A veterans assistance program operating in a number of states has reached central Maine.

The three-year Legacy Corps Veteran In-Home Respite Program for veterans and their caregivers will begin as soon as enough people volunteer and are trained, Elizabeth Crawford, manger of the family caregiver program for Spectrum Generations.

The program will be operated through Spectrum Generations, the Central Maine Area Agency on Aging and the federally designated Aging and Disability Resource Center in partnership with AmeriCorps and administered through the University of Maryland.

The announcement was made in a news release from Spectrum Generations, which has local offices in Augusta, Hallowell, Waterville and Skowhegan.

The program, which has been providing caregiver respite in some other states since 2001, matches volunteers with physically disabled and elderly veterans for weekly visits of up to 10-12 hours a week.

According to the release, the services can include companionship, rides to appointments, access to local services and help at home. The service is designed to benefit both the veteran and the caregiver.


“Family caregivers are the backbone of today’s health care,” the release says. “According to the National Alliance on Caregiving, caregivers of veterans report twice the emotional stress of caregivers of adults nationally, almost three times the level of physical strain, and almost four times the level of financial hardship.”

To institute the program, Spectrum Generations is seeking veterans and military families currently caring for veterans who are in need of free support services in their central Maine homes.

Volunteers are asked to commit to a year of service, giving 10-12 hours per week for a total of 450 hours a year. In return, the volunteers receive a $160 a month stipend and a $1,115 education award. The stipend can be used to pay for education at any location and can also be given as a gift to a grandchild, Crawford said.

The program is funded by $64,020 from a Corporation for National and Community Service grant awarded to the University of Maryland by AmeriCorps.

“We are matching $65,687 toward it, so the total program operating cost is $129,707,” Crawford said.

Those interested in receiving caregiving services or volunteering for the Legacy Corps program can contact Jennifer Fortin at 620-1657 or at jfortin@spectrumgenerations.org.

Volunteer orientation takes 20 hours, which counts toward service time, and then training is ongoing.

“As a 30-year Navy veteran myself, I am very excited about this program,” said Gerard Queally, president and CEO of Spectrum Generations. “Spectrum Generations has the opportunity to take care of those who have sacrificed so much in service to our country. With your help, we can serve up to 40 veterans and their caregivers.”

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