‘Something That Slipped Through the Cracks’: Selectmen Vow To Support VFW’s $15,000 ARPA Request

After New Canaan’s legislative body pushed back on an earlier snub, the Board of Selectmen has promised to support a local veterans group’s modest request for a share of federal funds. Members of VFW Post 653 last fall detailed their need for $15,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funding after the pandemic forced them to cancel the main way the organization raises money each year to place flags and wreaths on the gravestones of veterans interred in New Canaan. 

Yet when the selectmen voted in favor of recommendations for ARPA funding for nonprofits, the VFW was left off—a snub that garnered no comment at the Board of Finance but strong pushback at the Town Council. During their Aug. 9 meeting, the selectmen revisited the issue while taking up a larger round ($715,000) of recommended ARPA allocations. 

First Selectman Kevin Moynihan said there’s been “a lot of press about this item.” He said that when the head of the New Canaan Community Foundation—an organization tapped by the town to vet applications for ARPA funding from nonprofits—explained its recommendations in June, “she indicated there were several applicants that were being returned to the town and several applicants that were being denied.”

“And I understood at the time that the VFW was in the denied category as being ‘not ARPA eligible’ ” Moynihan said. “If I had known that [they were], we would have discussed it on the [June] 28th or we would have agreed to have further discussion about it.” (In fact, Moynihan during the Town Council’s July 20 meeting appeared to assert—incorrectly—that the VFW did not have tax-exempt status as a nonprofit organization under the Internal Revenue Code.)

Moynihan added during the selectmen’s Aug.

‘Make Sure That People Remember Them’: New Canaanites Launch ‘Yogis Support Our VFW Day’

New Canaan’s John McLane, a U.S. Army captain in Vietnam, joined a local VFW post soon after getting out of the military in 1969. But it was many years before McLane started attending VFW meetings or involving himself in other events of the organization. “Because I didn’t want to really think about it,” he said Wednesday morning. Then in 2012, he became active in the New Canaan-based Howard M. Bossa and Peter C. Langenus Post 653 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. 

He took up yoga that same year, and within a few years befriended fellow yogi and New Canaanite Margaret Roscoe. Daughter of a Civil War buff who spent family car trips visiting battle sites and feels strongly about the military and veterans, Roscoe was already an active volunteer for the VFW, which hands out poppies on two weekends each spring to honor the nation’s war dead.

Town Hall To Get Plaques Listing New Canaanites Who Served in Korea, Vietnam and during Gulf War, War on Terrorism

Town officials recently approved the payment of about $7,000 in privately raised funds to a Trumbull-based company that will install plaques at Town Hall honoring New Canaanites who have served in wartime. The additional plaques for the new major entrance of Town Hall will list the names of residents who served during the Korean War, Vietnam War and Operation Desert Storm of the Gulf War, according to Bill Oestmann, buildings superintendent of the New Canaan Department of Public Works. The Board of Selectmen at its June 27 meeting voted 3-0 to approve $6,962.76 for A.W. Construction LLC—funds raised by VFW Post 653 and the Exchange Club of New Canaan. VFW Post 653 Commander Peter Langenus said later that New Canaan’s American Legion Post 30 has given an “incredible commitment of time and money” to the project. During the meeting, held at Town Hall,First Selectman Rob Mallozzi said: “I applaud the effort.”

‘There’s Not Enough Being Done’: New Canaan Scout, 15, Oversees Cleaning of Veterans’ Gravestones at Lakeview Cemetery

Elliott Ruoff, a 15-year-old soon-to-be sophomore at New Canaan High School, wanted to do something special for veterans for his Eagle Scout project. Standing near one veteran’s marker on a recent, hot and humid morning at Lakeview Cemetery, Ruoff gave his reasons for taking on the cleaning all of the veterans’ gravestones there. “There’s not enough being done to help them, in my opinion,” Ruoff said. “One of the main problems with this is that when we’re trying to find the stones, we can never find them because some of them are just so dirty that they’re unreadable.”

There are about 900 veterans buried in Lakeview Cemetery, according to Ruoff. Troop 70, the Boy Scouts troop to which he belongs, is responsible for marking those veterans’ stones with U.S. flags for Memorial Day and wreaths for Christmas every year.

New Canaan VFW Calls for Donations to Support Wreath Placements on Graves of Veterans Buried in Town

The local Veterans of Foreign Wars post is calling for New Canaanites to support its effort to place a year on the gravestone of those who have served and buried in New Canaan. This year, some 985 wreaths were placed on the grave sites veterans from the French and Indian War, Revolutionary War, Civil War, First and Second World Wars, Korean War and Vietnam War, for a total cost of more than $,9000, according to town resident Peter C. Langenus, commander of New Canaan VFW Post 653, who served as a U.S. Army captain in Vietnam and as a colonel during Operation Desert Storm. “Not one penny or dollar of taxpayer money is used to fund this annual project,” Langenus said. “The cost of this annual project increases each year as the number of veterans honored increases each year.”

Many New Canaanites will know Langenus, who has helped to lead solemn services following the Memorial Day parade as well as on Veterans Day. Langenus and the VFW are asking locals to donate to the VFW in order to support the nonprofit organization’s wreath program, launched many years ago with the New Canaan Exchange Club.