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A year after the epidemic, veterans’ halls were “barely hanging”

NEW BEDFORD, Massachusetts. (AP) – Paul Gilbow knew the sign was on a wall on the last post of “Foreign War Veterans” in the city south of Boston when Massachusetts companies ordered it shut down after a coronavirus outbreak last March.

In six months, the 90-year-old Korean War veterinarian proved to be right. The New Bedford VFW Post 3260, part of the National Brotherhood of War Veterinarians, founded in 1935, handed over its charter to sell the hall to the church.

“The economic downturn has killed us,” said Gilbole, who has overseen the post’s finances for years. “There is no way in the world we can achieve that. Many of these messages do not depend. Most do not make huge profits. “

Local bars and lounges run by VFW և American Legion messages. The mainstays of the community, where veterinarians mix beers, և people celebrate weddings և other havens, were already struggling when the epidemic broke out. After years of being denied membership, restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 have been a deadly blow to many.

The closures have exacerbated the tragedy of the epidemic, which has hit military veterans hard. The US Department of Veterans Affairs recently estimated that the death toll in its facilities alone was close to 11,000.

In many states, veterans’ offices were ordered to close last spring, as were other bars and event halls. Proponents argued that the areas served a greater community purpose than their profit-seeking counterparts; they should have been allowed to reopen sooner.

They say many of the messages quickly focused on their community service efforts to respond to the epidemic. In Lectue, Michigan, VFW Post 3701 has developed hundreds of masks for employees և Running blood carriers through the Red Cross. In Queens, New York, the American Legion Post 483 ran a food pantry that fed thousands of people. And reports from Connecticut to North Carolina are hosting vaccine carriers and clinics.

The closure of some halls’s bars means that veterinarians dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder have lost other wartime injuries amid an outbreak of isolation in a safe area, officials say.

“They can talk here about things that happened to them during the war that they would never have told their psychiatrist or even their family,” said Harold Door, commander of the American Legion Post 1 in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Like a number of nationwide reports, Durn says his facility was eligible for federal, local epidemiological assistance, although most of it could only be used to cover staff salaries, not utilities or other expenses.

He says the closed pit, which includes a bar, relied heavily on donations to pay for monthly expenses.

“We had a rough time,” said Navy, a 75-year-old veterinarian who served in the Vietnam War. “But we must remain open. We have been around for 100 years. There is no way we can allow it to close. “

It is difficult to quantify how many veterinary salons և bars that are permanently closed or closed due to an epidemic.

VFW ազգային National Legion of America states that the number of positions completely dissolved last year was lower than in previous years. But the organizations say they do not go back to the bars and halls because they are controlled locally.

They say many posts do not operate halls or bars. However, both organizations launched emergency grants last fall, providing thousands of dollars in hundreds of jobs to cover the institution’s other costs.

“It is possible for a position to lose these items և to remain as a position,” said John von Rother, a spokesman for the American Legion based in Indianapolis.

Some institutions have found ways to raise money for ongoing community work, ranging from free lunches for disabled veterans to sponsoring high school ROTC programs to offering free meeting places for Scout troops and other groups.

Members of VFW Post 2718 in Long Island, New York, were immersed in the reserves, organizing fundraisers until they could completely reopen their salon. Their next effort is to sell plants for the first time on Mother’s Day, says former commander John on McManaman.

The New Bedford post in Massachusetts is the only one that has been scrapped due to the epidemic, but the state risks losing about 20% of its VFW buildings if they have to stay closed during the busy summer months, said Bill LeBon, VFW Massachusetts CEO , which oversees local positions.

The closure of VFW Post 3260, a historic fishing port town 97 miles from Boston, was a bittersweet sweet for former members.

Dennis Pelletier, a 75-year-old Marine who served in Vietnam, hosted his wedding reception in the hall in the opening year of 1967. He has been paying a membership fee ever since.

“It was a part of my whole adult life,” said Pelletier. “At times it was the second house.”

But like VFW records across the country, New Bedford Hall was struggling to recruit new members. In the 60s it had more than 1000 paying members; Last year it had about 100, most of them in the 70s and 80s.

“It’s just hard to break the bar of being just a bar,” said Delfino Garcia, the last commander in office. “Younger veterans want something different. You need to be more family oriented. You need to make it more hospitable. “VFWs are struggling to adjust to this new reality.”

Gilbow, who joined the post after serving in the Air Force in 1956, has no regrets about settling matters.

Along with the addition of mortgage payments and other bills, he has invested more than $ 5,000 in his savings in recent days. He eventually reimbursed the money when the building was finally sold in September and the rest of the proceeds went to the state VFW.

“In a way, it was a blessing to leave it,” Gilbo said. “If we kept going, we would still be closed. There was no point in keeping it open. We were just doing debt, debt, debt, debt. ”

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