Any honorably discharged veterans will be allowed to shop online for discounted military exchange products starting Veterans Day, Nov. 11, under a policy change recently announced by the Department of Defense. As many as 16 million veterans stand to benefit from this policy change.

Several million veterans are already eligible to shop in exchanges on base or online because they are active or reserve component retirees, 100-percent disabled from service-connected injuries or ailments, or Medal of Honor recipients. Guidance will be announced before November for veterans to verify their access eligibility.

This Veterans Online Shopping Benefit is a way to recognize the contributions of all who served. Expanded access to veterans is expected to at least double exchanges’ online presence, helping to attract better terms from vendors, more competitive merchandise assortments and improved efficiencies.

Christening of USS Thomas Hudner

The Arleigh-Burke class destroyer is being named in honor of retired U.S. Naval Aviator Capt. Thomas Hudner, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in trying to save the life of his wingman, Ensign Jesse L. Brown, during the Battle of Chosin Reservoir in the Korean War. The christening ceremony will take place Saturday, April 1, at 11:30 a.m. at the Bath Iron Works Shipyard in Bath. Gates will open at 10:30 a.m.

Veteran art exhibit

You still have time to visit the University of Maine Hutchinson Center in Belfast to view the artwork of many of our Maine veterans. This exhibit will be on display through March 10.  Don’t miss this unique opportunity right here in Belfast to view the talent and creativity of our veterans.

Veteran Farmers events

The United Farmer Veterans of America Maine will host a breakfast Saturday, March 4, from 8:30 to 11 a.m. at their location, 45 Columbia St., Bangor. This farm-fresh breakfast is open to everyone and a donation would be greatly appreciated to help cover the cost of food and give our veteran farmers a hand as they build a healthier community for all of us. Please help support those who served to protect our freedoms.

A Veteran & Criminal Justice Forum will be held Saturday, March 25, presented by the United Farmer Veterans and the Columbia Street Project at 45 Columbia St., Bangor. This forum will provide an opportunity to discuss issues facing veterans. Kennebec County Sheriff Ken Mason, Penobscot County Sheriff Troy Morton, and Maine Warden Randy Liberty will present in the forum. Warden John Ford and Trooper Mark Nickerson will be present to sign copies of their books. A veteran farm-to-table dinner will be served from 5 to 6 p.m. For more information on these two events, please contact Jerry Ireland at ufvmain@gmail.com

Joy Asuncion is a retired 20-year veteran of the U.S. Navy, an Honor Flight Maine Board member and a Maine Troop Greeter. You can reach Joy at joyasuncion@roadrunner.com or 930-5640.