To this former marine, every day is Veterans Day

Dan Marois

Feature Writer

Jim Pineau is a veteran and his career allows him to help other veterans.

He sometimes feels that his work is like watching the History Channel on cable television.

“I enjoy reading about military history and, in my job, I meet veterans who fought at the Battle of the Bulge, in Vietnam, in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said the 35-year-old Lisbon, Maine resident. “It is the best job I ever had.”

Pineau is a staff member for Congresswomen Chellie Pingree and handles primarily military and veterans’ casework along with legislative work involving small business and economic development. He joined Pingree’s team after the 2008 election, having previously worked on veterans’ services for Congressman Tom Allen in 2007.

Pineau’s work finds him aiding and assisting veterans in many different ways.

“I serve as a resource to help them access benefits or services. I’m often a conduit of information for veterans who might not even be aware of what services are available to them,” said Pineau. “When you can help out a vet, you hold on to those victories.”

In his daily work he meets with veterans to provide information or help a veteran with a disability claim. He considers himself a problem solver working closely with the Department of Defense or the Veterans Administration.

“I’m particularly pleased working with Congresswoman Pingree who is a strong advocate for veterans,” said Pineau, noting that Pingree was involved in legislation that provides detailed benefits information for personnel before they leave military service.

Pineau spent five years in the United States Marine Corps earning the rank of sergeant. He served as an avionics electrician working on Sea Stallions, heavy lift helicopters that could easily top off at 30,000 pounds. His job, quite simply, was to keep these machines flying.

“I remember my first time on an active flight line,” said Pineau describing an intense training exercise that took place in a desert in California. “There were various aviation units coming and going simulating combat and transporting infantry. I stood there in awe of it all.”

Pineau recalled that it was a jaw-dropping experience, literally.

“Somebody told me to close my mouth or I would get sand in it,” said Pineau. “Marines, in general, need a great sense of humor or you won’t survive.”

Pineau chose to enlist in the Marines because he thought it would provide him the toughest challenge.

“I enjoyed boot camp. I knew it would be physically demanding,” said Pineau, who is originally from Jay, Maine. “I didn’t expect the mental challenge … the anguish.”

By enlisting, Pineau became the third generation in his family to serve in the military.

“My father’s three oldest brothers served in Vietnam and my maternal grandfather served in Korea,” said Pineau. “My paternal grandfather served in World War II.

“The best decision I ever made was to enlist,” said Pineau, who acknowledged that the military taught him discipline, a strong work ethic, and the skills to see something through to completion.

Veterans Day gives him a sense of pride for belonging to an organization that is much larger than himself.

“It is a big deal. People should pause and reflect,” added Pineau.

Of course, in his daily work to help veterans here in Maine, he admitted that “every day is Veterans Day.”


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