We ended the 2019 breakfast season with a great turnout! Thank you all! Now the renovation work begins. The kitchen is totally empty, the broken cabinets removed. Serv-Pro has cleaned the kitchen in preparation for painting. Painting will be complete by Nov. 1 when the kitchen floor will be replaced. The two office floors will be replaced the week of Nov. 11 followed by the main hall the week of Nov. 18. The plan is for the Hall to be back in business by Dec. 14, just in time for the Army-Navy Game. Hopefully the new air conditioning system will be installed before the end of the year. The first scheduled event will be Dec. 14 when everyone is welcome to watch Navy (currently 5-1) gain back its prominence over Army (currently 3-4). The Hall will next host the community Christmas Dinner followed by our annual New Year’s Day brunch.
Some news from the Maine Veterans Coordinating Committee. First, the new specialty care addition to building 200 will be complete by next summer. Lab capability will be added to bldg. 205 to support the primary care doctors located there. It was interesting to learn that 75% of the veterans using the VA in Maine use the community-based outreach clinics (CBOCs) and only 25% use Togus. The two closest CBOCs to the Boothbay region are in Lewiston and Portland. The VA Benefits Regional Office, currently in bldg. 248, will be moving off campus (likely in 2022) to some yet to be determine location in Augusta.
The Maine Bureau of Veterans Services director led a discussion on veteran suicides in Maine based on new 2017 statistics. Suicide rates are calculated as the number of suicide deaths divided by the population and multiplies by 100,000. There were 48 Maine veteran suicide rate in 2017 giving a suicide rate of 42.1. The Northeast Region suicide rate is 24.3, almost twice as high! The National veteran suicide rate is 31.0. The overall suicide rate in Maine is 24.7. Again, Maine Veteran suicide rate is almost double the overall suicide rate in Maine. Looking at the age groups, of the 48 suicides in Maine, 10-20 where in the 25-54 range, 16 were in the 55-74 range and 16 over 75 years of age. Less than 10 suicides in the under 34 range. The message is clear, we are not doing enough to prevent suicides in Maine, veteran or non-veteran. Awareness is key but we, as a community, clearly need to be more pro-active in finding solutions.
The November Legion meeting has been canceled due to the work in the Hall. The next meeting will be on Dec. 9, with dinner at 5:30 and the meeting at 6. These dinners and the meetings are open to the public. Members are encouraged to bring a friend, a neighbor, veteran or anyone interested in supporting our veteran community.