Vaughn Hardacker here: Recently I responded to a facebook post from someone whose mother and father were old friends of my parents. I posted a comment in regards to the government allowing 10,000 Syrian refugees into the U. S.: “Before we allow any refugees from Syria, we should take care of our homeless veterans (I’m paraphrasing here)” She in turn posted a reply that could have been taken as someone shaking a finger in your face: What are YOU doing to help the homeless?
My reply: I am a member of a group that is currently working to establish a veteran’s homeless shelter in Aroostook County. We have already met with representatives from the offices of Senator Collins (we have also teleconferenced with the senator), Senator King, and Congressman Poloquin and members of their offices are involved in the effort. We looked into a location at the former Loring Air Force Base and after a period of time cut off all communication with them because each time we met they came up with a different excuse why they couldn’t commit to leasing us a location. The truth of the matter is that a private company entered into the discussion and threw more money at the Loring Development Committee (a situation of which we made the above mentioned officials aware). Our argument is that we wanted a long-term facility, whereas the private corporation may pull out at any time that they feel it is not profitable. The thing that irritates me the most is that when Loring closed, the base was given to the State of Maine. The state then gave it to the LDA and the LDA is choosing money over the welfare of our veterans. We have not given up though and are looking at sites in Caribou and Van Buren.
I am the Senior Vice-Commandant of Meo Bosse Detachment 1414 of the Marine Corps League and, in conjunction with Cary Medical Center in Caribou, I have established the Aroostook Veteran’s Advocacy Committee, of which I was elected chairperson. I mailed a letter to every veteran’s organization in Aroostook County inviting them to select a representative to the committee. At-Large members of the committee are from the Veteran’s Administration, the offices of our federal and local elected officials. We held our first meeting on October 3, 2015 and of the thirty-three organizations invited, fifteen sent representatives. Our goal is to present the Veteran’s of Aroostook County as a single entity when pushing for veteran-related legislation. The AVAC will be speaking for over 1,000 Aroostook County Veterans and elected officials from such a sparsely populated part of the state will pay attention to the prospect of gaining or losing such a large block of voters.
Other than that I haven’t been doing much.
By the way, she replied back saying she was proud of me and forwarded the post to several people she knew were dealing with the same issues. Think about the impact that turning a bunch of government owned empty buildings into housing for the homeless across the country could have!
So as the holidays close in on us, give thanks for what you have and don’t forget those who are not as fortunate.