At a time when our nation has a large number of veterans returning from, often dangerous duty, the American Legion Post in Germantown is struggling to keep its new home.
American Legion Post 295 has been in existence for over 30 years, according to Post Commander Bob Ouelette Sr., but has only had a home in Germantown since last July. And now that home is in danger of being lost.
In July, Post 295 has the opportunity to rent the property at 19401 Walter Johnson Road in Germantown, which is adjacent to the Germantown MARC parking lot. The rental on the building was to be paid using revenue from weekly bingo nights and revenue from a couple of Maryland Video Lottery slot machines, Ouelette said.
“The slot machines are not living up to the revenue projections that the state lottery commission supplied us with,” said Ouelette. “Projections from the Lottery of $100 a day or $15,000 a month for rent, utilities and thousands for programs has turned into to desperate days as the reality has turned out to maybe $100 a week.”
Now, those lower revenues and a harsh winter which has kept many members and guests away from the weekly bingo nights have created a situation where the Post isn’t earning enough revenue to cover its monthly rent
“This winter has really hurt us badly,” said Ouelette. “Most of the bad winter weather came on Wednesday nights and it really kept our members and guest from coming out to the Post for bingo night.” The Post hosts bingo, which open to the public every Wednesday night, the doors open at 6:00 pm and bingo starts at 7:00 pm. Ouelette calls bingo at Post 295, “The best kept secret in Germantown.”
“Members and guests can get a beverage in our canteen area, play a game of pool or catch a game on our many wide screen TVs. We have a nice display of military uniforms, medals, patches and equipment. As well as a library stocked by Auxiliary Unit 295. The game room is open to members and guests, 18 and over can play the MD Lottery Slot machines, the payout is set at 90.5 percent with the top dollar being $599. We have paid out several tickets over $300, but that big jackpot is still out there,” said Ouelette.
As a result the recent shortfalls, Ouelette has set up a GoFundMe account entitled "Save The Post Home" to solicit donations to be used to help pay for the cost of housing the American Legion Post’s home in Germantown.
“Realistically, the Post has profited only $3,800 in six months while monies forwarded to the state has been $5,200. We will not be able to sustain the Post because utilities are much higher than the $75 we earned last week, while depositing over $600 to Maryland,” said Ouelette.
American Legion Post 295 has roughly 400 members from the Germantown and Gaithersburg area and supports three boys count units, as well as sponsoring High School Oratorical Contest, and of course American Legion Baseball team, which has been the nucleus of the Post’s programs. All of these programs are on top of the many programs the American Legion has for veterans and families of vets, including Operation Provide Comfort, which provides support and information for those who have loved ones who may be exhibiting signs of stress or PTSD, as well as many other programs and events.
Membership in the Post need not require military service by the individual, Post 295 also hosts a Sons of the American Legion Squadron, whose members include males of all ages whose parents or grandparents served in the U.S. military and were eligible for American Legion membership.