Togus VA Rings In 150th Anniversary This November
Togus VA in Chelsea, Maine is celebrating its 150th anniversary come November! Togus has not only been around for 150 years, but was actually the nation's first Veterans Home ever established. According to Maine's VA history, Togus admitted their very first veteran on November 10, 1866.
Prior to becoming Togus Veterans Administration, the area was known as Togus Springs - a hotel resort. After the resort failed, the property was purchased by the government as part of Lincoln's plan to create National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers. According to VA history, Togus housed around 400 veterans. In 1868, however, a new building program was incorporated allowing accommodations for 3,000 veterans. In 1870, a 100-bed hospital portion was created, although this was never quite enough.
Some people may not realize Togus was more of a destination place filled with picnics, a zoo, Broadway shows, concerts, and more. Unfortunately, the number of Veterans requiring medical attention at the close of WWII left Togus adapting to become a full-service medical center.
Togus is home to Maine's only National Cemetery. With the West Cemetery opened in 1867 and the East Cemetery in 1947, both sides have been closed to burials since 1961. However, the Maine VA History website states, "Although it is a closed cemetery, we have buried widows of veterans in the past few years which meet very strict guidelines." There are 5,373 veterans who share this final resting place, many of which have received recognition for the service.
In 1989, Veteran Administration was renamed to Veteran Affairs and out of those changes came the Veteran Health Administration which strives to serve America's patriots in all needs. According to Maine's VA history, approximately 60% of medical residents receive some of their training from serving at VA hospitals around the nation. Today, these hospitals work to improve quality of life, treat PTSD, brain injuries, prevent suicide, and so much more. Alongside regular patient care, the VA has opened outpatient clinics as well as contributed towards medical research.
"Currently there are six community based outpatient clinics (CBOC) located throughout Maine," the Togus website states.Locations include Bangor, Calais, Caribou, Lincoln, Rumford and Saco as well as Mental Health Clinics in both Bangor and Portland.
Happy 150th Birthday Togus! And thank you for taking care of our veterans!
To help contribute to the veterans of Togus, volunteer or donate!