Manchester VFW posts fights to survive without poker cash
Many of the patrons at the post’s canteen have been Vietnam War veterans, as was the previous commander, Gary Reid.
Haugh sought a refund of the fees, and that’s how the issue came before the aldermen’s Committee on Administration on Monday.
“I’m a veteran, and I sympathize,” Ward 7 Alderman William Shea said. “The problem is, if we do it for you, we have to do it for someone else.”
“He’s trying to keep the post alive,” Alderman-At-Large Dan O’Neil said. “We have some kind of obligation to the vets.”
“I assumed he wanted to run things the way they always did,” he said.
Reid said the video poker machines had been there for decades and were a source of revenue that funded the wider mission of the VFW in assisting veterans.
How much money?
Just how much revenue was generated by the machines is not clear. Gambling, of course, is illegal in the state, and Reid and others were hazy about how any winnings from the machines were redeemed.
This is part of the reason Haugh sought to remove the machines, which are now off the premises.
A new generation
In targeting the machines, Haugh’s larger goal is to make the atmosphere at the post’s canteen more accommodating to a new generation of veterans.
Haugh retired from the Army as a sergeant in the late 1980s. He joined the VFW when he was living in Thailand, where he lived for nine years with his wife.
“We wiped the cigarette stains from the walls, pulled money out of our pockets to change the stained ceiling tiles,” he said, adding, “We’ve got a lot more work to do.”
“The guy before me ran it into the ground,” he said.
As for the new leadership of the post, Reid said he’s happy to let it be someone else’s responsibility.
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