Carl Marchese doesn’t want to dwell on the events which surrounded how he came to be the new commander of the , instead focusing on where he wants to do going forward.
“Our mission is to be a support for all veterans,” he said speaking in front of the during a meeting on July 11 at the . “We see the young men and women coming back maimed and disfigured and otherwise hurt from the fields of combat and we want to be there for them.”
What is known about the change at the top is that Sal Cataldo, the former commander is out after reports that he declined to hold the yearly election for the position of post commander the previous month. According to Legion members, the Nassau County Commander, county judge advocate and the associate judge advocate appeared at the following meeting, forcing an election to occur when Cataldo again allegedly refused to hold a vote.
It was at this meeting that Marchese was nominated for the commander position. Cataldo also had his name put up for election by Veterans of Foreign Wars Commander Manny Grilo, but Cataldo reportedly withdrew his name for consideration, thereby allowing Marchese to become the new head of the post.
“We have great respect for the man but we had to hold an election,” Grilo said of Cataldo.
Attempts to reach Cataldo for comment were unsuccessful. The Nassau County Commander declined to comment on the matter.
The new slate of officers for the post includes first vice-commander Tom Scardino, second vice-commander Walter Hobbs, third vice-commander Colin Cathcart-Jones, Gabe Parabas as representative to the county and Mark Eliassof of A&D Printers as finance officer. Post trustees have not been appointed yet.
As part of his new charge, Marchese said that he is looking to expand the membership – including bringing women into the post, something that has not occurred since the chapter’s founding in 1922.
“We hope to break that this year,” Marchese said. “We’re always looking for new members. By attrition our rolls have gone down over the years.”
Eligibility for the American Legion includes the requirement to be in uniform when armed hostilities took place as determined by the Congress.
Marchese said that the post has “someone in the wings and if everything is ‘jake,’ we’re going to swear her in.”
The chapter’s next meeting is August 6 at the .
“(A) very poor thing that veterans realize is that they need help,” Grilo said at the meeting noting that there are over 1 million veterans in New York State, 200,000 of which are on Long Island. “About 8,000 of those veterans are close to being homeless or homeless.”
Grilo added that the veterans’ organization recently completed a survey showing that 67 percent of veterans have little or no knowledge of veterans’ benefits.
“The other 33 that do are members of veterans’ organizations,” he said. “And the way they get this information is by going to meetings or receiving mailings such as literary magazines or newsletters.”