Director Arty Ledoux, left, speaks with American Legion Post 197 Commander Steve Girard at the Community Center office during the opening in 2020. File photo

Maine’s first municipal veteran services office has hit its stride after two years, focusing on connecting veterans in Westbrook to their benefits and each other, according to its director.

Westbrook’s Veteran Services Office opened in January 2020 and started out slowly, said Arty Ledoux, who also is the operations manager for the city’s Public Services Department and a veteran. Now it fields multiple calls a week ranging from veterans with health care questions to families seeking assistance with funeral arrangements.

Mostly, Ledoux said he helps veterans access benefits they are owed, cutting through red tape, sometimes providing clarification and other times working all the way through the entire process.

“Veterans are easily turned off from going through the process, often thinking they don’t need the benefits,” Ledoux said in an interview last week. “Not only do they need these benefits, but they are eligible and owed them.”

Former Legion Post 62 Commander Roger Barr said Ledoux’s efforts are welcome and needed.

“I had a guy who lived up in that senior area. In his power wheelchair he drove to my place looking for help, and God almighty he was driving down the road and could’ve killed himself, but he came to where veterans were.” Barr said. “I was there that day, talked with him, got involved with Arty and problem solved. There are a ton of stories like that.”


Ledoux and his office have helped families navigate “roadblock after roadblock after roadblock” in getting their benefits,  American Legion Post 197 Commander Steve Girard said. The office has been helpful with arranging funerals or finding benefits following the death of a loved one, he said.

The Westbrook Veteran Services Office has held events such as Coffee With a Veteran and plans to hold a veterans’ barbecue in the fall. Information is shared at those gatherings, but they also give veterans the opportunity to meet and connect.

“Arty has a way of talking to veterans and the benefit to that whole get-together thing is that veterans tend to congregate around other vets. It’s just a fact. We seem to be able to talk better to each other.” Girard said.

At the first coffee meet-up, Girard said he was “amazed.”

“The amount of people not afraid to talk to other vets, knowing they maybe would never talk about this stuff outside of that room,” Girard said.

Ledoux said he owes a lot of gratitude to the city. After creating the office, Mayor Mike Foley formed the Veteran Services Advisory Committee that helps plan events like the Memorial Day Parade and may be providing resources with Ledoux. The committee includes Ledoux, Barr, Girard, former Mayor Mike Sanphy, veteran Mike Dubois and residents Alex Stone and Deb Shangraw.

We owe quite a bit to our veterans, so we want to invest quite a bit of services, resources and time to insure our vets get services they deserve. It’s important to me specifically to show support to them and consistently thank them,” Foley said.

Foley looks forward to the return of the coffee events in the fall.

“I am excited to continue to do our coffee sessions and with the barbecue coming up, and also looking forward to seeing the committee work as they branch out of planning Veterans Day and Memorial Day to other crucial issues like supporting homeless veterans,” Foley said.

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