The kitchen at the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Brentwood, where volunteers once prepared snacks for membership meetings and meals for delivery to old-timers, will get a complete renovation thanks to a businessman who wants to see veterans thrive.
“Veterans who come home from war need a place to relax,” said Sean Acosta, an Oyster Bay tax-reduction consultant, who promised to pay for the restoration of the cook space at VFW Post 6431. “Right now, these guys don’t even have a place to cook.”
Sabrina Lacy, the post commander, thanked Acosta Thursday at a gathering of lawmakers and well-wishers at the post’s clubhouse. She said renovations are expected to cost about $20,000 and could start as early as next week.
Referencing the phrase “an army marches on its stomach,” Lacy said veterans posts depend on their ability to offer food to keep members coming back. “Kitchens run posts,” she said.
Right now, the post’s refrigerators don’t cool, the sink leaks, the stove doesn’t work and the kitchen ceiling is in disrepair. Lacy said having a functioning food prep area will help assure the post’s future by helping draw new members and holding on to existing ones.
The post, a low white building just north of the Southern State Parkway, has welcomed former soldiers since 1956.
Veterans halls, which sprang up on Long Island in great numbers following World War II, have increasingly fallen into disrepair, as many of their members have become too old to help with the upkeep.
State Sen. Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore), who attended the gathering along with Assemb. Christine Pellegrino (D-Massapequa Park), said a bill that would make veterans posts eligible for repair dollars via state “municipal facilities” grants passed 62-1 in the state Senate last spring. Pellegrino said she will advocate in the Assembly for a similar bill.
Pellegrino said preserving places where veterans can gather and, if needed, help one another deal with their often unsettling military experiences is vital.
“This is the most important thing we can do for veterans today,” she said.
Jeremiah Simpson, 62, a Vietnam veteran living in Central Islip, said the Brentwood post is a refuge where he can advise other members about veterans benefits or other services.
“This place is a tool for me to reach other veterans who don’t have hope,” said Simpson, a Marine Corps veteran who said he did not feel entirely welcome when he returned home after the war. “This place is my way of giving back.”