WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representative Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) joined Representative Andrew R. Garbarino (NY-02) to announce the introduction of the VSO Support Act of 2022. This legislation marks new efforts to save veterans halls, American Legions, and VFW Posts who have been plagued by COVID-19 hardship.

Veterans halls across the region have been threatened with closure due to decreased enrollment, cancellation of hall events, and other pandemic-related financial hardship. The VSO Support Act of 2022 would create an SBA-styled grant program to address the needs of VSOs as they fight to keep their facilities open. Specifically, this bill would:

  • Establish a $25 million grant program through the VA that allows VSOs to apply for grants of up to $50,000 to keep their facilities open and operational for the community.
  • Make eligible VSOs which have experienced a 50% or greater loss in gross revenue collected between 4/1/20-12/31/20 compared to the same period in 2019. Grant funding may be used for the following:
    • Rent
    • Utilities
    • Scheduled Mortgage Payments
    • Scheduled Debt Payments
    • Other ordinary business expenses, such as maintenance, administrative costs, state and local taxes, insurance payments, and operating leases
  • Allow VSOs to submit plans demonstrating the need for funding as well as the use of such funds to the VA Secretary, who would then prioritize grant allocation based on need.

“VSOs provide invaluable assistance and services to veterans, retirees, and their family members. Just as many small businesses and nonprofits across the country took a financial blow during the pandemic, our VSOs are struggling to meet the demand for critical veteran services in their communities due to a significant loss in revenue,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick. “We cannot let our veterans slip through the cracks. We must uphold our commitment to our nation’s heroes by ensuring that VSOs are in a position to reach as many veterans as possible.”

"It is absolutely critical that we ensure veterans halls, American legions, VFW Posts, and other Veteran Service Organizations remain open to provide services for our veteran community," said Rep. Garbarino. "An estimated 40 to 60 VFWs and American Legion Halls have shut down in Suffolk and Nassau County alone since the beginning of the pandemic – leaving many of the over 100,000 Long Island veterans and their families with reduced access to crucial support services offered by VSOs. We will keep working on this together – across local, state, and federal government – until all VSOs on Long Island are back on their feet and fully operational for our veteran community."

The VSO Support Act of 2022 is endorsed nationally by AMVETS and The American Legion.

Original cosponsors of the bill include Representatives Ritchie Torres (D-NY-15), Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY-11), David McKinley (R-WV-01), and Joseph Morelle (D-NY-25). Additional cosponsors include Representatives Dave Joyce (R-OH-14), Rick Larsen (D-WA-02), and Andy Harris (R-MD-01).

“The pandemic has exacerbated the issues impacting the men and women who served our country honorably, including a rise in veteran homelessness and inadequate health care services. This has made the work of VSOs more indispensable than ever, but unfortunately they lack the resources to provide adequate social services. The VSO Support Act of 2022 would provide these crucial organizations with support and funding to remain operational and to meet the needs of veterans. I’m proud to partner with Rep. Garbarino on this important bipartisan bill, and we will continue to spotlight the great work VSOs do to help veterans across the country live with dignity,” said Rep. Torres.  

Read the text of the bill here.