CLARENCE, N.Y. (WIVB) – Dozens of veterans were at Clarence Town Fall Thursday to sign up for Erie County’s Thank-A-Vet Program.
Each one received a card they can use to get discounts at more than 700 businesses. But the veterans recently learned many of them are no longer allowed to use their cards at Lowe’s stores.
Erie County Clerk Chris Jacobs explained, “We have gotten hundreds of calls saying we’re getting turned away.”
Lowe’s policy restricts their 10 percent veterans discount to those who are active duty, reserve, retired after 20 years of service or injured and receiving VA benefits. That would exclude the majority of honorably discharged service members.
And though the policy has been in place since 2010, many local stores had extended the discount to all veterans until recently.
Navy Veteran Paul Sikorski said, “It will change what I’m buying where I buy it for sure because every little bit helps.”
His wife, Ginny Sikorski, said, “All the military people that served previously deserve something, they put in their time and a lot of them were in Korea, Vietnam so they certainly deserve a discount.”
The Thank-A-Vet cards will still be honored at Lowe’s on Memorial Day, Independence Day and Veterans Day, but Jacobs says that’s not enough and has started a petition urging them to relax their restrictions.
Jacobs said, “A veteran who was a war hero who served in Vietnam or World War II, served for two years in active duty in combat, would only get it three days a year.”
Willis Utter said that as a private business, Lowe’s has the right to enforce the policy, but it’s a right he fought to preserve.
“We do live in the United States of America and it’s their right to if they wish to discontinue that discount. I mean, it’s not going to make the veterans happy, but we have to live by what we are in this country and we do have that freedom and they have that freedom to make that decision also,” said Utter.
Although other chains have also tightened their policies over the years, the change at Lowe’s has been particularly difficult because they’re known for supporting veterans.
A Lowe’s spokesperson told News 4 the store was founded by a veteran and approximately 16,000 of its employees are veterans.