Campaign to Reopen Veterans’ Halls & Posts

In 2020, Veterans’ posts were part of an executive order implementing a statewide shutdown to address the spread of COVID-19. When the state allowed a partial reopening to occur, veterans’ posts were not allowed to resume operations. Because veterans’ posts have restricted liquor licenses, they were mistakenly classified as bars, which put them at the back of the line for reopening. For months, the shuttering of posts prevented thousands of California veterans from accessing the help they need, including applying for benefits, connecting to mental health and healthcare services, and more.

The California State Commanders Veterans Council (CSCVC) is one of Callahan Public Affairs pro-bono clients. CSCVC is comprised of the leadership of California’s major veterans service organizations (VSOs) and acts as the collective voice for California’s veterans. Concerned for the well-being of the veterans who rely on services provided by posts, CSCVC leadership made it a priority to bring attention to the state’s misclassification of posts and the negative impact their continued closure was having on California veterans.

Working closely with CSCVC leadership and its contract lobbying firm, CPA managed the grassroots and press efforts to highlight the issue. CPA’s work generated significant media attention, including multiple television segments, print and online stories and radio segments, as well as widespread engagement from California’s veteran community.

CPA’s work included:

  • Drafting the CSCVC letter to the Governor’s office and securing 20 VSO Commanders as signatories, including the State Commanders of American Legion, Dept. of CA, the VFW, Dept. of CA, and others
  • Drafting communications for CSCVC to brief member organizations on post closures.
  • Drafting sample letters for individual veterans to send to the Governor.
  • Drafting and distributing a press release to all major media markets, including print, radio and TV. The release generated 4 TV segments, 6 print and online stories, and 2 radio segments.
  • Creating sample press releases and press lists for veteran service organizations to distribute to their local markets
  • Drafting quotes from individual Commanders for use in press releases
  • Fielding inquiries and coordinating directly with press to set up on-camera interviews and live shots of veterans’ halls
  • Message training spokespeople for on-camera, radio, or print media interviews
  • Tracking and distributing all press coverage to CSCVC leadership and member VSOs

Ultimately the activity resulted in the Governor’s office reaching out to CSCVC to discuss the issue and potential solutions.