University of Southern Maine (USM) alumnus and has been named an American Red Cross of Maine 2019 Southern Maine 'Real Hero.'
Ege, director at the Maine State Approving Agency for Veterans Education Programs, was given the Service to the Armed Forces Award for his dedication to help veterans make the transition to civilian life, particularly in higher education.
Ege, who is also a former assistant coordinator of USM Veterans Services, said he was surprised to hear he was selected for the award.
“I don’t feel I do anything special, definitely not worthy of the title ‘hero,’” Ege said. “But, at the same time, it’s such an honor to know that my peers appreciate what I’ve done.”
Ege also received letters from U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King of Maine, as well as U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, congratulating him.
Chapters of the American Red Cross name their “Real Heroes” annually. They include teachers, military personnel, first responders and everyday citizens who demonstrate acts of heroism, courage, kindness and unselfish character in their service, according to the Red Cross.
Six individuals and one organization were given the honor in Southern Maine at the 21st annual Real Heroes Awards Breakfast, held in April.
“Each one of these Real Heroes has gone above and beyond in service to others,” said Patricia Murtagh, chief executive officer of the Maine Region of the American Red Cross. “What they have in common is that they are everyday people who performed extraordinary acts of kindness, compassion and selflessness. They embody the spirit at the heart of the American Red Cross.”
In a video with the Red Cross, available below, Ege described the disparity between service members and civilians, and discussed his work to help veterans ease back into civilian life once they leave the service.
“I’m just motivated to help my fellow veterans,” he later said. “The transition from service is a challenging thing, and anything I can do to help is just a drop in the bucket.”
During his time at USM, Ege worked to improve understanding among student veterans and the university’s faculty and staff. He expanded the Green Zone program, which works to give those faculty and staff information about the specific challenges facing veterans in academia.
He also helped found USM’s own chapter of the Student Veterans of America.
By Alan Bennett // Office of Public Affairs