Mobile Veterans Center rolls into Rockland
Rockland — A mobile veterans center spent half a day in Rockland Oct. 31 making its services available to local veterans. The van's visit was sponsored by the University College at Rockland, or "URock," a branch of the University of Maine System.
"The van was here to provide services to veterans so they don't have to travel to Augusta or Bangor or Lewiston," said Deborah Meehan, director of the Rockland campus.
"There is no veterans' representative here in Rockland," she said. "There is a counselor on board who gives information on programs and provides counseling."
"The van's presence simplifies the process," she added. "We probably saw 22 people this morning. That's 22 veterans who don't have to make the trip to Togus or who might not go at all."
On board the mobile center was Lenny Richards, a readjustment technician, or counselor, from the VA Health Center at Togus.
James Doherty, a public information specialist at Togus, said the vans are part of the volunteer transportation network at VA centers around the nation.
The Disabled American Veterans organization buys the vans, and VA centers take over the maintenance and running of the vehicles.
"We pick up the costs, and we pick up the veterans," he said.
The mobile center that came to Rockland is one of two in northern and central Maine. Another vehicle runs out of Caribou in Aroostook County, he said.
"We're trying to get the word out that the mobile vet centers are a part of the VA," he said.
The mobile veterans' center idea started in 1980 in San Diego and has spread across the country, Doherty said.
One of the misconceptions is that veterans can only get services if they are recently discharged from active duty in the military.
"They can get help any time, no matter how long they have been out," he said.
The mobile centers have helped veterans during the recent recession, he said. One of the places veterans go to work after they are discharged is at the mills in Maine. As the mills have been closing, the mobile centers have gone to the veterans to help them with their readjustment, he said.
"We try to get around to all the places," he said. "When the mills close, we go back."
Doherty said that any Maine veteran looking for help may call him at 623-5714.
Courier Publications reporter George Chappell may be reached by phone at 594-4401, ext. 117, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.