Veterans center to open at Brunswick Landing
BRUNSWICK — After the loss of the former naval air station, area veterans will once again have a central place to meet and support each other.
The Mid-Coast Veterans Resource Center will have its grand opening Sept. 19 with Gov. Paul LePage and other guests at 62 Pegasus St.
The Brunswick Landing center will be the new home of the Mid-Coast Veterans Council, a nonprofit organization that includes representatives from veteran service organizations, with a focus on facilitating connections for current and former service members with local, state and national assistance programs.
The office will be open weekdays, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
"Veterans will often not ask for help, but rather try to make do with what they have," council President Roger Dumont said. "The center will be creating a welcoming and safe environment that is staffed by volunteers that are also members of local veteran service organizations as well as families and friends of veterans."
"Our goal is to ensure that all veterans in the Mid-Coast region and their families receive all entitlements due, are helped with financial hardships and are given every opportunity for self-improvement through higher education," he continued.
Dumont said the center will fill a gap for more than 10,000 Mid-Coast veterans who may not have a place to go for consultations. The center will also soon have a website, so that veterans and families may learn about its location and offered services online.
Because of the council's sprawling network of veteran service organizations, he said, some groups are already poised to use the 2,000-square-foot office space, which will be in a former U.S. Navy recreation center.
They include the Retired Activities Office, whose director has been working out of his home since the former naval air station closed in 2011, and Operation Resilient Hope, a faith-based organization for veterans and first responders.
"Our mission is to provide a home for all veteran service organizations," Dumont said. "None of them have homes where they can have monthly meetings. We're offering a place for them to have meetings, to have a place to go."
Priority Real Estate Group owns the Pegasus Street property. Its president, Jim Howard, decided to provide a free five-year lease to the council as part of the company's community outreach program.
The Topsham-based developer also performed $2,000 in renovations on the center's office space.
"They serve probably the highest number of veterans in Maine," said Kerri Prescott, Priority Real Estate Group spokeswoman. "So we're honored we can give back to them in a big way and look forward to what they can do there."
The center will have to pay for utilities and some other expenses, which is why Dumont said the council will continue to hold fundraising events, like the upcoming second annual Mid-Coast Veterans Golf Tournament on Sept. 27.
"Our theme right now is 'one veteran at a time,'" he said. "We're not looking at bureaucracy, we're looking at that veteran. ... We're not going to be able to fix that veteran, but we'll be able to direct them to the services they need."