Leadership

Donald Farnam

President

Donald Farnam served his country in the United States Navy during peacetime from August 1976 to August 1980. His first enlisted rating was that of a Fireman Striker whose job began while assigned to the Engineering Department onboard his first command, the aircraft carrier USS America CV-66. Following a 7-month deployment in the Mediterranean, Don’s orders had him reporting to the Hull Maintenance Technician “A” School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Upon graduation, he was transferred to his second and last command the USS Fulton AS-11 home-ported in New London, Connecticut and assigned to Submarine Squadron (SUBRON 10) at State Pier. In support of Naval Submarine Base Groton, the Fulton received a Command Effectiveness Award by receiving the highly sought-after red Damage Control (DC) Bridge Designation. This was achieved through the efforts of Don and his fellow HT’s who were required to take a grueling nuclear controls practices examination. For this, he and his fellow sailors were awarded the Navy Battle Efficiency with attachment ribbon. Don is also authorized to wear a Good Conduct Medal.

Prior to being honorably discharged as a Petty Officer, Don witnessed the last cruise of the historic USS Nautilus SSN-571. The Nautilus was the world’s first operational nuclear-powered submarine, and the first one to complete a submerged transit of the North Pole. 

After the Navy, he reentered the workforce with Grumman Aerospace as an F-14 Structural Mechanic in Calverton, New York. He simultaneously attended night school using the GI Bill where he obtained a degree in Fire Protection. He left Grumman after five years to find employment as an Engineer at Brookhaven National Laboratory and has been with Brookhaven approaching 30 years now. Formally known as Camp Upton, and given to Brookhaven’s rich history, he, along with two other proud veterans there, chartered the Brookhaven National Laboratory Veterans Association in 2007 where Don was honored to thrice serve as its Commander. In 2007, the Commanding Officer of the US Army’s 77 th “Liberty” Infantry Division requested from the Lab’s Senior Management, if their formal Casing of the Colors ceremony could be conducted at Brookhaven Lab, their birthplace 90 years earlier. As his newly elected role as Commander, Don serving as the Labs point of contact. 

He is a humble recipient of the Laboratory’s prestigious Brookhaven Award for his efforts benefitting the veteran residents living at the Long Island State Veterans Home at Stony Brook, the Homeless Veteran Shelter in Yaphank, Calverton National Cemetery – Wreaths Across America program, Adopt-a-Veteran Family sponsored through the Knights of Columbus and Colonial Youth and Family Services (CYFS) in Mastic, and the National Adopt-a-Platoon program for sending “care packages from home” to our troops to name just a few. Under Don’s leadership, the organizers at the National Adopt-a-Platoon headquarters in San Benito, Texas declared that the Brookhaven Veterans Association were its largest, self-sustaining organization in the entire Nation to have sent an estimated 20 tons of sundries and other items to our forward deployed troops. Countless thousands of men and women came though Camp Upton in World War I to train for war and to convalesce here after World War II. Don and Mike Paquette, his Vice-Commander, reached out to Calverton National Support Committee where they were interested in getting immersed with Wreaths Across America. After several years of being part of the Support Committee, Don was elected its President in January 2019. 

He is the last in a long family line to serve this Nation. Like his older brother before him during the Vietnam era, their father before them during WWII, and their grandfather in WWII and WWI, Don’s lineage is deeply rooted in the military. He is also a great-grandnephew to RAdm. Caspar F. Goodrich, who graduated 1 st in his Class in 1864 from the USNA and whom the Navy named the USS Goodrich DD-831 for; and to a cousin, Admiral Alan G. Kirk, who was the U.S. Senior Naval Commander during Operation Overlord on D-Day and who was responsible for the Normandy landings on Omaha and Utah Beaches. After a 50-year career in the Navy, Kirk was appointed as the United States Ambassador to Luxembourg, Soviet Union, and China. 

Historians living in San Diego who were acquainted with Don’s family tree and invited him to San Diego as their keynote speaker at the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery to recite from the same speech given over one-hundred years ago by his great-grand uncle RAdm. Goodrich. Goodrich, in his role as the Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Squadron, commemorated the sacred site to where sixty-six sailors were laid to rest from the explosion of the USS Bennington PG-4 in San Diego Harbor in 1905. 

Don is married to Liz, his wife of nearly 30 years, and they’re four beautiful daughters, Danielle, Kathleen, Keri, and Erin.

Dennis Sullivan

1st Vice President

Dennis Sullivan was elected New York State Commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars on June 11, 2016 in Binghamton, New York at the 97th Annual Department of New York State Convention. After completing his term as State Commander, Dennis was elected on June 10, 2017 to his new position as New York State Quartermaster.

Dennis served in the U.S. Army from 1971 to 1973 and earned VFW eligibility while serving with the HHC Co. Division Headquarters 101st Airborne Battalion in Vietnam as an alcohol and drug counselor. His decorations include the Vietnam Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal and Good Conduct Medal.

Dennis joined the VFW in 1984 at Post 4927 in Centereach where he is a Gold Legacy Life Member. He has served in elected and appointed positions at the Post, County, District, Department and National level. He served as his Post Commander for two years, Quartermaster fourteen years and Suffolk County Council Commander from 2009-2010. As County Commander he accomplished making his post an All-American Post and Suffolk County an All-American County. 

For the Department of New York, Dennis has served as State Surgeon two years, State Inspector two years, State Youth Education & Community Service Chairman three years, Aide to the State Commander, National Special Aide De Camp and the New York State Legislative and Membership committees. Dennis also served in many rewarding programs such as Parsons House and Fischer House, homes dedicated for the care of terminally ill veterans. 

Dennis served on National Veterans Care Committee, National Youth Education & Community Service Committee, National VFW Programs Committee. He was assigned to the National by Laws and Resolution Committee. 

Locally, Dennis served on the Suffolk County Stand Down, Gold Star Family Monument, Honor Flight, Operation Uplink and was appointed board member for the Town of Brookhaven for a monument on Global War on terrorism. Dennis serves on the Veterans Review Board providing homes for veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq. He is a member of the Veteran Advisory Board for Congressman Lee Zeldin. 

Dennis’ instituted the Recycled Car Program. To date, one hundred eight cars have been donated to needy veterans. Dennis received the Gold Medal of Merit from National Headquarters, the highest award given, for his work helping veterans during Hurricane Sandy. In 2010, Dennis was honored to receive Advocate Award of the Year from the Police organization 911 Veterans Inc. Dennis was nominated by Senator John Flanagan to receive the Veteran of the Year award and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in Albany in 2013. In 2014, Dennis was awarded the “Heart & Soul Award” from the Ronkonkoma Chamber of Commerce. In 2016 Dennis was awarded “Man of the Year” from the L.I. Times. Dennis chose “Homeless Veterans” for his special project, as State Commander of New York.  On September 30, 2017, Dennis received a Humanitarian Award from the Gift of Sight and Sons of Italy for his work with Veterans. 

Dennis is a member of many other outstanding and noble organizations including Board Member of Stony Brook Nursing Home, Vice President of the Support Committee for Calverton Cemetery, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, American Legion Post, Amvets, Disabled American Veterans, Catholic War Veterans, Vietnam Veterans, and the Military Order of the Cooties. 

Dennis and his wife Terry moved from Brooklyn to Selden in 1983. They have four children and five precious grandchildren.

Andres E. Veiga Jr.

Chaplain

Andy was born and raised in Queens, New York and is the son of a WW2 Navy veteran who received the Purple Heart for his wounds suffered during the battle of Okinawa in May 1945. Both of his parents as well as numerous relatives and friends are buried at Calverton National Cemetery. 

Andy was drafted into the US Army in 1970, serving until his honorable discharge in 1972 with service in Vietnam as an Infantryman with Alpha Co, 4/3 Infantry, 11th Light Infantry Brigade, Americal Division, based out of Chu Lai, South Vietnam.

For his service in the US Army and in Vietnam, Andy was awarded the National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Vietnam Service Medal w/1 Bronze Service Star, Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Bronze Star Medal, Air Medal, and Army Commendation Medal.

After discharge from the US Army, Andy went back to college under the GI Bill, earning an Associate Degree in Accounting from Queensborough Community College in 1973 and a Bachelor’s in Business Administration and Accounting from Bernard M Baruch College in 1975

Andy was married to Joann Stefanidis from 1977 to 1992, and they are the proud parents of daughters Stephanie and Andrea, and grand-daughter Malia.

Andy has worked at several Corporate Accounting and Finance jobs until his retirement in 2017.

Since 2000 Andy has been a member of the VFW through William F Taylor Post 9486 in Lake Ronkonkoma. Andy became a Life Member of the VFW in 2004 and has served as Post Quartermaster since then, except for the 2 years when he served as Post Commander from 2012 to 2014.

Andy was elected Commander of the Suffolk County Council of the VFW in May 2016, after going through the chairs as County Inspector, Jr Vice Commander and Sr Vice Commander.

Andy has held other positions within the VFW including various committee memberships and 2 terms as State Historian first in 2013-14 and again in 2016-17. As a member of the Ronkonkoma Memorial Day Parade Committee, he represented his VFW Post in organizing the parade every third year, in partnership with the local American Legion and AmVets Posts.

In addition to his Life Membership in the VFW, Andy is a member of the VFW National Home for Children, the Military Order of the Cootie, the Catholic War Veterans, the American Legion, Vietnam Veterans of America, Am Vets, and the Combat Infantryman’s Association.

Andy is also a member of the Americal Division Veterans Association, having held positions as Vice-Commander and Commander of the Eastern Regional Chapter of the Association.

Cynthia Ventura

Secretary

Cynthia Ventura is the outgoing National President of Blue Star Mothers of America, Inc. (BSMoA). She has held the position as National President for 2 years and has been on the Board of BSMoA, Inc. since 2012. She joined the organization in 2009. She has been a member of the Support Committee at Calverton National Cemetery for since 2015.

She is the Mother of two United States Marines. Her oldest Cpl. Jerome D. Ventura died in 2011, while in the service of the Country. He rests at Calverton National Cemetery. She finds solace in the hallow grounds of Calverton and has deep respect and gratitude for those men and women who care for this beautiful sacred place. Currently she serves in the capacity as the Recording/Corresponding Secretary for the Support Committee at Calverton National Cemetery.

Her middle son LCpl. William R. Ventura Jr. is a disabled Marine Veteran. Her heart remains always with the BSMoA who gave her the strength to endure after the two tragedies in her life, Jerry’s death and Billy’s injuries. The mission of support that BSMoA has for our Active Duty warriors as well as our veterans, while honoring our Fallen has become her mission. She is the founder of Angel Bikes, Inc. a 501(c)(3) which endows to our wounded and injured warrior’s specialty bikes in memory of our fallen Warriors. 

Cyndi lives in Selden, NY with her husband of 34 years, Bill Ventura and two sons Billy and Dylan. 

She is honored to be a part of the Support Committee at Calverton National Cemetery.

Michael J. Paquette

Treasurer

United States Marine Corps, Quantico, Virginia

Occupation:  Military Policeman, Patrolman, Patrol Supervisor, Non-commissioned Officer in charge of 50 Marines, Desk Sergeant and Dispatcher, Color Guard

Discharge: Honorable, Rank: Sergeant

  • Honor Man Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, SC
  • Sharpshooter Qualified – Rifle and Pistol
  • Meritorious promotion to the ranks of Corporal and Sergeant
  • Two Letters on Commendation
  • Two Letters of Appreciation
  • Escort Miss America 1975
  • Attached to the Law of the Sea Conference at United Nations 1976

Volunteer Activities:

  • Little League Coach – Baseball, Softball, Track, Basketball, Soccer
  • High School Booster Club President
  • Founding Member of Brookhaven National Laboratory Veterans Association
    Past Vice President, Adjutant
    Activities included Casing of the Colors, support to Long Island Vets home, support to Vets Home in Yaphank, Adopt-a-Platoon, Holiday Outreach, performing veteran ceremonies.
  • Member of the USMC League Detachment #642
    Activities include Color Guard ceremonies, Toys for Tots, Chairman of high school senior scholarship committee.
  • Support Committee at Calverton National Cemetery: Activities include Wreathes across America, participating in Veterans ceremonies, and support functions for Calverton.

David Higgins

Sergeant-at-Arms

David is an active, 20-year member on the Support Committee at Calverton National Cemetery and is currently serving in the role of Sergeant-at-Arms.

He is also a 25 plus years proud member of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 11 and presently its Chapter’s Secretary. He is also the Communications Officer on its Board of Directors.

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