Matt Lesser

State Senator

Matt Lesser

Deputy Majority Leader

Your Independent Voice

March 7, 2019

Middletown Legislators Join Veterans to Testify In Favor of Veterans Center Projects

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From left: Commander David Roane of the Harry Ruffin, Jr. American Legion Post 206, State Senator Mary Abrams, State Senator Matt Lesser, Middletown Common Council Deputy Majority Leader Mary Bartolotta and State Representative Quentin Phipps stand in the State Capitol after Roane, Lesser, Bartolotta and Phipps testified to the Veterans’ Affairs Committee Thursday.

HARTFORD, CT – Today, State Senators Mary Abrams (D- Meriden, Middlefield, Rockfall, Middletown, Cheshire) and Matt Lesser (D-Middletown) and Representive Quentin Phipps (D-Middletown) stood alongside Middletown military veterans as they testified in favor of a bill, introduced by the legislators, that would provide area veterans with new resources for the benefit of both themselves and the local community.

Committee Bill No. 949, “An Act Authorizing Bonds of the State for the Harry Ruffin, Jr. American Legion Post 206,” introduced by Sens. Abrams and Lesser and Rep. Phipps, was discussed at public hearing Thursday in front of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee. If enacted, the bill would allow the State Bond Commission to issue bonds for the Department of Veterans Affairs, which would issue a grant to Middletown’s Harry Ruffin Jr. American Legion Post 206. Those funds would be used to create a veterans community center, a small business incubator space for veteran-owned businesses, and additional programming for veterans and their families in both Middletown and the surrounding area. The Harry Ruffin, Jr. American Legion Post 206 currently does not have a physical location, which would be rectified by this legislation.

Sen. Lesser and Rep. Phipps ceded their testimony time Thursday to David Roane, Commander of Harry Ruffin, Jr. American Legion Post 206, and Middletown Common Council Deputy Majority Leader Mary Bartolotta. Sen. Abrams, a member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, heard their testimony.

Roane said these investments in local veterans wouldn’t just acknowledge the veterans’ service to the country, but would provide additional support and resources for them, both with their businesses and with any challenges they may face, including treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, transportation to and from medical appointments and counselling for various issues they experience in their lives.

“Military services foster a sense of common camaraderie and trust between members that usually continues after their service is completed. Veterans are also highly motivated to help a brother or sister in arms and to go above and beyond to assist because of this bond,” said Commander Roane. “The veterans who provide help gain a sense of satisfaction and knowledge that they have made a difference. The veteran who receives assistance also benefits.”

“Our proposed veterans’ facility and conference center will provide a one-stop resource for any needs a veteran might have,” Commander Roane said. “In addition, your investment today would allow us independence through the development of a conference center. Therefore, we would not need to come back yearly looking for additional funds. This is because all of the revenue generated will go back into programs and operations for veterans and their families.”

“Our goal is to generate success,” Bartolotta said. “Post 206 will be a welcome addition to the Westville section of Middletown, providing services for veterans in Middletown and the Greater Hartford region. Post 206 has long been without a home, and this funding for a physical location will enable greatly expanded services.” She added the site will be near an Army Reserve training base, which will provide a natural partnership between veterans and Post 206.

“I would like to thank the Veterans’ Affairs Committee for the opportunity to hear this bill,” said Sen. Abrams. “In these tough financial times, we should be supporting these kinds of projects that will be self-reliant and will benefit veterans, their families, and the entire community.”

“Working together, Middletown’s legislative delegation is excited about this project and eager to work with the City and area veterans to provide event space and programming to our community,” said Sen. Lesser. “Any day we can thank those who have served our state and our country in uniform is a good day. We’re making sure Middletown is second to none when it comes to serving our veterans. ”

“I am in full support of this bill,” said Rep. Phipps. “This Legion has supported our community in numerous ways, in their volunteerism efforts, their support for their fellow veterans, their support for racial justice, social justice, economic justice has been unmistakable for years. It’s long overdue to invest back into their community the way they have invested in ours.”