Maine Honors Returning Soldiers In Bangor 

Governor Baldacci as well as Congressman Mike Michaud were on hand to honor 12 soldiers form the Maine Army National Guard who returned from serving serving overseas. Major General Bill Libby presented some of the awards and says honoring these soldiers is the least we can do. “It’s really important,” says Libby, “I’m a Vietnam era guy and we didn’t get the recognition when we came home, it’s really important not only for this group of soldiers but to future generations of soldiers to get some validation from the general public.”Yhe soldiers honored were certainly appreciative of the efforts. Peter Beloff says this is the second ceremony like this he’s been a part of. “It’s a spectacular thing to come back to and all the work they put into it and the concern level they have to make sure that we receive the appropriate ceremonies,” Beloff says.A lot of the talk focused on the $2o million dollar congressional proposal, designed to help returning soldiers reintegrate back into society. Congressman Michaud is big supporter of the proposal. “The $20 million that we were able to get into the department of defense budget is for reintegration,” says Michaud, “whether that’s help training them, whether it’s help they need, some additional mental health services for them or their families, and Maine is one of six states that will have top priority for those funds, and hopefully we’ll be able to keep the 20 million in there and be able to get it to the Presidents desk and we’ll be able to move forward to provide the programs we need for our men and women and their families.”General Libby agrees, reintegrating back into society can be difficult for returning soldiers. “We recognize the past 6, 7, 8 years the reintegration of soldiers going from that 24 hour a day mission environment back to an 8 hour day in the states is always a difficult transition,” he says, “even if you’re not dealing with emotional issues or physical issues.” Another topic that was raised was the national recognition Maine has received for their role in honoring the soldiers. Governor Baldacci has heard first hand what folks think of the troop greeters. “I think it’s huge that the recognition of the troop greeters, family members, family support,” says Baldacci, “and just hearing back from soldiers when I was calling overseas and they say, you know Governor we feel like we’re spoiled, we’re getting a lot more attention then some of the other states and you know tell the people of Maine we really appreciate it and I think that’s what matters most that their supporting the troops in anyway they can.”Congressman Michaud has visited overseas and heard from the troops first hand. “One of the things that’s heart warming every time I go to Iraq or Afghanistan and I let the soldiers know I’m from Maine they all talk about the troop greeters and it’s amazing how much just a hug or a thank you or a handshake means to the brave men and women who are wearing the uniforms.”