Veterans, we served America once. It’s time to serve her again.

Maine’s veterans’ community is known for its strong leadership skills, and your expertise is needed now more than ever. We also understand the phrases “support and defend” and “service above self.” Therefore, during the COVID-19 pandemic, your service is needed once again.

As 2020 winds down and we look towards the new year, which can be virus free if we work together to help stop the spread, I ask you to accept this mission.

To stop the spread of the virus, the Maine CDC recommends we utilize personal protective measures including wearing face coverings and handwashing; maintain a social distance of 6 feet or more from others; and maintain environmental surface cleaning in your homes, workplaces, schools, and churches.

I encourage you to remain vigilant and to utilize these simple procedures to increase your protection from COVID-19. Based on the increasing infection/hospitalization numbers we have seen after the Thanksgiving holiday, we should all limit our contacts during the Christmas period. I am a Christmas baby and this will be my first Christmas without my sons and their families being present. But as a family, we have made this decision to help ensure everyone’s safety.

Just as the military teaches teamwork under adverse conditions, we are asking you to rely on those skills to not only protect yourself and your family, but also those in our communities who may need extra assistance or are particularly vulnerable due to pre-existing medical conditions.

It has become clear over the past few months that COVID-19 negatively affects our mental health as well. Conduct buddy checks not only with your friends, but with your spouse and children. The strain that social isolation is causing is noticeable, and if you find it is affecting you, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Support is available if you or someone you know needs it.

This call to arms is very real. Your help is needed now more than ever to combat COVID-19. Please join me in adhering to CDC guidelines as we enjoy the holiday season. It’s up to all of us to band together as a community and do our part.

For veterans in crisis, help is available at the Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255, and press 1, text 838255, or chat at www.VeteransCrisisLine.net.

To learn more about resources for veterans and their families, contact the Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services at 207-430-6035 or www.maine.gov/veterans. Information about Maine’s five Vet Centers can be found on the VA’s website, www.maine.va.gov.

If interested in learning more about suicide prevention, contact VA Maine Healthcare System Suicide Prevention Coordinator Tracy Charette at 623-8411, ext. 5017.

Major General Bill Libby is retired from the U.S. Army and is a former Maine Adjutant General and commissioner of the Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management.


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