Delaware organizations restricted from helping vets
In a letter dated Oct. 22, 2012, and apparently mailed after the election of Nov. 7, 2012 to all veteran and other nonprofit organizations in Delaware over the signatures of Col. Robert M. Coupe, superintendent, Delaware State Police, and Chief John A Yeomans, director , Alcohol & Tobacco Enforcement, it was pointed out that anyone engaged in permitting “gambling devices” on their premises are in legal jeopardy. They go on to describe these devices and further point out that both administrative penalties, criminal prosecution, as well as loss of liquor license could result.
We immediately complied with the notice that these devices be shut down.
While these gambling devices described are located in many or nearly all the veterans clubs, and in many cases have been for 18 years or so, the income produced as a result of having these video gaming machines have been a major source of revenue for our clubs.
This revenue is not only used to operate our clubs for the enjoyment of our fellow veterans, it is also used to fund many very worthwhile veterans and other community needs. As a nonprofit, we donate thousands of dollars yearly to fulfill needs of our wartime and other veterans, as well as local community needs.
As an example, we have donated to the city of Rehoboth Beach large tire wheelchairs to allow beach access to those who would otherwise be denied that opportunity. We have paid rent for veterans in danger of being homeless, provided funds to feed and entertain our wounded heroes at Walter Reed and other medical facilities, contributed to Warrior Weekend, a project that enables some of our wounded warriors to spend time at a weekend retreat with their families at the beach. These are but a few of the many things we donate to regularly.
Our existence enables us to go about these worthwhile endeavors. The removal of these video lottery devices as a source of income has threatened our existence and required that all donations immediately stop, as we are left without adequate funds to even meet our daily expenses. We have had to reduce the income of all of our employees by more than half, and are in danger of closing the doors to our club. This would add to the already high unemployment rolls. This would also have the effect of denying our wartime veterans a place to meet. The longer these machines are off, the longer we are unable to help those in need.
While many have vowed to do so, I hope that our legislators make this issue a top priority in the upcoming session. It is painful for us to have to deny help to those who at one time in their lives wrote a blank check to our government for anything up to, and including, their life to protect the freedoms we all enjoy in this nation.
For God and country.
H. T. “Buddy” Clark III
Henlopen Post 5 American Legion