Golden Pushes SBA to Support Struggling Veterans Service Organizations

July 13, 2020
Press Release
Many VFWs, American Legion Halls, and other VSOs are reeling as bingo nights, facility rentals, and karaoke are cancelled due to COVID-19

Relying on volunteers rather than employees, many VSOs can only receive $1,000 from disaster relief program

WASHINGTON — Congressman Jared Golden (ME-02) called on the Small Business Administration (SBA) to make changes to the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) advance grant program to allow Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs) and other volunteer-dependent non-profits to apply for additional economic assistance. Many VSOs have been cut off from their main sources of revenue since the pandemic began and are now struggling to pay bills, perform maintenance, and keep their posts operational. 

Current rules allow nonprofits to receive up to $10,000 in advance grant funding depending on the number of employees. However, VSOs, which are largely run by volunteers, rarely qualify for more than $1,000 under the current SBA rules. For many VSOs, a $1,000 advance grant pales in comparison to the revenue losses they are experiencing. For example, in Caribou, the VFW post has lost $20,000 of revenue so far this year. 

“Local posts of these VSOs provide critical services for our communities’ veterans, including personal assistance, donated goods, disaster relief, volunteerism, networking, advocacy and much more,” Golden wrote. “Staffed largely by volunteers, these posts generate revenue streams from activities that necessitate in-person involvement such as bingo, social functions and facility rentals. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has made such events extremely difficult.”

During several of the tele-town halls Golden has held to hear from Mainers since the pandemic began, the congressman heard from members of several American Legion Halls in the state about the challenges their organizations were facing. In his letter, Golden highlights the experiences of the Caribou and Fort Fairfield VFW posts, both of which have seen revenues plummet since March but have very little access to EIDL funds. 

“Situations like the ones in Fort Fairfield and Caribou illustrate the need for the SBA to amend its per-employee regulatory policy to help VSO local posts,” continued Golden. “I urge you to change the policy so that VSOs with one or fewer employees can have their per-employee EIDL advance grant limit waived up to $5,000. This will ensure that these groups survive the pandemic and continue to provide the critical services that our veterans—now, more than ever—need and deserve.”

Both small businesses and nonprofits can currently receive EIDL advance grants of up to $10,000. Congressman Golden worked with the Maine delegation to help protect Maine nonprofits from burdensome Department of Labor rules, and recently unveiled the Reviving the Economy Sustainably Towards a Recovery in Twenty-twenty (RESTART) Act, to provide more flexible financial support for small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.

You can read the letter here.