Veterans shake hands with parade goers along Wilson Street in Brewer in the annual Veterans Day Parade on Friday, Nov. 11, 2022. The parade, sponsored by the Bangor High School JROTC program, starts in Brewer and ends in downtown Bangor. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

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This is to inform all veterans of the need for each and everyone to enroll with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). It is vital that even if you believe you will not need the services of the VA to understand that some of the research as it relates to the amount of funding for our many services that we have or will continue to have is a reflection of the current number of veterans in Maine.  

Most of the data used to determine the need for services is based on the number of veterans enrolled in the VA. This came to light during a recent study that showed a major projection and future decline in veteran populations in Maine over next 20 years. Many veterans including myself and others feel this data is flawed due to only using the number of veterans who are currently enrolled in the VA and missing a large number of veterans who are not enrolled in the VA.  

Knowing this we must educate and encourage all vets to sign up and be counted so we can get the services to support our ranks. The fewer vets that sign up the more we risk losing or having reductions in investment and infrastructure in areas of health care to the more recent issues with funding and long-term needs for the veterans homes in our rural areas. We as veterans must come together as one voice and remind our lawmakers that if they’re going to send us into harm’s way then they must be prepared to take care of all who served, not just cherry picking the numbers that best fit the studies.

To all our fellow veterans: When you were needed you were there, and now more than ever we need you again to step up and make sure you enroll in the VA so that the data the researchers use will show the true and accurate number of veterans in Maine. On April 14 the Caribou VA clinic will be holding a clinic for any vet to go and sign up, ask questions and even file a claim. Please do your part to continue having the best services available for our brothers and sisters in arms.

Roger Felix