Legislature steps up to help Maine veterans

By Sen. Kimberley Rosen

Before I get into the details of what is happening in Augusta, I would like to take a moment to sincerely thank our community for entrusting me with their support and affording me the opportunity to represent them in the Maine Senate over these last four years. I have truly enjoyed the chance to work to make a difference so more families have the opportunity to earn a decent living and raise their children here.

We are still largely in the same boat today as we were when we adjourned in April, with the Senate standing by to return to work. I am hopeful we will return soon, as there has been some movement recently. The Budget Committee has been called back to the state Capitol to negotiate a framework to complete the outstanding work still before us, which includes direct care funding, nursing home funding, tax conformity, education funding and the transportation bond, to name a few.

While there is a lot of important work still ahead, we have accomplished a lot this session to benefit Maine veterans that I am incredibly proud of.

The first new law, which soared through the Legislature with unanimous support and went into law without the Governor’s signature, is “An Act Regarding Mental Health Care for Maine Veterans.”

As a result of this new law, the Maine Bureau of Veterans Services has launched a pilot program to provide mental health care and case management services to Maine veterans. This new program is open to all veterans and is free of charge to all who need mental health treatment or help navigating the mental health system.

Another bill that enjoyed unanimous support in both chambers and became law without the Governor’s signature is LD 1327, “An Act to Expedite Health Care Employment for Medical Veterans.”

This new law will help ease Maine’s imminent nursing shortage while utilizing the valuable health care training provided by our armed forces by making it easier for Maine’s 400 or so veterans who have received medic training to transfer their skills and training to civilian life.

Under this new law, a program will be established to match qualified veterans with employers so they can continue their education and training through apprenticeships, ultimately securing positions in local hospitals and with local health care providers.

Another bill that passed through the process unanimously and is waiting for funding on the Special Appropriations Table is “An Act to Broaden Educational Opportunities for Members of the Maine National Guard.”

This bill would expand upon a law that passed in 2016 that provides Maine National Guard members with free in-state tuition to colleges within the University of Maine System, Maine Community College System and the Maine Maritime Academy, expanding the program to allow Maine’s private postsecondary institutions to participate as well. I am hopeful that once we return, this bill will receive the funding that it needs to go to the Governor’s desk for final consideration.

Please help me spread the word by sharing this information with local veterans. If you are a veteran and you have any questions about any of these measures, don’t hesitate to contact my office at 287-1505.

Republican Sen. Kimberley Rosen of Bucksport is serving her second term in the Maine Senate. She is the chairwoman of the Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee and also serves on the Transportation and Marijuana Legalization Implementation Committees.

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