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. of California.
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.