Veterans program sees success in its first year

Posted Feb. 08, 2011, at 6:20 p.m.

The all-volunteer Warrior Legacy Foundation’s Wounded Heroes Program of Maine has been up and running for about a year, program director Pam Payeur of Biddeford told me.

In recognition of the support this new nonprofit has received, Pam extends her thanks to everyone throughout Maine who has been so responsive to its needs.

The program, she explained in a recent letter to the Bangor Daily News, “provides direct assistance to our wounded service members, advocacy for the challenges they face and benefits assistance guidance to help them get back on their feet.”

Within the last year, she said, the organization dealt with a caseload of 40 to 50 veterans, with “each case, statistically, costing us about $3,000,” she said.

Helping servicemen and women is close to Pam’s heart. She knows firsthand the effort it takes when a wounded loved one returns home.

“My son is combat wounded and was medically discharged,” she said.

Pam knows all too well what it is like to deal with a brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder, and that the majority of our wounded have one or more of those conditions, “like my son, and it was trial by fire getting him what he needs, living that reality.”

What WHPM has been able to do, she said, is work with all the veterans programs available, from national to state and local organizations.

“Our philosophy is that we just all enhance the other and network with the others so there are no gaps left,” Pam said.

“It’s not an us-versus-them approach. It’s us all working together to defend the defenders; to care for the wounded.”

Pam said WHPM has developed a good working relationship with all the leading veterans’ organizations and that when something they need falls outside the purview of those organizations, “we’re their first referral.

“They send them our way; tell us these are their needs and what can you do?”

Recently, Pam said, the organization celebrated its first year by purchasing a car for a wounded veteran, “and that made us very, very happy.”

The range of needs for these veterans is great, she said.

“When a service member is injured in the line of duty and can no longer serve their country, they are sent home from bases and medical facilities and no longer receive pay.

“The period of time they wait for their disability benefits can vary, during which they are unable to work or provide for themselves and their families.”

Through fundraising and other activities, WHPM can help tide them over, whether it’s providing fuel assistance, rental funds or something as simple as a holiday meal.

Pam sees the best of people every single day, she said.

People she is in contact with are always asking how they can help and, every time someone make a donation, Pam sends a handwritten thank-you note.

To financially support the program, Pam admits “we beg; we grovel; we have fundraisers; we apply for grants.

“Wherever there is money, we will find it,” she said, and she’s discovering, quite happily, that many organizations such as firefighters and motorcycle clubs are stepping up “to support our troops.”

In fact, the program’s signature event is a July motorcycle ride.

But the one thing that really “blows me away,” Pam said, “is the people who have made the legal arrangements [in their wills] that when they pass on, they are helping our wounded veterans.”

Pam and all the volunteers with the Wounded Heroes Program of Maine are looking forward to another year of being able to offer assistance to more of Maine’s wounded military, with the help of “the continued generosity of the residents of our great state,” she said.

“As more of our wounded return home, we will be here to take care of them. On behalf of the wounded we so proudly serve, thank you” for supporting this organization.

More information about Wounded Heroes Program of Maine can be found at www.warriorlegacyfoundation.org or by calling Pam at 468-1026.

You also may ask for information at, or send a donation to, Wounded Heroes Program of Maine, P.O Box 1181, Biddeford 04005.

WHPM is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization.

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