Open Letter to Governor Tim Walz,
Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) is the oldest combat veterans organization and was established in 1899. The Department of Minnesota VFW has 212 posts consisting of over 33,000 members. As the Minnesota VFW State Commander, I am asking you to reconsider your decision to keep our posts closed. The VFW's, those with and those without post homes, are pillars of the community and are essential in getting our veterans the help they need. The VFW is a Congressionally Chartered organization and our post homes are private clubs. We are here to help all Veterans and members within our communities.
The VFW’s need to be open now. The posts are the place that veterans get their information, help getting to appointments, meeting with other members that are going through the same issues they are, and a place for them to feel safe. As of today, the suicide rate has gone up to 26 veterans per day nationally. It is a travesty. The facts are that the lock down has caused irreversible damage to the majority of Minnesotans. You have single handedly decided who opens and who does not. Is a candy store more important than a veteran? We say no and we stand with the restaurant, bar, and hospitality industry. These big box stores have had hundreds of people constantly walking through their store every day, with and without masks, for the last few months and they have not spread this virus. Allow us to open our posts to our members because only we know what our veterans are going through.
There are over 370,000 Veterans and 9 Veterans service organizations that call Minnesota home. We need to know that you are taking care of our veterans throughout Minnesota. With a large majority of the deaths in this state from Covid-19 appearing to occur in long-term health care, what are you doing to protect our veterans in the Veterans hospitals and the Veterans homes? We would like to know how many of our Minnesota veterans have died from Covid-19 while being treated in these facilities. Because you, the Governor, closed all non-essential business in March, do you plan to alleviate the property tax burden and any other tax the posts would have to pay when they cannot generate revenue to pay them?
I would ask you Governor Walz to respond to how and when VFW posts can resume business. If you are not going to respond or allow our posts to open, I believe the VFW’s will start opening on their own and there is nothing I can do about it. They know how to operate in a safe manner, they know how to police themselves and they have done so for over 121 years.
If Home Depots, Menards, Walmarts, a Candy store, liquor stores, Malls and other stores can be open for business as usual, I cannot see the reason why a VFW cannot have their meetings or open their posts to their members to help the very people that served our country and deserve our assistance and respect.
Thank you for your time,
Veterans of Foreign Wars MN State Commander