NEWS

CSCVC Press Release Coverage – Request to Governor to Reopen Veterans Posts

 

CSCVC Press Release Coverage – Request to Governor to Reopen Veterans Posts

KOVR-TV13/31 (CBS) Sacramento, November 11, 2020

https://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2020/11/11/veteran-halls-open-coronavirus-closures/

Advocates Fight To Keep Veterans Halls Open Amid Another Round Of Coronavirus Closures – CBS Sacramento

By Laura Haefeli

 

STOCKTON (CBS13) — A new surge of coronavirus cases is forcing businesses in Northern California to once again close their doors. Places like VFW posts and American Legions, which are classified as bars, may have to close as coronavirus cases spike and counties move backward in the state’s tiers.

 

On the eve of Veterans Day, Retired Corporal Frank S. Wright, USMC, and Major William C. White, one of the oldest living Marines in the U.S., say it’s places like the American Legion that’s helped them cope with post-traumatic stress disorder.

 

"That’s what the legion does for you, it gives you a place to discuss. You have to get it all out of your head,” Wright said.

 

But with COVID-19 cases spiking across California, veterans’ posts are at risk of having to close their doors to military members once again.

 

Bob Reeb is a lobbyist with the California State Commanders Veteran Council. He says the group sent a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office asking for posts to remain open regardless of coronavirus restrictions.

 

"Many of the veterans’ posts and halls have a small bar as part of the building,” Reeb said. "The bar does not have to be open in these posts and halls. These posts and halls serve very important roles in the lives of our veterans.”

 

Reeb says access to mental health resources tops the list of importance for veterans.

 

"The veterans’ service officer can meet with veterans and assist them in filing claims whether they be health-related or otherwise, to secure benefits from the vets’ administration in Washington D.C. Having the buildings themselves closed is creating real issues for veterans throughout California,” Reeb said.

 

Veterans halls are often used for group gatherings from city council meetings to weddings. Reeb tells CBS13 if they can’t start renting their halls out soon, the financial impact could be devastating.

 

KABC-TV7 (ABC) Los Angeles, November 11, 2020

https://abc7.com/veterans-day-american-legion/7871436/

American Legion Posts remain closed due to COVID, posing problems for Veterans around Southern California (*video)

By Sid Garcia

 

PANORAMA CITY (KABC) -- As we salute the men and women who have served in the military on this Veterans Day, one group that's honored vets for more than a century is facing some very tough times.

 

On a normal Veterans Day, this American Legion post in Panorama City would be filled with Veterans and their families enjoying the holiday. Like many other posts, it's now empty... closed for over eight months because of the pandemic. Andy Robledo has been a member of this post for 16 years.

 

"We have our WWII vets in their 90's now. Korean War vets are in their 80's, and most of the Vietnam vets are in their 70's. They're getting older and we miss them a lot," said Robledo. "And we just can't wait to be able to see them again. We give them hugs, that's what we usually do... and we don't know how much longer we have with them."

 

"I feel a connection to what our fathers and family members have died to protect. And couldn't more American than honoring these people," said Erik Rettebal.

 

Because of the Purple Tier Los Angeles County is in, the 17 American Legion posts in the county cannot open, which means they can't raise money to pay their bills: Pancake breakfasts, Friday night dinners, leasing their facility out for special occasions- that's how they usually raise money to keep their doors open.

 

"Elks, Moose lodge, American legion, VFW, we're all in the same boat together," said Post Commander Jere Romano. "And each one of these facilities still need electricity, upkeep, pay their taxes; so even though we're closed costs are still rising. And those costs need to be addressed. And if they're not addressed, that a lot of these facilities will need to sell their buildings."

 

The posts are asking Los Angeles County to list them as essential so they can at least open up to 25 percent capacity. One Veteran told me these posts are their second home. This is where they can go to be with others who understand what they've been through.

 

"These posts allow our veterans to sit down with like members. They don't even have to talk. They can sit in a corner and be silent and feel enveloped. We become a family here," said Ellen Mitchell, American Legion Post Commander U.S. Army Veteran.

 

The bottom line is this: if these posts aren't allowed to open up, their doors could be closed permanently.

 

KESQ-TV3 (ABC) Palm Springs, November 11, 2020

https://kesq.com/news/2020/11/11/veterans-council-pushes-gov-newsom-to-reopen-vfw-posts-for-essential-services-support/

Veterans council pushes Gov. Newsom to reopen VFW posts for essential services, support (*video)

 

A California state veterans council is pushing Governor Newsom to allow VFW posts and halls to reopen.

 

In a letter sent to the governor last week, the California

State Commanders Veterans Council (CSCVC) claimed VFW posts are being wrongly categorized as bars, and keeping them shut down is preventing veterans from accessing critical services and support.

 

For online veterans resources in the valley, click here or here.

 

"They've helped me with my paperwork; now they're hard to access because of the virus and it's hurting everybody, veterans included," said Gary Caldwell, a valley veteran who served in the U.S. Navy in the 80s, spending five years aboard the destroyer U.S.S. Robinson off the coast of San Diego.

 

This Veterans Day he and his wife Becky Goebel set their van up to enjoy a drive-in movie at the Palm Springs Air Museum.

 

They said they've waited months to get assistance with a Veterans Affairs disability claim.

 

"Without the posts being open, it's hard to talk to anybody," Goebel said. "For 8 months, 9 months now, we've not been able to make contact and that's crucial in getting this done."

 

In La Quinta Wednesday, Daniel Prentice with VFW Post 3699 in Indio was giving out buddy poppies for donations, one of the only ways VFWs can fundraise in the pandemic.

 

Prentice said despite regular zoom meetings, veterans are missing out on important socialization due to posts being closed.

 

"That's so important for older people and veterans, especially those with PTSD," he said. And while some VFW services have been made available online, many veterans don't have that capability.

 

"If veterans aren't real internet savvy, that is an issue," Goebel said. "How do they make contact? They're used to being able to see a person, interact with a person."

 

Still, some veterans worry about getting back together in person as the pandemic continues to worsen.

 

"I'm in a high risk group," Prentice said. "At a meeting, we could have 25 to 75 members in the hall and there's not room for everybody to really get separate and some people aren't careful with their hands and their masks."

 

KXTV-TV10 (ABC) Sacramento, November 11, 2020

https://www.abc10.com/article/news/local/sacramento/bar-or-veterans-community-center-advocates-push-to-reopen-veterans-posts-and-halls/103-1431d222-9d6a-42c8-9552-7dc7ac94f808

Bar or community center? Advocates push to reopen veterans' posts, halls (*video)

By Van Tieu

 

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Veterans Day amid a pandemic can be summed up in two words.

 

"It sucks," Retired US Army Lt. Col. Pete Conaty, a veterans advocate, said.

 

On a day where veterans would fill the post to celebrate and bond, he said Veterans of Foreign Affairs Posts and American Legion Halls are sitting dark and empty.

 

"We've been overlooked," Conaty said.

 

Under California's reopening guidelines, veteran halls and posts have been shut down because they're considered bars. The establishments hold membership-only veterans' liquor licenses.

 

"That's only a very small portion of what these posts and halls provide to veterans," Bob Reeb, a legislative advocate, said.

 

Reeb is assisting the California State Commanders Veterans Council in getting the state to change its pandemic blueprint. The advocates wrote a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom in early November arguing that the posts are community resource centers for veterans, where they connect with each other and get benefits.

 

Volunteers say its especially true for aging veterans who are not tech-savvy and need help navigating computers to connect to benefits and resources.

 

"This is their home. This is a veteran's community center for veterans, and they are suffering now that we've been closed for seven months," Conaty said.

 

According to the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), from March to September, its service department saw a drop of over 850 veterans' claims -- roughly $2.2 million owed to veterans and their families.

 

"This is pretty much their social life and we've taken that away from them," said Jeanne Harshbarger, Sacramento's American Legion Post 832 volunteer bar manager.

 

Harshbarger said the sense of community the post provides for veterans struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other challenges stemming from service is like medicine to the men and women she serves.

 

"There's a tremendous amount of healing power," she said.

 

Without the posts and halls, advocates say California is failing its physically and emotionally disabled veterans and their families.

 

Advocates say they want to posts open with appropriate coronavirus restrictions, before the posts go under, financially, and create negative impacts on veteran communities for years to come. Conaty said he had a message for Newsom this Veterans Day.

 

"Governor, please help us. Open the veterans' posts and halls. We will work with you and we will follow all the rules, but we need you to help us open our post," he said.

 

ABC10 reached out to the Governor's office and have yet to hear a response. The California State Commanders Veterans Council said it is awaiting a response from the governor as well.

 

Modesto Bee, November 11, 2020

https://www.modbee.com/news/local/turlock/article247084327.html

Mouths are where the money is. How struggling veterans groups manage through pandemic

By Deke Farrow

 

As veterans groups appeal to the state to loosen restrictions on posts and halls during the COVID-19 pandemic, some local chapters have been leaning heavily on takeout and limited-seating meals to stay afloat.

 

Weekly breakfasts and dinners long have been a steady source of income for posts to maintain facilities and offer programs and services, but the loss of canteen revenue and facility rentals because of the outbreak has made them more crucial.

 

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5059 in Turlock has a fairly full calendar of meals for November, including taco nights every Monday and burger dinners every Friday. It also has Wednesday lunches that have included chicken plates or chicken sandwiches and chili and cornbread. A special Veterans Day dinner this week has steak and oysters on the menu.

 

The Monday and Friday dinners are the "die-hard ones that we always keep going,” post Commander Lyle Ducheneaux said in a phone interview Monday. The Wednesday meals have been thanks to community donations of food and volunteer labor.

 

Loss of facility rentals has cost the post somewhere in the neighborhood of $25,000 — "a major hit,” he said. And the loss of the only fundraiser the VFW does (as opposed to fundraising by its auxiliary), which is working as servers at the county fair, was another $10,000 blow when the event was canceled last summer, Ducheneaux said.

 

"And of course when we were shut down altogether (during lockdown and when Stanislaus was in the purple tier), wow, I wouldn’t even want to guess,” he said. "Since this happened, it’s easy to say it cost our post easily in excess of $100,000.”

 

At a time when bills and other costs keeping coming even as revenue dwindles, the extra meals have been a big help, he said. "We’re trying our damnedest to keep things going and stay afloat,” Ducheneaux said, saying the post had one air-conditioning unit go belly up and another cost a lot to repair, had to replace a beer cooler, needs major roof repair and has to bring a restroom up to Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.

 

Those expenses are on top of ongoing costs like property taxes and catering and Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control licenses. "We can’t let any of that lapse,” he said. "You would think that nonprofits for veterans would be cut a break on requirements, but no.”

 

POSTS ‘AT BACK OF LINE’ FOR REOPENING

In fact, ABC licensing to serve alcohol may have worked against posts during the pandemic. A news release issued Monday by the California State Commanders Veterans Council says it believes posts have been mistakenly categorized as bars under the state’s reopening guidelines because many of them "hold a restrictive, membership-only veterans’ liquor license. This classification puts veterans’ posts at the back of the line for reopening, and puts access to services further out of reach for many veterans.”

 

And in a letter to the editor received by The Modesto Bee, VFW state Commander John G. Lowe said the state is being asked to reclassify posts. He says posts’ work is being curtailed on top of the pandemic by unnecessary government regulations.

 

"VFW posts are community hubs providing many essential programs and services. We offer free professional help with VA disability claims. We assist veterans who are homeless or distraught.”

 

Thankfully at Post 5059, programs and services like helping vets pay for gas, rent and groceries are supported by a different account funded through contributions, Ducheneaux said. So the loss of revenue from COVID-19 restrictions "has not attacked our general fund yet because of our gracious community,” he said. "It is dwindling but it still there.”

 

American Legion Post 88 in Turlock also has upped its meal-service game, adding Monday dinners, and finds itself "in good shape” to weather the pandemic financially, Commander Carl Lasiter said by phone.

 

Though his post, too, lost its biggest fundraiser of the year — a beer booth at the county fair — "we’re very fortunate that we have enough in reserves to pull us through this crisis. Our people in the past have kind of given us that margin or edge that we have.”

 

Still, meals bring in needed revenue, and just as important, keep the post in the public’s mind, the commander said. Post 88 offers tri-tip sandwich meals on Monday nights and meals of either spaghetti, ribs or steak on Friday nights. The cook, John Haggstrom, posts on his Facebook page what the meals will be and takes reservations so he knows now much to prepare, Lasiter said.

 

"We’ve been very successful, selling out almost every Monday night and Friday,” the commander said. "So far, we’ve been doing all drive-through but we offer outside seating. But now that it’s gotten cold, people probably won’t be wanting to eat outdoors.”

 

A STRUGGLE FOR MODESTO’S VFW

At VFW Post 3199 of Modesto, loss of facility rentals for weddings, quinceaneras, work and retirement parties and more has cut deeply into everything from facilities upkeep to services offered to a scholarship fund, said Arlene Martinez, president of the post auxiliary.

 

Like its fellow Turlock post, the Hatch Road facility needs air conditioning and roof repairs, she said, and also has insurance, utilities and other ongoing costs.

 

Only in the few weeks that Stanislaus County has been in the red tier has the post been able to open at 25% capacity, she said, so revenue still is tight, there still are no rental bookings for limited use of the hall or the post’s park area.

 

"We haven’t had small-group gatherings here,” Martinez said, and turnout for meals has been light. At a breakfast, "you might get a family of four or five at a table over here, and you may get one or two at a table over there. And then there are some that go outside there with the sun shining and pretty nice weather.”

 

So the meal sales — Friday dinners, Saturday barbecued chicken sandwiches, Sunday breakfasts and a recent drive-through fried chicken dinner — "haven’t made much of a dent, but it’s a little bit coming in,” she said.

 

What veterans groups really need, Martinez said, is an exemption to restrictions "so we can carry on to do what we always have done.” Veterans, who have done so much for their country, deserve that, said the 73-year-old widow of veteran Daniel Martinez.

 

Her husband served more than 23 years in the military, from the Marines to the Army National Guard, she said. At age 56, he was deployed to Iraq.

 

He died two years ago, Martinez said, beginning to cry. Of him and his brothers and sisters in arms, she said, "I have this in my heart, because without them, where would we be?”

 

Patch Los Angeles, November 11, 2020

https://patch.com/california/los-angeles/ca-veterans-ask-newsom-reopen-posts-others-scramble-adjust

CA Veterans Fight To Reopen Posts: 'Not Just Halls With Bars’

By Kat Schuster

 

LOS ANGELES, CA — American Legion Posts used to be a place where veterans of all ages could gather and share stories of service. But as the coronavirus pandemic forced hundreds of veterans halls across the state to close, many aging veterans who did not adapt well to online socializing were severed from their communities.

 

Last week, veterans across the state collaborated to send Gov. Gavin Newsom a letter, urging him to reopen these historic posts and halls after months of closure. Authors of the letter allege that these veterans' posts have been falsely classified as "bars" under reopening guidelines, cutting veterans off from necessary support and health resources.

 

And while the classification of these posts as bars wasn't completely inaccurate, leaders of such halls maintain that these places can offer more than a place to grab a drink.

 

"I think there is absolutely a way to transform that space with the right resources, but just purely classifying an American Legion as a bar is incorrect," Jennifer Campbell, commander of the Hollywood American Legion Post 43, told Patch. "While they have a bar and it may be a social gathering point, it's not the backbone of what it is that we do for our members and for the community. "

 

Campbell is the second woman to be elected commander of the Hollywood American Legion Post 43, which open its doors at its current location in 1929 but was first established in 1919.

 

Some 275 posts have closed amid a wave of COVID-19 restrictions imposed earlier this year. Five posts have been permanently shuttered, and three others are pending closure, according to John G. Lowe, State Commander for the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

 

Many of these California halls are ripe with history, with some over 100 years old. Post leaders like Campbell have been working to preserve their historical value and community engagement during the pandemic.

 

"A lot of people are scrambling, and I know a lot of posts have looked at closing their doors," Campbell said. "I think that the older population desperately feels it...I think a lot of time the highlight of their month was getting out to the American Legions for meetings."

 

Campbell says the Hollywood post has attempted to transition their members — all 1,300 of them — to become an online community. They have scraped together Zoom happy hours, and launched a state of the art drive-in theater.

 

"It's challenging...we obviously have a large demographic of aging veterans that are the most vulnerable to this virus and so we are very cognizant of that," Campbell said. "But there's also a lot of people that rely on these resources that the American Legion provides."

 

The Hollywood Legion Theater, which is the first and only drive-in theater in Hollywood, has done exceptionally well, she said, with attendance soaring and even selling out some shows. Celebrities Tyra Banks and Zoey Deschanel have also attended showings at the Hollywood drive-in.

 

"We ourselves rely on the income of our business model, which relies on our theatre and our events," Campbell said. "So we have had to quickly scramble and transition to this drive-in, which nowhere near covers the debt we've incurred."

 

Many posts across California generate their own funds through events, and they provide funding for scholarships and emergency financial relief.

 

"Members provide vital voluntary services to our communities," Lowe wrote in his letter to Newsom of the posts statewide. "This includes over 90 thousand hours last year, equating to roughly $2.8 million in donated time and money."

 

For the older members, the post launched a Buddy Check Outreach program to keep track of senior veterans who may be feeling increasingly more isolated.

 

"We're making sure they have the things they need, especially early on when you couldn't get toilet paper," Campbell said. "We're checking, do they have the essentials that they need? Do they have someone to check on them? Do they have transportation to their doctors appointments?"

 

Despite all of these efforts to transition, some members simply fell out of touch in the last several months.

 

"As much as we try to connect with our older members, a lot of time they're not on social media," she said, adding that the Hollywood post recently had many of its World War II veterans pass away. "We just have an aging population and it's been very sad not to be able to pay tribute to in the manner that we would hope to."

 

While many veterans have called for a complete reopening of these halls, Campbell says that could be a risky decision.

 

"I don't think the answer is necessarily just opening up altogether because what I would hate to see is exposing aging members to the virus who would have an even harder time fighting it," she said.

 

To transition to a safer space in which posts could reopen, Campbell says she hopes the state will consider offering more resources to the halls and veterans in the state.

 

"I think the bar element is important to a lot of posts, but it's not the only element," Campbell said.

 

While many of these posts did in fact hold liquor licenses, Lowe and veterans organizations across the state have maintained that the posts should not be classified as bars and that the closure of such posts and halls was causing "significant hardship on countless veterans, as well as threatening the long-term existence of these important places."

 

"Unfortunately, many of our posts have halls and possess liquor licenses," Lowe wrote in a September letter to Newsom. "...many of our posts are not just halls with bars, but rather hubs within our communities providing a wide range of essential programs..."

 

Newsom's office did not immediately respond to Patch for comment.

 

From March to September, the VFW Service Department recorded a drop of more than 850 veterans' claims, according to Lowe. And the lack of compensation received by veterans' families also decreased by $2.2 million, Lowe added.

 

These posts, according to Members of the California State Commanders Veterans Council, serve as a refuge for veterans who suffer from physical and emotional trauma. Before the closure, many posts had trained veteran service officers who could help veterans apply for benefits such as health care and mental health care, the letter states.

 

Lowe says that without these posts, veterans are forced to commute to larger urban centers to receive assistance, "whether this means free, professional help filing, or appealing a VA disability claim, providing a therapeutic place for our veterans, assistance with veterans who are homeless or contemplating suicide."

 

Posts also once offered assistance with education access and job training. As a result of the months-long closures, "thousands of veterans" were unable to access these resources, the letter states.

 

Lowe also says that these closures have impacted California's economy, adding that the VFW processed 3,400 claims in 2019 alone, which rewarded in $30 million of compensation and pension benefits to veterans and their families.

 

"While we understand and commend your efforts to protect Californians, we hope you will reconsider classifying our post home as 'bars' and allow us to open for important veteran-related activities while adhering to COVID-19 precautions," Lowe wrote to Newsom in September. "Our motto of 'No One Does More For Veterans' is being curtailed by the pandemic, but also from unnecessary regulations at all levels of government."

 

 

KCBS-TV2 (CBS) Los Angeles, November 9, 2020

https://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2020/11/09/veterans-posts-california-newsom-bars-coronavirus/

Veterans Groups Call On Newsom To Reopen Vet Posts, Halls Classified As Bars

 

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – A statewide coalition of veterans organizations is urging California Governor Gavin Newsom to reopen the state’s veterans’ posts and halls that have been closed since March due to the pandemic.

 

In a letter sent to Newsom last week, members of the California State Commanders Veterans Council (CSCVC) said despite providing critical services to veterans such as processing claims for healthcare and disability benefits, veterans posts are still not eligible to open because they are classified as bars.

 

According to the CSCVC, veterans’ posts have been mistakenly categorized as bars under California’s reopening guidelines due to the fact many of the posts hold a restrictive, membership-only veterans’ liquor license.

 

The group says such as classification puts veterans’ posts at the back of the line for reopening, and could delay critical access to services for many veterans.

 

From March to September, the VFW Service Department saw a drop of over 850 veterans’ claims – a decrease of $2.2 million – owed to veterans and their families for their service, according to John G. Lowe, State Commander, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Department of California.

 

"Our posts are not halls with bars, but rather hubs within our communities providing a wide range of essential programs and services to help veterans of every generation,” he said. "Posts’ closures have had devastating impacts on our ability to provide vital assistance to veterans, especially in rural and smaller communities.”

 

Bars that do not offer meals remain closed statewide under Newsom’s executive orders that date back to March.

 

The group is requesting that posts be allowed to reopen so long as they comply with ABC and county health restrictions, regardless of the status of the counties in which they are located.

 

KOVR-TV13/31 (CBS) Sacramento, November 9, 2020

https://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2020/11/09/hall-post-open-covid-bar/

Veterans’ Group Asks Gov. Newsom To Reopen Posts And Halls In California

 

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – A veterans’ organization is asking Governor Newsom to allow the state’s veterans’ posts and halls to reopen. It says the establishments help connect vets to essential services.

 

Post and halls up and down the state have been closed since March due to the pandemic. They have liquor licenses, and, as a result, have been classified as bars — something the California State Commanders Veterans Council (CSCVC) says is a mistake on the state’s part.

 

In a letter sent to the Governor last week, members of the Council argued the posts serve to connect vets to services and benefits like healthcare, mental health services, and job training.

 

"California’s veterans’ posts play a critical role in connecting our state’s veterans with the benefits and services they need. They also aid homeless veterans, connect veterans dealing with depression and PTSD to counseling, and provide meals for disabled and homebound veterans. The closure of our posts has had a direct and negative impact on the ability of veterans’ service officers to help our veterans,” said Ed Grimsley, State Commander, American Legion, Dept. of California.

 

Veterans’ posts reportedly help veterans navigate and apply for benefits. Since the posts have been shut down, there has been a decrease in claims for veteran disability and pension benefits, said John G. Lowe, State Commander, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Department of California.

 

"From March to September, the VFW Service Department saw a drop of over 850 veterans’ claims – a decrease of $2.2 million owned to veterans and their families for their service,” said Lowe.

 

The state reports that the positivity rate for COVID-19 has increased .8% to 3.7% for the 14-day average.

 

Palm Springs Desert Sun, November 9, 2020

https://www.desertsun.com/story/news/2020/11/09/covid-19-california-veterans-posts-ask-newsom-let-them-reopen/6229276002/

California veterans' posts ask Newsom to let them reopen amid COVID-19 pandemic

By Maria Sesito

 

Veterans organizations across the state have sent a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom asking him to reopen veterans' posts and halls. The facilities, classified as bars, closed along with other indoor operations amid COVID-19 restrictions earlier this year.

 

Members of the California State Commanders Veterans Council (CSCVC) say that these closures have resulted in a drop in services to veterans across the state.

 

"California’s veterans’ posts play a critical role in connecting our state’s veterans with the benefits and services they need," said Ed Grimsley, state commander of the American Legion's Department of California.

 

"They also aid homeless veterans, connect veterans dealing with depression and PTSD to counseling, and provide meals for disabled and homebound veterans," Grimsley said. "The closure of our posts has had a direct and negative impact on the ability of veterans’ service officers to help our veterans."

 

Veterans’ posts have been mistakenly categorized as bars under the state's reopening guidelines because many have liquor licenses, according to CSCVC.

 

"From March to September, the VFW Service Department saw a drop of over 850 veterans’ claims – a decrease of $2.2 million owned to veterans and their families for their service,"  said John G. Lowe, state commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars' Department of California. "Our posts are not halls with bars, but rather hubs within our communities providing a wide range of essential programs and services to help veterans of every generation."

 

"Posts’ closures have had devastating impacts on our ability to provide vital assistance to veterans, especially in rural and smaller communities,” Lowe said.

 

CSCVC is requesting that posts, in compliance with Alcoholic Beverage Control and county health restrictions, be allowed to reopen regardless of the status of the counties in which they are located in the state's color-coded four-tier reopening framework.

 

Tom Swann Hernandez, founder of AMVETS Palm Springs Post 66, hasn't seen the letter, but said he agrees with the premise.

 

"Our meeting room is separate from the bar and restaurant," Swann Hernandez said Monday. Alcohol isn't allowed at meetings and members could socially distance, he said. Last month's meeting was held via Zoom, but, he said, that doesn't provide the kind of access to services available at in-person meetings.

 

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, he added, the AMVETS Express, which shuttles veterans from the desert to the VA hospital in Loma Linda, has had to reduce its service. It is now operating with two fewer drivers than usual and, due to social distancing requirements, can only transport three passengers at a time instead of its typical nine.  

 

"Because our posts aren’t having face-to-face meetings, veterans aren’t getting the help they need," Swann Hernandez said.

 

Disabled American Veterans (DAV) offices have also been closed since the start of the pandemic.

 

USA Today, November 9, 2020

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/11/09/state-sees-jump-covid-cases-election-parties-arent-helping/6225989002/

In California: State sees jump in COVID cases and election parties aren't helping (*excerpt)

By Winston Gieseke

 

Veterans ask Newsom to reopen vet posts

The California State Commanders Veterans Council (CSCVC), a statewide coalition of veterans organizations, are calling upon Newsom to reopen California’s veterans’ halls and posts, which have been closed since March because of what they say is a mistaken categorization during the coronavirus pandemic.

 

The CSCVC sent Newsom a letter last week saying that veterans' posts provide necessary services to veterans, such as processing claims for healthcare and disability benefits.

 

However, these important services have been denied to veterans, according to the organization, because several posts hold a restrictive, membership-only veterans’ liquor license and as a result have been unfairly placed in the same reopening limbo as bars.

 

"California’s veterans’ posts play a critical role in connecting our state’s veterans with the benefits and services they need," said Ed Grimsley, state commander of the American Legion's Department of California.

 

"They also aid homeless veterans, connect veterans dealing with depression and PTSD to counseling, and provide meals for disabled and homebound veterans," Grimsley said. "The closure of our posts has had a direct and negative impact on the ability of veterans’ service officers to help our veterans."

 

The CSCVC is asking that halls in all counties be allowed to reopen so long as they comply with the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control and county health restrictions.

 

So far, there has been no response from Newsom.

 

KNX-AM1070 Radio Los Angeles, November 9, 2020

Coverage(*click to listen)

 

WWII Vet 98-yo Birthday

VFW, OC Agencies, Celebrate U.S. WWII Navy Vet, Harold E. Carter's 98th Birthday Thursday w/Drive-By and Happy Birthday Song in South County


Leading California Veterans Organizations Call on Governor Newsom to Reopen Veterans’ Posts

Groups say COVID-related closures are preventing posts from providing critical services to veterans such as processing claims for healthcare and disability benefits.


Veterans Day 2020: Deals and freebies on meals for veterans, active-duty

On Wednesday, the nation celebrates veterans and active-duty military members. Restaurants are offering deals and freebies to mark the day and honor those who have served their country. Below are a few of those deals.


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Click on the title below to read the full article on the VFW National website.

VFW Foundation Celebrates 25 Years of Service


VFW National Commander Echoes VA Secretary Sentiment of Commitment, Solidarity


VA Extends Relief for Borrowers Affected by COVID-19


Denis McDonough Confirmed as New VA Secretary


Prominent Veteran Service Organizations Urge Congress and VA to Act in Newly Released Report


VFW Celebrates Black History Month


Two Former VFW Staff Members Named to New VA Administration


Even Through a Pandemic, Sport Clips Haircuts Raised More Than $1M to Support VFW Help A Hero Scholarships


VFW to Host #SportClipsSalute Week


Post of the Month Launches to Showcase How Posts Are #StillServing


VFW Announces Annual Publications Contest


VFW Demands SECVA Wilkie Resign Immediately in Light of Damning VA OIG Report in Response to a Veteran's Sexual Assault Allegation


VFW Recouped More Than $9.7B in Benefits for Veterans Nationwide


Pandemic Won't Stop BK Support of Veteran Families


Calling All Middle and High School Students


Veterans Need Support Especially in a Pandemic


The VFW Podcast Debuts Today


VFW Sport Clips to Host Virtual Walk for Veterans


Celebrate VFW Day


VFW National Commander Honors Two Louisiana Sheriff's Deputies for Heroic Actions


2021 VFW-SVA Legislative Fellowship Application Period Now Open


VFW, Sport Clips Award Nearly $700,000 in Scholarships to Veterans


Hal Roesch II Elected VFW's New National Commander


More Than 1 Million Meals Raised for Food Pantries in Need


VFW to Host #StillServing Celebration July 20-24


Virginia VFW Post Receives National Community Service Award


2020 VFW Scout of the Year Winners Named


VFW Stands for Equality, Condemns Vandalism of WWII Memorial


VFW Pays Its Respects to the Fallen During Memorial Day


2020 National Publications Contest Winners Named


Ace Hardware, VFW Honor Fallen Heroes with 1 Million American Flags


VFW Thanks White House Defense Department and VA for Weekly Briefs


VFW Kicks Off Annual Youth Scholarship Competitions


VFW Cancels Reno National Convention


VSOs Call on President to Uphold 48-Hour Review


VFW Urges Congress to Pass the Major Richard Star Act to Ease the Financial Burden of Medically-Retired Veterans During COVID-19 Pandemic


VFW Announces Top Teachers in National Contest


#StillServing During the COVID-19 Pandemic


Call Out for Post and Department Stories


VFW Opposes VA Decision to Eliminate Accredited Veterans Service Officers 48-Hour Review Period for Claims; Demands Answers from Leadership


VFW Pays Tribute to the Service of Our Vietnam War Veterans


Scam Reminder


VFW Mobilizing, Combating Effects of Invisible Enemy


VFW Remains Committed to Service and Country Amidst COVID-19


VFW Demands Congress Hold VA Accountable for Failure to Grant Benefits to Vietnam, Post 9/11 Veterans Suffering from Toxic Exposures


VFW Awards National Youth Scholarship Winners


VFW to Deliver 2020 Priority Goals to Congress


VFW Launches Campaign to Showcase Veterans #StillServing


Twisted X Signs on as Title Sponsor of VFW Youth Programs


CDW Presents 10000 Donation to the VFW