SAN ANTONIO – The commander of a San Antonio VFW post expressed frustration over Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision Thursday to keep bars closed.
VFW posts across the state have been closed since late June when Abbott issued an order that shuttered bars and other establishments that receive more than 51% of their gross receipts from alcohol sales, which the VFW does.
During a Labor Day protest at VFW Post 8541 on Austin Highway, dozens of veterans said the posts are essential and play an important part in their everyday lives.
The post’s commander, William Smith, said the VFW has sent letters, made calls and reached out to local and state leaders, but apparently to no avail as Abbott said Thursday that bars must remain closed.
“Listening to the governor’s press conference (Thursday) frustrated me beyond belief, and I believe that sentiment resonates with most all VFW Members in the state of Texas,” Smith said in an open letter to the media. “That sunken feeling of having the air knocked out of you washed over me when we were told again we cannot open to serve those that depend on us.”
Smith said VFW posts are more than just a bar. He said the VFW helps pay for funerals for members, fight for veterans rights and benefits and donate millions of dollars to local communities.
“And if we were just a bar, would we have risked our lives to protect this great nation?” the letter said.
Smith said VFW posts can’t be expected to “jump through hoops" by suspending their liquor license, or buy a restaurant license or have a food truck, saying doing those things “is just salt in the wound.”
Smith said Abbott’s decision has brought back the image that the posts are just “a smoke-filled bar.”
He ended the letter by saying that if Abbott will not sit down and talk with VFW leaders, then he should allow them to reopen posts “so that we can return to taking care of our own.”
You can read the letter below: