June 21, 2018
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Maine soldiers turn out for Toby Keith concert, resource fair

By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — Command Sgt. Maj. Scott Doyon and Master Sgt. John Brooks started every morning in Afghanistan 10 years ago listening to Toby Keith’s album “Shock and Y’all.” The hit single off the 2003 album was “American Soldier.”

The full-time members of the Maine Army National Guard and their wives were among 300 people who received discounted tickets to Keith’s concert Monday night at the Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion.

“First thing every morning, we turned it on,” Brooks said. “It’s motivating.”

Doyon, 40, of Clinton, and Brooks, 42, of Glenburn, together have deployed overseas nine times in their careers, three times together since Sept. 11, 2001.

Brooks said before the concert began that he saw Keith in 2011 when he performed on the Bangor waterfront, the summer the concert series premiered. Doyon was to see the country music star live for the first time.

Both men said they were looking forward to seeing Keith perform more because of what he stands for than his music.

“He seems like he stands behind his word,” Brooks said. “He has integrity and speaks his mind. He seems like he’s one of us.”

Keith, 52, has performed more than 150 USO shows overseas. He began this summer’s “Put the Hammer Down” tour June 8 in Arkansas.

Doyon and Brooks stopped by a tent near the bulkhead on the waterfront set up by the Bangor chapter of the Maine Military and Community Network. Representatives from 20 organizations that help current military members, veterans and their families with everything from student financial aid to health care to help finding a job were on hand for two hours before the show was set to start at 7 p.m.

The resource fair was made possible by Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve — a program of the Department of Defense — and with the cooperation and support of the Waterfront Concerts organization, according to Nathaniel Grace, community liaison with the Maine National Guard.

“You’d be surprised at how many of our former servicemen and women are unaware of the help that is available to them,” Grace said last week. “Our goal is to get service members connected with the people who can help them find jobs, get health care and other benefits that are owed to them.”

Grace said the organization chose to have the fair at Keith’s show rather than one of another artist because the country musician has been a strong supporter of active military personnel and of veterans.

“Toby really gets it,” Grace said. “He frequently supports military and veteran families, not only through his music, but also through his work in the communities he visits,”

Keith’s concert in July 2011 drew nearly 15,000 people to the Bangor waterfront, according to a previously published report. Two years ago, the Maine chapter of Operation Homefront, a national organization that provides emergency financial and other assistance to the families of service members and wounded warriors, purchased 100 tickets to that concert. The tickets were given away to Mainers serving part-time in the military.

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