Oakland County officials delivered an early Christmas gift Friday, in the form of a $20,000 grant check for the Groves-Walker American Legion Post #346 in Farmington.
Post Commander Marya Davis said funds will go toward utility payments and payroll, and to purchase a structure that will allow veterans to gather outdoors. State executive and health orders have closed the hall on Grand River to indoor dining and facility rentals, slashing revenues.
Since September, Post members have been fundraising through a GoFundMe campaign and Queen of Hearts raffle. Davis said veterans are often uncomfortable asking for help and need to interact with others who have had military experience.
“These folks need the camaraderie of similar minded people,” she said. “It’s absolutely essential that we can create a safe space for them to come, so we can still bring them together.”
County reaches out to vets
Oakland County Deputy Executive Sean Carlson, a U.S. Air Force veteran, said the grant funds came through the federal CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act. Officials have distributed about $90 million to small businesses and nonprofits.
“We wanted to make sure we were taking care of veterans as well,” he said. “They are a very important part of our community.”
Oakland County Executive David Coulter said veterans have needs that are different from those of other citizens, and the county has been “aggressively reaching out” to them.
“You would be struck by how many challenges they are facing because of this,” he said. “We know that if you want to help veterans, working with the service organizations that know them the best and know their needs is the way to go.”
Carlson said $550,000 has been distributed among 31 veterans’ organizations, and more than $750,000 has gone to veterans themselves, with grants of up to $2,500 helping them through hardships caused by COVID-19. The individual checks went out Friday to more than 500 veterans.
Coulter added that, while the Board of Commissioners is split politically, votes to allocate the CARES Act funds to residents in need have been unanimous,