“This Veteran's Day, Columbus taxpayers might want to reflect on the desecration of Vets Memorial and the rip-off of the government money designated for local veterans' well-being,” said combat veteran John Dreska.

If you're counting, here's the latest round of funny numbers that are killing Veterans Memorial. In one of the most fiscally irresponsible decisions in Franklin County history, the Commissioners will now spend nearly $10 million to demolish the structure and prepare the site for a new building. They are also giving away 12 acres to developers. Also, they've pledged a subsidy to cover operating deficits for any new facility built on the site.

The state of Ohio has pledged another $15 million welfare check for the construction of the new facility being built on the site. In a new twist, because the Arnold Classic is moving to the state fairgrounds from Vets Memorial, the state has also pledged an additional $38 million to improve the fairgrounds. The Columbus Dispatch explained that Vets Memorial was for competitive bodybuilders' "Madison Square, their Lambeau Field. Mecca."

By destroying the legendary facility where Arnold Schwarzenegger was crowned Mr. World in 1970, it will cost taxpayers in Franklin County at least $63 million and 12 acres worth $24 million was transferred to the CDDC (Columbus Downtown Development Corporation) for $12.00.

Also, if you calculate the destruction of a $40 million facility operating in the black and serving over 400,000 residents, many of them veterans, the cost piles up. Add in the cost of renovating the current Vets Memorial pre-demolition and moving the Franklin County Board of Elections out to the inconvenient Morse Road to make way for Veterans Memorial to occupy their building, and the tax bill keeps climbing.

Dreska, a veteran trying to save Vets Memorial, told The Free Press, “Franklin County Commissioners are at it again! They want to waste another $1 million of our taxpayer money. They also are planning their hearing during the Homeless Stand Down…where we have to now go to the Huntington Park Baseball Stadium since they threw us out of our Veterans Memorial.”

On October 21, 2014, the annual Central Ohio Homeless Veterans Stand Down occurred outdoors at the Huntington Park West Concourse, instead of inside Veterans Memorial Hall as they had in the past. In the yearly event, veterans groups aid their homeless comrades in arms by providing legal assistance, clothing, hair cutting, medical services, hot meals and help in obtaining their full veteran’s benefits.

While homeless veterans are suffering, others are doing well. Guy Worley, the CDDC President and CEO reported nearly $425,000 in compensation on the company's 2011 tax return. It is his corporation that will pick up the $24 million worth of taxpayers’ property for 12 bucks.

How did the veterans, despite having an advisory commission, lose control of their most prized possession -- the Vets Memorial facility -- to real estate speculators, in an event eerily similar to Shay's Rebellion? A trusting Veterans Memorial Commission made an unrestricted gift of the facility and the property in 1981 to the Franklin County Commissioners. When their lease ran out in 2013, the veterans were at the mercy of three County Commissioners, none who have served in the military, and the downtown developers, who wield the real power in this city.

Under sections of Ohio Revised Code 345.01, public money can be used to build "a soldier's memorial," and a board of trustees is allowed under ORC 345.14. The law says that the Memorial's Board of Trustees will "co-ordinate and assemble within a county as nearly as possible, in a one-stop information or service center in such memorial, all government agencies operated for the benefit of the honorarily discharged veterans of the armed forces of the United States." Vets Memorial complied with this law. The County Commissioners' new plan to destroy the facility and scatter services in various buildings throughout Franklin County appears to violate the intent of the state law. But when you're serving the needs of real estate speculators and major donors, the needs of veterans are quickly overlooked.