City officials cut the ribbon, marking the grand opening of the state’s first Veteran Services office at the municipal level. From left: Mayor Mike Foley, Director of Veteran Services Arty Ledoux, former Mayor Mike Sanphy and City Councilors David Morse and Victor Chau. Chance Viles / American Journal

WESTBROOK — The city officially opened the state’s first municipal-level Veteran Services office last week with the goal of bridging the gap between veterans and their benefits.

City officials and veterans turned out for a ribbon cutting ceremony Jan. 17 at the new office at the Westbrook Community Center.

Director Arty Ledoux speaks with American Legion Post 197 Commander Steve Girard at the new office. Chance Viles / American Journal

“This is outstanding, and the needs are there,” said American Legion Post 197 Commander Steve Girard. “The whole system for benefits is complicated, and that is why veteran service officers are so important. Veterans get frustrated and discouraged trying to get these benefits, which they are eligible for, and give up. This is a step towards getting them what they deserve.”

The office will assist veterans in filling out paperwork and connect with services they are eligible to receive.

“We worked hard to put this office together. Veterans have expectations of professionalism, and I think we nailed it. It’s been a long time coming,” said Arty Ledoux, who will run the office and has been certified by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Ledoux, a veteran, is the city’s Public Services operations manager. He will fit the Veteran Services role into his public works schedule and is not taking any additional wages. He worked with former Mayor Mike Sanphy to create the office.

All items in the office, from supplies to furniture, were donated by residents, city officials and a number of businesses, including IDEXX, W.B Mason and Walmart, Ledoux said.

The office will also be the first in the city to use an electric vehicle. Ledoux will use the car to bring clients to state-level offices or appointments.

Office visits are by appointment and can be scheduled on Fridays between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m.

The office is still looking for veterans to register, in part to help them understand how many veterans are in the city, which the city currently does not know.

“This is just the beginning, and is another piece in what we have to offer,” Mayor Mike Foley said.

The office is outfitted with donations from businesses and residents. Chance Viles / American Journal

The ceremony drew a good crowd of city staff and officials and veterans and their families. Chance Viles / American Journal

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