Delaware veterans’ organizations were in a tough spot last year. Delaware State Police sent a November 2012 letter to fraternal organizations statewide, notifying them slot machines – which the organizations had long used as a source of charitable revenue – were illegal.
Veterans protested, contacted legislators and formed a coalition of fraternal club leaders to regain the use of the machines. By July, slot machines were again up and running.
Tom Jones, who led a Veterans' Day ceremony at Dave Dolby AMVETS Post 2 in Long Neck, said, “I believe, personally, the Dave Dolby Post led the change on this.”
Jones said veterans made headway at Legislative Hall with the help of Delaware Secretary of Finance Tom Cook. “Tom has been on our side from the beginning,” Jones said. “We’ll be ever-grateful for the work he did.”
Cook, keynote speaker, said, “Sometimes in government, we don’t always get it right.”
He said the letter sent from state police energized Delaware veterans. “You went and defended your voice by going to Dover,” Cook said. “You reached out to government leaders and made them understand what you do for the community.”
Cook said the organizations raise money for volunteer fire companies, collect donations for Toys for Tots and participate in endless other charities throughout the year. “This is stuff that’s invaluable to the state,” he said.
Cook said after Gov. Jack Markell assigned him to craft legislation with fraternal leaders, he learned about the daily operations of veterans’ organizations. “How you help people in need,” he said.
Cook said veterans continued to fight for legislation to legalize slot machines until a final bill passed on the last day of legislative session, June 30. “You showed the government to listen to the people and work for the people,” he said.
“Not only were you heroes defending your country,” Cook said, “each and every day your continue to be a hero.”
Cook continues to help veterans. Jones said Cook is currently helping Post 2 refinance its clubhouse. For more information, go to sussexamvetspost2.com.