U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer introduced a bill Monday that would compel the U.S. Postal Service to allow veterans’ groups to solicit donations on post office property.
Joe Jakus, commander of a local Veterans of Foreign Wars chapter, the Rice-Hallock Post in Henrietta, said he had not seen a need for the legislation until the postal service started enforcing a decades-old rule that bars any solicitation on post office property.
The VFW branch had handed out poppies each Memorial Day to commemorate the flowers that grew atop soldiers’ graves on World War I battlefields, and to raise money for projects supporting veterans. This Memorial Day, Jakus said, he was told to leave.
“I was told I was trespassing on government land,” Jakus said. “They said that they were going to call the policemen and have me arrested.”
Schumer called on the postal service to ask the organization to revise its policy — which he called “exasperating” — and allow veterans’ organizations to raise money at post offices. He received no response, he said
A postal service spokesperson said the organization “is a proud supporter of America’s veterans,” but that in order to treat all groups fairly and minimize disruptions to its operations, it and many other federal agencies have adopted a policy to bar solicitation.
Schumer disagreed. “There are lots of causes and a lot of people who may want to sit in front of the post office. But they’re not at the same level as people who risked their lives for America,” he said.
The senator said he expects the bill to pass with bipartisan support. “Every American, of every different persuasion should be for this,” he said. “So should every senator; so should every congressman.” Schumer said he anticipates the bill being signed into law by October.