To the Editor:
Many veterans’ organizations in New Jersey, like local American Legion posts, are living from fundraiser to fundraiser, with little extra cash put away for a rainy day. So if a fire or hurricane destroys a local post’s building, reconstructing it can be insurmountable. With many of these structures 50 to 60 years old, even paying for upkeep can be a challenge. Simply replacing an air-conditioning unit can cost $10,000. The challenges of insufficient funds could cause some of these organizations to fold, taking away from the community a vital partner, supporter, and community center.
To aid these organizations, voters will be asked to approve a constitutional amendment on Nov. 5 in a public question, which will allow veterans’ organizations to use the net proceeds from games of chance to give them greater financial flexibility to pay their bills. The legislation enabling the change, S-87, requires the approval of a constitutional amendment, proposed in SCR-11, to become effective. Approval of the constitutional amendment will not increase taxes.
Veterans’ associations sponsor Boy and Girl Scout troops; send local students to Boys and Girls State; enhance education in schools with a patriotic coloring contest, safety essay contest, and an oratorical contest on the Constitution; and support Hiring Our Heroes job fairs, events at veterans’ homes, and aid local veterans or our troops.
“This is a vital piece of legislation for the viability of many of our veterans’ posts,” said Jim Amos, state commander of the American Legion, Department of New Jersey. “The closure of a post would have a rippling negative effect throughout the community with the loss of programs, services and events provided by the American Legion that residents have come to expect. We ask the citizens of New Jersey to support us by voting yes on Public Question No. 1.”
The Bayonne American Legion Post 19 supports the local American Legion Riders; conducts Memorial Day, Veterans’ Day and a 9/11 remembrance ceremony yearly in town; provides food donations to local homeless shelters; supports Boy Scouts flag retirement ceremonies; and sends shipments of food and supplies to deployed troops overseas. Approval of this ballot measure could assist the post in its current activities, in implementing new programs beneficial to the community.
Under current law, veterans’ organizations are required to dedicate the proceeds they raise from games of chance to educational, charitable, patriotic, religious or public-spirited uses. This legislation expands the permitted use of those proceeds collected from games of chance to include directly supporting the costs of the organization, including increased costs for maintenance, electric, gas, oil and other utilities, which senior citizens groups currently have.
Member, American Legion Bayonne Post 19