BRENTWOOD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — When we pay respect to generations of U.S. veterans on Saturday, some on Long Island will be grateful for much-needed repairs to their unusable kitchen.
CBS2’s Jessica Layton was on hand for lunch time inside the Brentwood VFW post in Suffolk County.
The problem is, anytime the post’s members want something cooked they have to call a caterer or bring it from home.
“We are in need of repair of our facilities,” Commander Sabrina Lacey said.
Lacey was talking about the hall’s kitchen.
The decades-old stove and refrigerators broke down long ago, and the crumbling roof leaks badly when it rains.
The aging veterans who use the hall said they simply can’t afford the needed repairs.
Now, they’re getting a big helping hand from the retired NYPD officer.
“We’re going to buy refrigerators, a stove, we’re going to buy plates, we’re going to buy utensils,” retired NYPD officer Sean Acosta said.
Acosta said he owes his freedom to the veterans who fought the country’s battles, but his charitable gift doesn’t cover the bigger problem for veterans halls. Since 1990, membership has dropped by more than a million.
In the last year, five VFW halls have shut down in Suffolk County including one in Bay Shore.
Local lawmakers want the state to help out by changing the law about who can receive municipal grant money.
“They can only be given to towns, villages, fire departments, ambulance crews, but not the veterans halls,” State Senator Phil Boyle said.
Senator Boyle said if the legislation is passed it could mean millions of dollars for the struggling clubs. The measure was introduced several years ago and has already passed the state Senate twice. It has yet to pass in the assembly.
Veterans fear more halls will close as they struggle to boost membership and the hall’s sagging image.
“I use this hall all the time, so I’m hoping we can get the new veterans as well as the old to join our family,” retired Marine Jeremiah Simpson said.
Whether they’ll get the help in the form of taxpayer funds will be decided when state lawmakers return to Albany.