A Profile of Maine's Veteran Population
Published July 25, 2011
The Maine Commission for Community Service recently took a look at Maine Veterans - the demographics as well as some of the issues they face.
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Nationally, Maine ranks in the top five states in the country in terms of the concentration of Veterans (meaning the percentage of Veterans as compared to the general population). York, Androscoggin and Kennebec counties are in the top five counties both in terms of actual numbers of Veterans as well as concentration of Veterans in the overall population.
Cumberland, and Penobscot counties have the largest actual numbers of Veterans, but the greatest concentration of Veterans is in Sagadahoc, Piscataquis, Androscoggin, York, and Kennebec counties. Kennebec County received the most dollars from the Veterans Administration in 2010, a statistic most probably related to the fact the only VA Hospital in Maine is in this county.
Most Maine Veterans are over 50 years of age, and Veterans of the Vietnam War. Within the next ten years, however, there is expected to be nearly equal numbers of Vietnam War and "Gulf War Veterans". The "Gulf War Veterans" are described as both pre and post 9/11 actions in the Gulf for purposes of the things discussed in this article. Vietnam War and Gulf War Veterans each experienced things as a result of their service that other Veterans did not. Vietnam War Veterans in large numbers have experienced post-traumatic stress disorder, and from several conditions related to the use of Agent Orange and other herbicides. Gulf War Veterans in huge numbers have suffered from a chronic multi-symptom illness known as the Gulf War Syndrome. The risk of birth defects to children of both Vietnam and Gulf War Veterans has been recognized and well-documented.
Maine Veterans face a variety of issues upon their return to civilian life. If they have health issues, they may have to travel great distances to receive help. There is one VA hospital in Maine that provides in-patient care, and in 2009 it had 2,147 inpatient admissions. That same year there were 349,000 outpatient visits in Maine at eight different Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs) - Bangor, Calais, Caribou, Houlton, Lincoln, Rumford, and Saco. In April of 2010 a new clinic opened in Lewiston/Auburn. In addition, there are five Vet Centers (at Bangor, Caribou, Lewiston, Portland and Sanford) that provide readjustment, military sexual trauma, and bereavement counseling services. The mobile medical unit in Bingham is open two days a week and there are Outreach clinics in Ft. Kent and Houlton which are each open one day a week. Robert Owen, Department Service Officer of the American Legion of Maine and member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars says "Lack of funding for health care for Vets is the biggest health issue Veterans face. Congress has continued to not fund the VA at the level needed and, meanwhile, the population the VA serves has grown. As a result, in Maine it takes about one year for a newly eligible Veteran to even see a primary care physician."
A look at the map above clearly demonstrates the distances certain Maine Veterans have to travel to get help.
For more information on Maine Veterans and some of the other issues they face, you can contact me for a copy of the full report at 207-624-6249 or via email at Eileen.email@example.com.