LAUNCH: The Vet to Vet program was conceived by Southern Maine Agency on Aging’s Volunteer Services manager Carol Rancourt and developed by VISTA volunteer Susan Gold, under SMAA’s auspices. Vet to Vet launched its first team of 13 veteran volunteers in May 2014, matching them to fellow veterans based on branch of service, shared interests, work and volunteer history, and other considerations. Gold managed the program as part-time coordinator at SMAA for the next four years. In 2016 the program won the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging’s Aging Achievement Award. In 2017 Vet to Vet volunteers spent almost 2,000 hours visiting with aging and disabled veterans in their homes at least twice a month, swapping stories, and becoming friends.
TRANSITION TO VET TO VET MAINE: In 2018 the Vet to Vet Shared Leadership Team, created as an informal Vet to Vet board at SMAA, decided to establish a nonprofit organization to manage the growing Vet to Vet program. In June 2018, the board incorporated as Vet to Vet Maine. A Memorandum of Understanding authorized the transfer of the Vet to Vet program from SMAA to Vet to Vet Maine as of October 1, 2018. In March 2019 Vet to Vet Maine became a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization. Susan Gold serves as volunteer executive director with a 10-member board of directors, nine of whom are veterans. From Oct. 2018 to Aug. 2021, Vet to Vet Maine volunteers have spent 15,800 hours dedicated to the organization’s mission of improving the lives of Maine’s veterans. During that time, Vet to Vet Maine peer companions have served 154 veterans in need of a friend.
FUTURE: Vet to Vet Maine is working to expand services to veterans of all ages and throughout the state of Maine.