PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — A planned expansion project at the Hayward-Frazier VFW Post 2599 home in Presque Isle will offer veterans such amenities as a physical fitness room, computer lab and library.
According to commander Randolph Michaud, the addition will be 72 feet long by 85 feet wide.
“Each day soldiers are coming home battered and bewildered from what they have experienced in missions overseas,” he said. “Long durations and multiple deployments away from home and family have put a heavy toll on these soldiers’ lives. We want to be able to give these veterans a place to call home, and we need to expand our building to accommodate the new members we are getting and to better serve the members we already have.
“The addition will have some new offices, it will expand the lounge and dance hall area out, and we’re going to have a VFW members-only area used for recreation and meetings,” Michaud continued.
A state-of-the-art physical fitness room will help veterans lead a healthier lifestyle, while a 12-computer lab will help returning veterans search for jobs, maintain their medical records and VA claims, learn basic computer skills, and be able to surf the Internet and interact with other people from around the world.
“We’ll also have a fully-stocked library where a veteran can come and enjoy a good book or maybe just the solitude of quietness or maybe just to relax in a safe environment,” Michaud said.
The computer-aided drafting students at Northern Maine Community College are creating the plans for the new facility.
“The students have been here twice taking measurements,” Michaud said, “and they’ve come up with a really good design.
“There’s no other VFW post in the country that’s going to have what we’re going to have in this one. This will truly be one-of-a-kind,” he added. “Our motto for the VFW is ‘Honor the dead by serving the living,’ and we can’t serve the living if we don’t do anything for them. This is our way of saying, ‘Come in here, mingle with us, and enjoy what we’re going to have here for you.’ I think that will go a long way in helping their home life.”
The total cost of the expansion project is expected to be $500,000.
“We’re going to be doing other fundraisers both this year and next, as well as looking at other sources of revenue such as grants,” Michaud said. “We’re hoping all of Aroostook County will get behind this project.”
The new addition will be called the Cpl. Dustin J. Libby Memorial Wing. Libby, who grew up in Castle Hill, died Dec. 6, 2006 in honorable service to his country during a firefight while stationed in Ar Ramadi, Iraq. He was 22.
“There will be other opportunities for families to name certain rooms and offices after loved ones,” Michaud said. “It would be a great way to honor a fallen veteran.”
Donations can be sent to the post at Hayward-Frazer VFW Post 2599, 6 State Road, Presque Isle, Maine 04769.
Michaud said he would like to break ground on the project next summer.