PANORAMA CITY (KABC) -- As we salute the men and women who have served in the military on this Veterans Day, one group that's honored vets for more than a century is facing some very tough times.
On a normal Veterans Day, this American Legion post in Panorama City would be filled with Veterans and their families enjoying the holiday. Like many other posts, it's now empty... closed for over eight months because of the pandemic. Andy Robledo has been a member of this post for 16 years.
"We have our WWII vets in their 90's now. Korean War vets are in their 80's, and most of the Vietnam vets are in their 70's. They're getting older and we miss them a lot," said Robledo. "And we just can't wait to be able to see them again. We give them hugs, that's what we usually do... and we don't know how much longer we have with them."
"I feel a connection to what our fathers and family members have died to protect. And couldn't more American than honoring these people," said Erik Rettebal.
Because of the Purple Tier Los Angeles County is in, the 17 American Legion posts in the county cannot open, which means they can't raise money to pay their bills: Pancake breakfasts, Friday night dinners, leasing their facility out for special occasions- that's how they usually raise money to keep their doors open.
"Elks, Moose lodge, American legion, VFW, we're all in the same boat together," said Post Commander Jere Romano. "And each one of these facilities still need electricity, upkeep, pay their taxes; so even though we're closed costs are still rising. And those costs need to be addressed. And if they're not addressed, that a lot of these facilities will need to sell their buildings."
The posts are asking Los Angeles County to list them as essential so they can at least open up to 25 percent capacity. One Veteran told me these posts are their second home. This is where they can go to be with others who understand what they've been through.
"These posts allow our veterans to sit down with like members. They don't even have to talk. They can sit in a corner and be silent and feel enveloped. We become a family here," said Ellen Mitchell, American Legion Post Commander U.S. Army Veteran.
The bottom line is this: if these posts aren't allowed to open up, their doors could be closed permanently.
American Legion Posts remain closed due to COVID, posing problems for Veterans around Southern California
Because of the Purple Tier Los Angeles County is in, the 17 American Legion posts in the county cannot open, which means they can't raise money to pay their bills.