Friday, November 7, 2008

Maine Bureau of Veterans Services Seeking

By Larry Favinger
Staff Reporter
Veterans who have served their country since the beginning of World War II and received the Purple Heart and former prisoners of war or their surviving families are eligible for Maine’s Silver Star Honorable Service Medal.
The Maine Bureau of Veterans Services has awarded nearly 550 medals but there are many who deserve the medal who are not known, Peter Ogden, director of Veterans Services, said.
Ogden said he has a lit of 435 names of people who could qualify for the state award.
“They’re looking for people who have been missed,” Janet Hooke of North Berwick, a member of the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 87 who is aiding in the search in southern York County, said. She said many lists have been gone over looking for veterans to honor, including those with Purple Heart license plates.
One veteran who qualifies but has not yet been honored was found in North Berwick.
Ogden said formal awards ceremonies are being scheduled “in local communities whenever possible” throughout the state as it is often difficult for veterans to get to Augusta. The next ceremony will be held in Farmington. Gov. John Baldacci attends the ceremonies if possible.
The Silver Star Medal was first awarded to Maine veterans in August of 2006. It came into being with the legislature and financial support of Gov. Balducci along with the 122nd Legislature that gave the authority to the director of the Bureau of Veterans’ Services to strike medals, coins and certificates to honor Maine’s veterans.
Ogden said at this time only living veterans with the Purple Heart are eligible but the families of former POW’s who have died are to be honored because of the “life changing event” of having a loved one captured. “Their lives were a lot harder because of that,” Ogden said, noting that many families had situations to deal with for years after their family member returned.
Ogden said the bureau “loves people who help us” get the word out but approval of the award comes from his office
Info and application forms are available online or by calling the Bureau of Veterans Services at (207) 626-4464 or by contacting Hooke at (207) 676-9409.
Caption: Maine’s Silver Star Honorable Service Medal. (Courtesy photo)