AMVETS Department of Ohio officers Merle Pratt & Jim Graham present Rep. Rick Perales with “Legislator of the Year” Award
The AMVETS Department of Ohio presented its “Legislator of the Year Award” to Rep. Rick Perales (R-Beavercreek) on Saturday at its annual mid-winter conference. Representative Perales retired from the United States Air Force in 1997, his military career culminating as Commander of the 788th Civil Engineer Squadron at Wright Patterson Air Force Base.
In 2013, Representative Perales sponsored House Bill 325 which would have clarified Ohio law with regard to video forms of charitable gaming. While the bill expired in committee, AMVETS Department of Ohio wanted to recognize Representative Perales for his commitment to helping veterans’ organizations.
“AMVETS appreciates Representative Perales’ dedication to giving our posts the ability to raise funds to support their operating costs and support local charities in their communities,” said Merle Pratt, AMVETS State Legislative Chairman and Past Department Commander and board member of the Ohio Veterans and Fraternal Charitable Coalition (OVFCC). “AMVETS’ goal is to improve the quality of life for veterans, their families, and the communities where they live. Rick Perales tried to help us with this mission, and we are grateful.”
On the heels of the announcement that the OVFCC has helped raise over $12 million for local and national charities and organizations, the Columbus Dispatch tells the story about how the system is still working:
More than a year after state officials temporarily pulled the plug on video raffle machines at veterans posts and fraternal lodges, the wheels are still spinning, and money is flowing.
The Ohio Veterans and Fraternal Charitable Coalition said yesterday that video raffles have generated $12 million for a variety of Ohio charities in the past three years. The money has benefited vets groups and other charities, such as Buckeye Boys State, Special Olympics and the Wright-Patterson Airmen & Family Readiness Center, which received $100,000 for emergency financial help, employment and counseling for active-duty military families.
Hundreds of local charities throughout Ohio benefit from support
Columbus, Ohio (January 27, 2015) – The Ohio Veterans and Fraternal Charitable Coalition (OVFCC) announced this week that its video raffle program has now raised over $12 million for Ohio charities.
The funds directly benefit veterans’ posts, fraternal lodges and hundreds of local 501(c)(3) charities; fifty percent of the revenue supports the posts and lodges and fifty percent supports local 501(c)(3) charities in communities across Ohio, such as the Wright Patterson Airmen & Family Readiness Center, Buckeye Boys State, Special Olympics and hundreds of individual Ohio veterans in dire need of financial assistance for housing and supplies such as sleeping bags and boots.
As an example, the OVFCC raffle funds have helped provide well over $100,000 to the Wright Patterson Airmen & Family Readiness Center, which helps active duty families in times of need with financial crisis assistance, counseling and employment services.
“Thanks to the charitable video raffle program we are able to provide much needed assistance to members of all branches of the military active at WPAFB,” said Dan Faulkner, VFW Department of Ohio, Hospital and Homeless Veterans Chairman. “These vital funds help put food on the tables, pay funeral travel expenses, and make rent payments during financial crisis for men and women who are fighting to defend our freedom. If not for the charitable funding provided by the OVFCC organizations, I don’t know where these families could get the assistance they need. This is truly essential support.”
Each year, thousands of charitable dollars support veterans who are struggling to pay for housing and utility bills. VFW of Ohio Charities partners with organizations like National Church Residences’ Commons at Livingston to keep veterans in housing.
“The VFW organization and its members have been a valued supporter of our Commons at Livingston permanent supportive housing community for disabled and homeless veterans through cash donations, in-kind gifts, and volunteer activities,” said Jeffrey S. Wolf, Senior Vice President of Philanthropy & Communications for National Church Residences. “National Church Residences looks forward to serving more disabled and homeless veterans with the VFW’s assistance when the Commons at Garden Lake in Toledo opens the summer of 2015. In addition, the VFW has been a generous supporter of our Hospice program serving low-income clients and their families. National Church Residences is grateful for its partnership with the VFW and our efforts to transforming the lives of those we serve.”
A substantial portion of the funds raised through the OVFCC charitable video raffle helps pay the salaries of Veterans Affairs State Service Officers and Claims Benefits Representatives who are responsible for bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars each year in federal claims for Ohio veterans in need and their family members.
“Our claims benefit program is our most important initiative,” said Wayne Hutchison, the VFW State Service Officer. “The VFW Department of Ohio funds salaries for ten claims benefit representatives who are responsible for obtaining and maintaining federal funding for veterans and their dependents. This funding is vital to veterans and their families, and it is all returned directly back into Ohio’s economy. Charitable gaming plays a significant role in the VFW’s ability to both fund the program as well as improve the quality of life for veterans and dependents.”
The OVFCC is 501(c)(6) organization established in 2003 to achieve consensus and develop policy on various issues affecting veterans and fraternal organizations in the State of Ohio. Member organizations have input regarding charitable gaming as well as legislation, rules and regulations that impact veterans and fraternal organizations. The OVFCC is the voice of more than 2.1 million members and their families who are active in more than 1,700 posts and clubs throughout Ohio.
OVFCC President Bill Seagraves can be reached for further comment at (614) 222-1611
For those that don’t know, Central Ohio Stand Down is a local chapter of a national charity project geared toward fighting for homeless vets across the country. The charity puts on events around the country with the focus on providing homeless veterans – men and women alike – with necessary resources and supplies. Included are simple necessities like food, clothing and haircuts, and go as far as providing more complex services like job search information, health screenings and even legal aid.
This year’s event, held on Tuesday, October 21st had a new and very appropriate location – Huntington Park, home of the Columbus Clippers baseball team. Appropriate because in a building that emphasizes teamwork for victory, volunteers were able to come together to give “a hand up, not a hand out” to some of their own teammates most in need.
Among the many volunteers at the event were several VFW lodges, and the VFW of Ohio Charities, one of the major beneficiaries of the Ohio Veterans and Fraternal Charitable Coalition. The OVFCC is proud to work with organizations that support noble causes, and Central Ohio Stand Down is most certainly that.
The Ohio Veterans and Fraternal Charitable Coalition (OVFCC) is never surprised to hear about veteran and fraternal organizations giving back to their communities. We’ve seen it many times. And many more.And more still. The generosity of veterans and fraternal groups to not only their members, but also their communities is truly something to behold, especially in our current age of economic uncertainty.
That’s why it shouldn’t come as a shock that the Warren, Ohio VFW Post #1090 has continued this tradition of compassion by donating money to fund a funeral and military honors for a recently deceased veteran.
Russell Benson died suddenly in June, and after calls to different national organizations fell upon deaf ears, Benson’s nephew, himself a Staff Sergent in the US Army, called the VFW Post. And the VFW took up arms for one of their own.
“‘[Benson] needed help,’ said Rolla Airwyke, VFW Post 1090’s Quartermaster. A former Marine and veteran of the Vietnam war himself, Airwyke uses his position to distribute charity funds to veterans and their families in times of need…
Aiurwyke invited Benson to meet him at the post, 611 High St., and after talking with the soldier wrote him a check from the charity fund to cover half of the bill from the funeral home…”
Post 1090 is also one of many state-wide posts suffering due to recent judicial and legislative rulings with regards to charitable gaming, and the post itself, a town mainstay for 90 years, is running out of time and money, much of which was brought in by electronic charitable raffle machines that the State’s Attorney General has declared illegal.
Stories like the one above are good, and speak to just how great the support of veterans and fraternal organizations can really be. But the postscript – the AG’s decision, and a VFW Post clinging to financial life – is really the issue that should be addressed. Else those like Staff Sergeant Benson might still be on the phone trying to find a way to bury his uncle.
There are a lot of ways to gamble legally in Ohio but some people in our great state are still finding ways to do so illegally. This has always been an issue in the state, and now the Ohio Casino Control Commission is looking into over 30 places where such illegal gambling may be occurring.
Matt Schuler, executive director of the Ohio Casino Control Commission, said yesterday that his agency is investigating at least three dozen such locations. He said there could be hundreds more in storefronts and strip malls around the state. They are not limited to large urban areas; many thrive in smaller cities and towns…
Skill games have been around for many years. They are supposed to be based on the player’s skills, unlike slot machines, which are based on chance. Skill games faded out as Internet cafes proliferated but had a resurgence when DeWine and state lawmakers cracked down on the cafes in the past two years.
Crackdowns on illicit gambling isn’t new, at least by the Ohio Attorney General’s definition of what constitutes a skill game versus a game of chance. The AG’s crack down on these other, very illegal operations is wholly supported by the Ohio Veterans and Fraternal Charitable Coalition, an organization focusing on raising money for charities, not for owners of illegal businesses.
The Ohio Veterans and Fraternal Charitable Coalition (OVFCC) applaud Congress and President Obama for passing, and signing, the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014. This legislation addresses issues that are important to the care of our veterans and their families both in Ohio and across the United States. The act addresses many of the veteran’s issues that the OVFCC has worked tirelessly to address though charitable initiatives. These issues include equality, education, health and safety, and quality of life.
Specifically the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014 will provide the following benefits:
Sexual Assault, Harassment, and Incompetent Senior Officials
The legislation would improve the delivery of care for veterans who experienced sexual trauma while serving in the military. In addition, the VA secretary would be given the authority to immediately remove incompetent senior executives based on poor job performance or misconduct such as sexual harassment. An expedited appeals process through the Merit Systems Protection Board would prevent political firings or other abuses of the new personnel power, such as retaliation against whistle blowers.
Bolster VA Staffing
The legislation would provide the VA funds to hire additional primary and specialty health care providers along with other clinical staff to increase the department’s capacity to provide high-quality health care to our nation’s veterans. The measure also would provide enhanced incentives to attract more doctors and nurses and other health care professionals to the VA. The VA’s Access to Care Audit found that the need for additional doctors, nurses and other medical providers was the highest barrier or challenge to access to care.
Add Space for Veterans Care
The VA’s physical infrastructure plays a significant role in its ability to provide timely, quality care to veterans in a safe environment. The legislation would provide funds to enter emergency leases for facilities that would directly improve veterans’ access to care.
Authorize New Clinics
The legislation would authorize VA to enter into 27 major medical facility leases in 18 states and Puerto Rico. In many instances, these leases would improve access to care closer to veterans’ homes and increase the availability of specialty-care services in these locations.
Veterans Choice Card
The legislation would allow veterans who have had to wait more than 30 days for an appointment with the VA to seek care from a private physician, a community health center, a Department of Defense health care facility or an Indian Health Center. Veterans who live more than 40 miles from a VA facility also would be eligible for this program.
The legislation would expand the Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship to include surviving spouses of members of the Armed Forces who die in the line of duty while serving on active duty.
In-State Tuition for Post-9/11 GI Bill
The legislation would let veterans eligible for education benefits under the Post 9/11 GI qualify for in-state tuition.
The bill would extend a program about to expire which provides housing for veterans struggling with traumatic brain injuries.