Neighborhood American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) posts in the Town of Islip may receive federal funds for improvements, Congressman Steve Israel announced at a press conference in Bay Shore on Tuesday.
The $500,00 federal funds will provide restoration and renovation for 12 posts in the town as Israel and town officials such as Town of Islip Councilman Gene Parrington feel it's important that these posts located within the town receive the repairs so that they continue to be comfortable meeting places for veterans and a resource for the communities.
"We owe it to [the veterans] to create a country fit for heroes to return to," said Israel. "I don't want a single veteran to come back to dilapidated roofs on posts."
Parrington, himself a Vietnam veteran, said that posts have been neglected over the years and allowed to deteriorate so the federal funding will help to renovate the meeting halls. "The VFW and American Legion halls are important to our local veterans and soldiers. This funding will benefit our veterans as well as the entire community," he said.
Israel acknowledged that debts and deficits in the federal budget have to be lowered, but believes that funds going toward the renovation of veteran posts is money well spent. "When we called our service men and women [to action], they didn't say, 'We can't afford it.' They went," he said. "There is no priority higher in America than our veterans."
The press conference announcing the funding took place at the VFW Post 8357 in Bay Shore since that post in greatly in need of renovation. Frank J. Ciulla, past commander of the American Legion Smith-Weber Post #651 on Foster Avenue in Sayville, was at the press conference to support the funding for fellow veterans. "I think it's a great thing. It's due time. Our heroes come back and we need a place for these heroes to come back to a feel comfortable," he said.
According to Ciulla, Israel secured a grant about two years ago to renovate the American Legion Post #651. "Our post is under renovations right now. We need some more items. Specifically, we would like to get a dual fuel generator so we can make that post available to anybody during any type of event," said Ciulla, adding that the post can be used by the community in case of an emergency.
According to Israel, the funding passed the House of Representatives and needs to pass the Senate before it is signed by the President. He hopes that the funds will be available early next spring.