TOGUS – “So long as there are veterans, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks will never forget them,” is a motto that the Maine Elks hold close to their hearts. The Maine Elks Association recently held a special barbecue at the Togus VA Hospital. The lunch was served to more than 75 veterans by volunteers from the Maine Elks Association.

Maine Elks hold special events for the veterans throughout the year, including a Flag Day service, a Fall Frolic, a Christmas party, and many individual members volunteer their time, putting in hundreds of hours of service to help veterans at the facility.

The association also assists in taking the veterans to baseball games, fishing trips and to the flower show. This year, many of the Elks will assist with the Golden Age Games, a national “olympic-style” event for veterans across the country, scheduled at the University of Maine in Orono on Aug. 7 to 12.

Maine Elks have contributed more than $100,000 to meet the needs of veterans. Projects at the Togus facility include the building of two gazebos, installation of barbecue equipment, donation of exercise equipment, a video camera for services in the chapel to be broadcast througout the facility, a music system for the nursing home unit, a 10-passenger golf cart to shuttle patients from the parking lot to the registration area, a 22-passenger (wheelchair accessible) bus for transporting veterans to off-site locations, washers and dryers and nature paintings on the walls of the Alzheimer’s unit.

This year the Maine Elks Veterans Committee is working on a project to help veterans with serious disabilities work with computers in the Togus facility’s computer lab. Some can only use their mouth to operate the computers, while others are missing limbs or have limited mobility. Special cognitive retraining software is also used on the computers and is critical for veterans recovering from brain injuries.

Several years ago, the association assisted in setting up the program, acquiring used computers and putting them to use in the lab. However, much of the software needed today is too advanced for the older computers and the machines are not upgradeable.

Veterans/National Service Chairman Tom Elliot of West Bath (Brunswick Lodge) said he needs help from the lodges and the public. He said, “We need to upgrade the computer lab so that all hospitalized veterans have access to computers.”

Fund-raisers are soon to be under way, but donations can be made payable to “Computer Lab Program,” and sent to Department of Veterans Affairs, 1 V.A. Center, Togus, ME 04330.

For more information on the Elks, visit www.elks.org, or visit a local lodge.


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