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Collins unveils proposed REVAMP Act to benefit VFW Posts, halls

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

They provide a place for veterans to gather and bond, for members of the community to host social events and for private groups to celebrate special occasions such as wedding receptions. A bill introduced by a local Congressman aims to provide federal grants that would help veterans' posts and halls keep up with maintenance and needed repairs.

Chris Collins (R, NY-27) was at the Hamburg Lakeshore Overseas Veterans Post 1419 to explain his bill, known as the REVAMP Act. 

"It's a piece of legislation that I've introduced in the House that would allow VFW Posts to apply for, on a competitive basis, community block development grants up to $200,000," said Collins.

That money could help posts and veterans' halls pay for capital projects. Collins says the conditions of area halls vary, with some in critical need of repairs. In some cases, he pointed out, facilities such as kitchens within the halls have had to close due to roof damage.

The situation was not as dire at Post 1419 but officers there say they do need to fix some things while pursue some community-minded projects.

"We're not falling apart here, although we did get some insurance money for leaks in the roof," said Vice Commander Russ Deveso. "Our parking lot is falling apart ... and it's more than we can handle."

What this particular post would also like to do is finish a capital project that would result in a museum on the grounds to educate many of the younger members of the community to whom the veterans reach out, such as scouts. 

When telling his own personal tale about coming home from Vietnam, Deveso often paused and appeared to hold back tears.

"Vietnam veterans we are. There's a whole bunch of us," he said. "When we went to war, we didn't know why we were there. We came back, and we weren't appreciated. We decided about 20 years ago - after we decided to tackle our stresses, as we got together finally - that in order to change the country's face, in order to make a difference to veterans, we had to educate."

Collins said the REVAMP Act uses money that already exists and simply makes veterans eligible for those dollars.

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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