Congressmen Tim Bishop (D-NY) and Jon Runyan (R-NJ) have introduced the Renovate and Enhance Veterans' Meeting Halls and Posts (REVAMP) Act of 2012, bipartisan legislation to provide America's veterans organizations with resources to make necessary repairs to their meeting halls and facilities.
Across America, the meeting halls and posts of Veterans Service Organizations such as the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars serve as unofficial community centers. Unfortunately, many of these facilities have deteriorated in recent years due to declining membership and reduced rental revenues as a result of the economic downturn.
Filed in the House of Representatives last Friday, The REVAMP Act would create a competitive grant program with awards of up to $200,000 for veterans' organizations, classified by the IRS as 501c19 non-profit organizations and comprised primarily of past or present members of the United States Armed Forces and their family members, to use for repairs and improvements to their existing facilities. The REVAMP Act is deficit neutral because it creates a pool of $50 million each year for competitively-awarded grants to veterans organizations out of existing Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program funding, which totaled nearly $3 billion in 2012.
"This bipartisan legislation will honor veterans for their service to our nation, and to our communities through service organizations when they return home," said Congressman Bishop. "It's important to recognize and support the vital role these organizations and their facilities serve in communities large and small across America."
Congressman Runyan said: "I am honored to have joined with my colleague Tim Bishop in introducing this important piece of legislation. As a member of the House Veterans Affairs and Armed Services Committees, I am keenly aware of the importance veterans' service organizations play in helping our nation's veterans. New Jersey's 3rd district has a large number of veterans and their families, many of whom rely upon these facilities. It is imperative that the federal government does all it can to ensure that these organizations are able to perform their duties."
Bishop successfully secured federal funding through the CDBG program of $200,000 for the VFW Post in Rocky Point in 2009, and $150,000 for the Centereach VFW Post in 2008. Recognizing the positive impact these grants had on local communities, Bishop authored the original version of the REVAMP Act in 2010 to create a dedicated stream of funding for veterans organizations to improve their facilities. Under the version of the bill introduced today, local posts or chapters receiving funding would become ineligible for an additional award for five fiscal years to ensure that other deserving veterans halls across the country have an opportunity to compete for funding.