CHELSEA – There are more than 18 million living American veterans, and Monday, VA Maine staff and military members gathered at Togus to honor them.
“It’s a time for all of us to reflect, us as VA employees to reflect on our mission,” said Tracye Davis, the medical center director for the VA Maine Healthcare System.
Togus is the oldest facility in the current Department of Veterans Affairs, and with that history, comes a connection to veterans from all across Maine.
“Not everybody, but a lot of people here I know and I know well, it’s kind of a welcome home,” said Charles McGillicuddy, the post officer for the Augusta VFW. McGillicuddy also works with the Betsy Ann Ross House of Hope which helps homeless female veterans and their kids in Augusta.
This Veterans Day is extra special at Togus as a new home away from home there for veterans’ families is now done construction.
Made possible by the Fisher House Foundation, there are now 16 units for families of veterans undergoing medical treatment at VA Maine.
Some we spoke with have stayed at the Fisher House in greater Boston, but this will be the only one in Maine.
“While we were traveling, we met a couple that was coming from northern Maine and this was winter time, it was quite a hardship for them to get down there, but once they got there it made life so much easier,” said Michael Fogg, who has stayed at the Fisher House in Massachusetts.
A VA official said the $6 million cost was paid for by donations and the Fisher House Foundation.
They hope to start accepting families to stay there by the end of the year.
And as the VA works to help, vets said there’s something you at home can do, too.
“I would encourage everybody to take a little bit of time and talk to a veteran that they know…talk to them and find out their story and what their service means to them,” said Matthew Jabaut, the department commander for the American Legion of Maine.