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  • Monday, January 31, 2022

    Legionnaire Leads State Division of Veterans Services

    by John J. Creskey, commander, Adolph Pfister Post 1038

    Reverend Viviana DeCohenRev. Viviana DeCohen, a member of American Legion Post 1038 in Valhalla, is the new director of the state Division of Veterans Services.

    A veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, she served as the commissioner of the Mount Vernon Veterans Service Agency and associate pastor at Mount Vernon Heights Congregational Church. She has dedicated her time and talent assisting veterans by ensuring they had food, shelter, clothing, education and employment opportunities, and by providing a little motivation which earned her the affectionate title of “Mama V.”

    When Gov. Kathy Hochul made the official announcement in November, she stated that “we are building a top-tier team to lead state agencies and deliver high-quality services for New Yorkers.”

    Along with being a Legionnaire, DeCohen is a member of Women Marines Association NY-6, Navy League, NAVPA (National Association of Veteran Program Administrators), Student Veterans of America, and military adviser to the Barbara Giordano Foundation.

    Her military service afforded her the opportunity to earn a bachelor’s degree in behavioral science and a master’s degree in health service management, both from Mercy College, where she received her start formally working with veterans and developing programs to enhance academic and overall wellness for veterans.

    DeCohen is also a caregiver coach, lecturer, writer of aging wellness programs, and speaker for the Westchester County Department of Senior Programs and Services and the Alzheimer’s Association. She is currently pursuing her doctorate in Educational Leadership & Gerontology at Concordia University, Chicago. She is a VA 2021 Women Trailblazer for her work with veteran students at Mercy College with the development of “Operation Buddy Up” and “Operation Push” that allowed once struggling students to attain their undergraduate and graduate degrees.