By Laura Haefeli

STOCKTON (CBS13) — A new surge of coronavirus cases is forcing businesses in Northern California to once again close their doors. Places like VFW posts and American Legions, which are classified as bars, may have to close as coronavirus cases spike and counties move backward in the state’s tiers.

On the eve of Veterans Day, Retired Corporal Frank S. Wright, USMC, and Major William C. White, one of the oldest living Marines in the U.S., say it’s places like the American Legion that’s helped them cope with post-traumatic stress disorder.

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“That’s what the legion does for you, it gives you a place to discuss. You have to get it all out of your head,” Wright said.

But with COVID-19 cases spiking across California, veterans’ posts are at risk of having to close their doors to military members once again.

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Bob Reeb is a lobbyist with the California State Commanders Veteran Council. He says the group sent a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office asking for posts to remain open regardless of coronavirus restrictions.

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“Many of the veterans’ posts and halls have a small bar as part of the building,” Reeb said. “The bar does not have to be open in these posts and halls. These posts and halls serve very important roles in the lives of our veterans.”

Reeb says access to mental health resources tops the list of importance for veterans.

“The veterans’ service officer can meet with veterans and assist them in filing claims whether they be health-related or otherwise, to secure benefits from the vets’ administration in Washington D.C. Having the buildings themselves closed is creating real issues for veterans throughout California,” Reeb said.

Veterans halls are often used for group gatherings from city council meetings to weddings. Reeb tells CBS13 if they can’t start renting their halls out soon, the financial impact could be devastating.

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