For those who have worn the uniform of the United States of America, the Windham Veterans Center is a helpful resource and a place to gather with those who share the bond of military service to the nation.
A collaboration between American Legion Field-Allen Post 148 and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10643, the Windham Veterans Center was founded in the early 1990s as a place specifically for veterans to meet and receive assistance with veterans’ services and support. The Windham Veterans Association was formed as an organization to support the needs of both posts and in 1994 ground was broken for the construction of the Windham Veterans Center at 35 Veterans Memorial Drive, behind the Hannaford Supermarket Complex in North Windham Complex.
With a great deal of construction work performed by veterans and local contractor volunteers, the Windham Veterans Center opened in 1999 with the building debt free and the Windham Veterans Association owning a mortgage on the property which was paid off in 2009 through various fundraising activities.
According to Willie Goodman, the Commander of VFW Post 10643, the VFW is grateful to have the Windham Veterans Center in town.
“The VFW Post 10643 currently has 77 members. We sponsor Windham's Boy Scout Troop 805 and they use our facility to hold their meetings,” Goodman said. “The Boy Scouts are a part of our annual Veterans Day Program which is open to the public although the ability to hold this year's program may be impacted by Covid-19.”
He said the VFW sponsors annual essay contests open to all schools in the appropriate age groups as well as those being homeschooled, and the top winners are recognized with certificates and cash awards.
“All veterans are encouraged to contact the VFW for whatever their needs may be and either we will help them or know where to direct them,” Goodman said. “Even though we are located in Windham, the VFW slogan is ‘Veterans Helping Veterans’ and we strive to live by that motto so any veteran in any town should feel free to contact us. Many times, we find veterans who aren't aware of services they could benefit from or don't know who to call to answer specific questions they may have. Our members are more than comrades, they genuinely care about each other and we want veterans to reach out to us if we can be of any assistance.”
Goodman said that the Windham VFW meets the second Wednesday of each month at 6 p.m. at the Windham Veterans Center.
Eric Bickford, American Legion Field-Allen Post 148 commander, said that the Windham Veterans Center is a focal point and home for the organization, which was first created 82 years ago by local World War I veterans.
“The post has been immersed in veterans’ lives and the local community since 1938, providing the town’s Memorial Day events including the parade, ceremony at Windham High School and a splendid open house annual picnic at the Windham Veterans Center,” he said. “The highlight of each week is the Veteran's Coffee held each Wednesday at the Center for local veterans from 9 to 11 a.m. In addition to “Veterans Serving Veterans” the post has very active youth programs including American Legion baseball, Boys State, Windham Little League baseball and a soon-to-be-opened Youth Air Rifle Program.”
The Field-Allen Post meets on the first Wednesday of each month with a 5 p.m. social followed by a business meeting. All veterans are welcome.
Windham Veterans Association President Tom Theriault said association is made up of 10 members of the Board of Directors and that the facility is one of the few in America that is jointly operated by both the VFW and the American Legion.
Theriault said that what makes the center successful is the veterans themselves.
“They are there for each other and will listen when other veterans need to say something, or give advice when needed,” he said.”
The Windham Veterans Center also is a rental venue available with a 2,000-square-foot space for memorial services and other functions. If a loved one was a veteran, the Windham Veterans Center has the ability through the American Legion Honor Guard to provide additional honors along with the appropriate flags at memorial services held there.
The center also provides a monthly Veterans Service Officer support function on the second Wednesday of every month which will be resumed once the COVID-19 situation is resolved.
Therault said that the Regional Service Officer works out of the Portland Office but holds office hours in Windham on the second Wednesday of each month and any veteran may visit and receive information and learn about available veterans’ resources during that time.
For more information about the Windham Veterans Center, call 207-892-1159. For rentals, see ad below or contact Dave Tanguay at 207-939-0892 for details. <