Former Navy submariner Rich Oberg has become an advocate for local veterans as a leader in the Maine Military and Community Network. In recent months, he has helped organize several events aimed at connecting veterans with people who can help them go to college, get health care, receive counseling and find a place to live. On Jan. 30, he plans to take part in a head count of area homeless people, with a special interest in reaching out to homeless veterans.
The Sun Journal wanted to know a little more about what makes him volunteer his time.
Name: Rich Oberg
Age: Over 50
Single, relationship or married? Married
Children? 3 children, 2 grandchildren
How did you get involved helping local veterans? As the team leader for the Lewiston/Auburn Chapter of the Maine Military & Community Network (MMCN), we are focused on helping veterans.
Do you have a military background? I am a disabled veteran. I served in the U.S. Navy aboard the USS Atlanta, SSN 712, a Los Angeles-class, fast attack submarine.
What does the Maine Military and Community Network do? The mission of MMCN is to develop and maintain a multi-group network among community, military, government and private sectors that creates awareness of challenges and resources and provides services to all service members and their families. Together, we can help ensure that no matter whom a military service member or family member turns to, he or she will find the assistance they need.
Maine has had people in war zones almost continually since 2003, but some people lament the lack of public awareness of Maine's military. Do you have any answers? We had a veterans resource fair and we received a good bit of press coverage, which allows us to get the message out. Our veterans are not receiving the help they need and they are unaware of what is available to them.
What have you learned since joining the effort? Most veterans are unaware of what they are entitled to.
What do military families need most? The needs are different for each family.
What can regular folks do to help military families? Volunteer for any veterans organization which is focused on helping. We need volunteers more than we need money. Since the MMCN is not a nonprofit organization, we are unable to accept donations. We are folks who want to make a difference in peoples lives. One thing we forget when volunteering, anything we are asked to do will help. As volunteers, we should be focused on where we are needed most, not what we want to do.