AUGUSTA — U.S. Army veteran Robert Coro watched the Veterans Day ceremony with his daughter, Karalyn, a student at Hall Dale Middle School in Farmingdale. 

“I believe in the mission, and I am a veteran,” said Coro, who lives in Richmond. “I come to show support and teach the values to my daughter.”

Coro was among veterans and family members standing in front of the hospital at Veterans Affairs Maine Healthcare System. As a veteran, he has gotten care at Togus, as did his father and his grandfather. Now he works there.

Karalyn, 13, stood close to her father, holding her hand on her heart as he saluted during the national anthem. They attend the ceremony each year, an opportunity she described as “amazing.”

While the Coros have one kind of connection, it had been nearly a decade since Ryan Michaud of Farmingdale and Jessie Scipio of Oquawka, Illinois, had seen each other. 

Both U.S. Navy veterans, the friends, who served beside each other, were among the many veterans on hand for the ceremony. The two worked together in 2007, along with a third veteran, a U.S. Marine visiting from Massachusetts, who was unable to attend the ceremony. 

“We are a military-oriented family,” said Lynette Eastman of Pittston, Michaud’s mother. 

Veterans march with the colors Monday during the Veterans Day commemoration at Togus VA. Kennebec Journal photo by Andy Molloy Buy this Photo

Michaud, along with his father and stepfather, participated in the ceremony as part of the color guard. 

“It means a lot to be able to come here and see them do their color guard duty,” said Eastman.

In the warmth of the hospital lobby following the ceremony, Michaud’s wife, Christina, rubbed his hands in hers. The two had been friends in high school, but it was not until he left the military that their relationship blossomed.

“He left for the military, and we lost touch,” she said.

Michaud saw five tours to the Middle East and served for 17 years in the U.S. Navy and reserves. 

Now he is back in service for the federal government, Michaud said, working at the shipyard in Kittery.

VA Maine Healthcare System Director Tracye Davis and representatives of elected officials thanked Maine’s veterans during the ceremony. 

“For all our high-tech weapon systems, for everything in the range of our country’s arsenal,” said Davis, “the tide of battle has always turned, and will always turn on the ability and the willingness of young Americans to rise under fire.”

“That is how they have kept faith with us,” she added. “It’s up to us to keep faith with them.”

According to David Richmond, director of the Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services, who spoke for Gov. Janet Mills, the state has one of the highest number of veterans per capita at more than 114,000, around 11% of the population.

VA Maine HCS treats about 43,000 veterans. It is comprised of one main campus in Augusta and community-based outpatient clinics in Bangor, Bingham, Calais, Fort Kent, Houlton, Lewiston, Lincoln, Portland, Rumford and Saco. 

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