03.22.13

SCHUMER: BUFFALOS LONG-AWAITED NATIONAL VETERANS GOLDEN AGE GAMES ABRUPTLY POSTPONED BY VA; CALLS ON VA TO REVERSE COURSE AND MOVE FORWARD WITH EVENT AS PLANNED

brbrNatl Veterans Golden Age Games Projected to Have Over $2 Million Economic Impact for Buffalo Community With Thousands of Spectators Veterans Planning to Attend; VA Recently Announced Indefinite Postponement of EventbrbrSchumer Presses VA to Reverse Decision Re-Commit to Holding Six-Day Sports Event in Buffalo As PlannedbrbrSchumer: VA Should Go the Distance Continue On With BuffalosNational Veterans Golden Age Gamesbrbr

 

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today called on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to reverse its decision that would indefinitely postpone a sixday athletic event in Buffalo, "The 2013 Veterans Golden Age Games." The Buffalo community has been planning the event since 2007, which was projected to garner over $2 million and over 2,500 people were expected to attend the event, including 1,000 veterans. The VA has yet to state a specific reason for postponing the event although similar events in Colorado, North Carolina, and Florida are expected to proceed as scheduled.

"The VA has really dropped the ball here and they need to move quickly to make it better. It is blatantly unfair to our veterans, as well as the Buffalo community, for the VA to postpone the highly anticipated Golden Age Games, especially just two weeks after signing off on it," Schumer said. "The people of Buffalo have invested six years into planning this event to ensure that the competition would be a success. The time and money invested into these games should not go to waste simply on a whim. I urge the VA to undo this hasty decision and move forward the event as planned." 

The Golden Age Games is a competition for U.S. military veterans ages 55 and older. The event features 16 different athletic contests and is the qualifying event for the Senior Olympics. The competition brings together large groups of veterans, many of whom have served in Vietnam.

 

The 2013 National Veterans Golden Age Games" is the 27 th annual scheduled game and was scheduled to take place on May 30 th to June 4 th at nine different venues in Western New York including Erie Community College's Flickinger Center, Buffalo Niagara Convention Center, Erie Community College and Amherst's Audubon Golf Course, and Lasalle Park. Approximately 1,000 athletes were expected to participate and for the past six years, volunteers have been planning the event, which was expected to bring in over $2 million to the Buffalo community.

 

The VA recently announced the indefinite postponement of Buffalo's "2013 National Veterans Golden Age Games," two weeks after the VA's final approval and ten weeks before the competition was expected to begin, while similar events in Colorado, North Carolina, and Florida are expected to proceed as scheduled.

 

Schumer today urged the VA to reverse course and allow the games to continue on as planned in Buffalo. In his letter to the VA, Schumer noted that the committee responsible for planning this competition had already reserved the venues and athletic facilities, recruited numerous sponsors, fundraised, and booked hotels. Many veterans have already booked their flights to Buffalo and downtown hotels have booked guests for the week of the event. Many of the hotel reservations and flights may have to be canceled.  Schumer explained that this event was projected to have a $2.2 million economic impact on Erie County, a huge boost to the Western New York tourism industry and the local economy, with gains through hotels, restaurants, shopping, and entertainment.

 

The letter from Senator Schumer to Secretary Shinseki is below:

 

Dear Secretary Shinseki,

 

I write you to express my concern and to find some answers regarding the sudden indefinite postponement of the 2013 National Veterans Golden Age Games, which were supposed to take place in Buffalo, New York.  On March 20th, only two weeks after the Department of Veterans Affairs gave final approval to the plans for the Games, it was announced that the VA had postponed the plans, citing an increased focus on the costs of conferences and seminars.

 

If this is the case, why was Buffalo, which has been in the planning since 2007, postponed but not events in other states including Colorado, North Carolina, and Florida? How much would the Games in Buffalo have cost, and where will this saved money now be allocated?  Additionally, how large of a share does this cut from the total conference budget for Veterans Affairs?  I understand the need for all levels and areas of government to tighten their belts in this difficult financial climate, but I'm afraid to say that this indefinite postponement does not make much sense to me.

 

I also want to highlight for you the deep financial impact this postponement will have on businesses in Western New York.  The 2013 National Veterans Golden Age Games were projected to have a $2.2 million economic impact on Erie County, with hotels hiring new staff in anticipation of the thousands of veterans and family members who would be pouring into Western New York.  Now these new jobs are in peril, hotel rooms that were booked are in limbo, and veterans with travel plans have been left hanging without any help from the VA.  What does the VA plan to do to help make veterans and companies whole?

 

I urge you to review this decision.  I believe it was made hastily and erroneously, and if there is any room to reverse this postponement, I am hopeful you will take advantage of that.   Thank you for your attention to this matter and I look forward to hearing back from you soon.

 

Sincerely,

 

Charles E. Schumer

United States Senator



Previous Article Next Article