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.