“The fact that we are treated as a bar is hurting the mission of the VFW,” said Stephen Biehl, Texas VFW District 4 commander. “We are a canteen in our post home. We're not a bar, and having us classified as that prevents us from accomplishing these other vital services that we provide to the community.”
Like many VFW chambers, VFW Post 2427 serves as a local gathering place for veterans in the Tomball area, Biehl said.
“It's become a center where veterans from this community can come to get away from daily life to interact and meet up with veterans who have experienced similar things in their past,” he said. “[The center provides] respite from what can be sometimes an almost unfamiliar space in the world, ... [but] that has been removed as well because, again, our doors are shut, and we can't meet up and have that camaraderie ... with each other.”
According to Post 2427 Quartermaster Fred Kelly, the organization has found itself in a tight spot following a slew of event cancellations ranging from weddings to fundraisers after closing the facility. Services geared towards veterans have also come to a pause, such as the “Dog Tag Drummers” recreational drummers circle as well as individual and family therapy services offered by the chamber.
“We haven't had any entertainment [events], no bands, dances, anything, because we're essentially dead in the water,” Kelly said.
With the facility closed, Biehl said veterans in need of more immediate assistance might have a harder time contacting the organization.
“Now, [veterans] have to find another avenue to be able to reach out ... for us to be able to help their situation,” Biehl said. “We're available online, ... but if we have a transient [veteran] or a veteran who's in danger of losing their home, ... they're probably not going to be looking online.”
In addition to being a service provider and place of refuge for the community's veteran population, Biehl said, the organization also supports the community's youth through scholarships.
“Scholarship programs and stuff–we can do that without having to open the hall, ... but how can I, as a post, provide a scholarship to high school students ... if I don't have funds coming in to be able to fund those scholarships?” Biehl said.
Additionally, Post 2427 Commander Sean Ellis said the post's closing and consequential event cancellations have greatly reduced revenue for the post, which has since had to tap into its savings to manage monthly expenses and maintain the facility.
“[We are] probably 90 days, maybe 120 days, between that savings now running out, so we're really trying to look at the community and say, ‘If you have your opportunity to make a donation, we will definitely take it at this point,” Ellis said.
In addition to taking donations and participating in joint fundraising events with other community organizations, such as the Tomball Rotary Club, Biehl said the organization hopes to soon reopen amid the ongoing pandemic-related closures.
“Until restrictions are lifted, then the types of events and the number of events that we could host, that would even be interested in coming to us to be hosted, are going to be diminished as well.”
The Tomball VFW Post 2427 is currently accepting donations here.