VFW posts struggle to help veterans as their bars remain closed

Published: Sep. 18, 2020 at 9:25 PM CDT
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Veterans of Foreign Wars posts all over West Texas heard disappointing news this week.

After months of staying closed, they still can’t open up and provide services for veterans.

Any one of the VFW bars would usually generate $200 or more a day. That money would be used to help veterans with whatever they need.

“Some of them medical, some of them transportation to the hospitals, breakdowns at home,” VFW Post 7208 Commander Robert Thames said. “That sort of thing.”

But they can’t do that without customers.

Because the governor’s orders have kept their doors closed, the VFW post’s funds have dried up.

“I wouldn’t say it’s serious,” Thames said. “But it’s headed in that direction.”

The VFW can’t offer those same services for now.

Of course, what veterans need isn’t as important as who they need, each other.

“We’ve got each other’s backs,” VFW Post 7208 Member Carl Raymond said. “Without this, without that connection, we feel isolated, we feel alone. We feel like no one understands.”

Raymond said combat veterans returning to civilian life already face an uphill battle.

Now, without a community to lean on, they’re fighting alone.

“They sit at home and they sit there with their thoughts and then they pick up that weapon, that firearm, whatever and they take their own lives,” Raymond said.

Raymond pointed out that veterans struggling with mental health problems often don’t ask for help, so the VFW needs to be here to reach out to them.

“When this phone rings it rings and rings and rings,” Raymond said. “Nobody answers it. Eventually, if we quit answering the phone long enough, then there won’t be anyone calling.”

Governor Abbott hasn’t given bars any timeline on when they can open again but he said he wants to work with them to find a way.

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