Groups say COVID-related closures are preventing posts from providing
critical services to veterans such as processing claims for healthcare
and disability benefits
SACRAMENTO – Leading California veterans’ organization are calling on
Governor 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
the Governor last week, members of the California State Commanders
Veterans Council (CSCVC) highlighted the important role these posts
serve in connecting veterans to essential services and benefits such
as healthcare, mental health services, education, and job training.
Despite providing these essential services to veterans, veterans posts
are still not eligible to open because they are classified as bars.
The CSCVC believes that 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. 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.
“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.
Veterans’ posts provide a necessary support structure for California
veterans. Posts have trained veterans service officers who help
veterans navigate and apply for benefits they are entitled to due to
their service to our county. These service officers provide assistance
to veterans and their dependents in preparing and submitting claims
for benefits such as health care and mental health services;
education, job training and retirement benefits to name a few. Since
the posts have been shutdown, there has been a decrease in claims for
veteran disability and pension benefits.
“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. 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,” said John G. Lowe, State Commander, Veterans
of Foreign Wars, Department of California.
Reopening posts safely will restore access to essential services upon
which California veterans and their families rely. CSCVC 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.
“We recognize and appreciate the hard work the Governor has done to
lead us during this unprecedented health crisis. At the same time, we
believe our posts provide essential services and were not intended to
be categorized in the executive order the same as bars. Our
organizations are ready and willing to work with the Governor on a
plan to safely reopen our posts for veterans soon,” said David Black,
State Commander, AMVETS, Dept. of California.
About the California State Commanders Veterans Council (CSCVC):
Founded in 1966, the California State Commanders Veterans Council is
recognized in state law as the collective voice for California’s major
veterans service organizations. CSCVC supports veterans through
advocacy efforts aimed at enhancing the rights, benefits, and
well-being of California’s 1.6 million veterans and their dependents.