneca County is honored to have had the Sampson Veterans Memorial Cemetery selected to be New York State’s first Veterans Cemetery,” said Seneca County Board of Supervisors Chair Mike Enslow. “We have been faithful stewards of this hallowed ground and look forward to a smooth transition and to an even brighter future for this historic place.”

Former State Sen. Mike Nozzolio led the effort for a veterans cemetery at Sampson. In 2011, he secured state funding to use a portion of Sampson State Park off Route 96A for a veterans cemetery. Seneca County agreed to maintain it while a campaign to have it become the state veterans cemetery ensued. State grants paid for capital improvements at the site, following national veterans cemetery standards.

The state Division of Veterans’ Services said it worked with other officials to secure the availability of $2.8 million in federal funds, which it said was key to the property’s transfer from the county to the state.

The agency said the federal funding will allow for upgrades, including columbarium niches, preplaced crypts, landscaping, irrigation, grading and drainage, as well as maintenance building and maintenance yard, and other supporting infrastructure.

Hochul noted that New York is home to more than 688,000 veterans but was one of just a handful of states that did not have a federally recognized state-owned and operated veterans cemetery.

Hochul said the New York State Veterans Cemetery-Finger Lakes is open for interments of service members who die on active duty, veterans (as defined by federal law), and their eligible spouses and dependent children.

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