By Jeanne Sager
MONTICELLO December 28, 2001 In many communities, the VFW building is a sort of community center a home for spaghetti dinners, fish fries and gatherings of local veterans.
But the veterans at Bailey-Richman Post #9588 in Monticello can only dream of having such an open-door policy.
The building on Lawrence Avenue has come under attack recently, by neighborhood children with too much time on their hands, suspects Post Commander Ralph Feller.
Last week, Feller received a call from one of the veterans who said it appeared the door to the VFW building had been bashed in.
When Feller came to inspect the damage Friday around noon, he discovered a door covered with dents and two broken windows.
He called the police and filed a report, then left to speak with a glass contractor.
Sometime between four and five that afternoon, Feller received a call from the contractor who had gone to the building to measure windows and draw up an estimate.
Instead of two broken windows, there were a total of 10 plus a basement window.
And this isnt the first time the building has been attacked, Feller said.
Each of the windows facing the road have been broken in the past by people throwing rocks from the roadway.
The veterans put up grills on the outside of each to protect the glass, but they were hoping they wouldnt have to install any more.
Basically were making a bastion out of our own building, Feller said. Were being forced to imprison ourselves.
But while installing the grills can protect the windows, trees planted by the veterans earlier this year to commemorate World War II and former President Dwight Eisenhower are hard to protect.
The seedlings, which came from Eisenhowers garden, were ruined earlier this year by vandals who ripped the branches off and hid them somewhere.
We figured we would have two nice, big trees that would be there when we were gone, but it looks like thats not going to happen, Feller noted.
The veterans have not yet received an estimate for all the damage to their building, but they hope most of it will be covered by insurance.
However, their $500 deductible will have to be covered first from the VFWs own funds.
As for clean-up, several veterans came in to sweep up the glass and make the building usable again. But they are tired of having to clean up over and over after vandals attack the building.
Most of us are World War II veterans, and there arent many able-bodied veterans left, Feller explained. If we were able, wed become vigilantes and take care of this matter ourselves, but we cant.