BANGOR – U.S. Senate candidate Sara Gideon met with homeless veteran advocates in Bangor Monday.
“We think it’s important for all of our elected officials and potentially elected officials to understand the problem of homelessness for veterans in Maine,” said Dan Hodgkins, program director for Veteran Housing Services at Preble Street.
U.S. Senate Democratic candidate Sara Gideon held a round-table discussion with leaders from Preble Street Veterans Housing Service.
“Making sure that we are taking care of our veterans the way our veterans have taken care of us,” Gideon said. “That includes making sure that as they are discharged and come home, that they have access to housing and all of the services that they need.”
Attendees of the discussion said 25 veterans in Maine become homeless each month.
“One thing I learned today was how much that number has increased during the time of COVID,” Gideon said. “Right now there are about 140 veterans in the state of Maine who are experiencing homelessness, and the need to make sure that we take care of those people is absolutely urgent.”
Gideon allowed each person to share their thoughts on the issue and what they’d like to see from her.
“I would hope that she could work on looking at what the veterans can get for benefits, what the nature of their discharges are,” said Veterans for Sara Steering Committee Chair Brigadier General John Bubar USAF (retired). “How do we rationalize who’s a veteran?”
“A willingness to kind of understand the problem and partner with all the different providers here in the state of Maine and being creative and figuring out both short term short term solutions and long term solutions to the problem of homelessness,” Hodgkins said.
Gideon said her primary focus is getting veterans access to services they need, such as health care.
“We know that those can be some of the underlying causes for homelessness,” Gideon said. “Then also, making sure that when we think about voucher programs for housing for homeless veterans, that those are actually going to work.”
Gideon stressed the importance of continuing to have conversations like this one moving forward.