January 26, 2022
You can watch the interview here
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Office of U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) today released the January edition of “Answering the Call: Maine’s Veteran Voices,” Senator King’s monthly series in which he shares the stories of the lives, selfless service, and sacrifice of Maine’s veteran community. In the third interview of the series, conducted in partnership with the Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project, Senator King spoke with Scarborough resident Chris McGhee who spent 20 years in the Air Force, is an advocate for veterans and servicemembers, and a third year UMaine Law School student. During the interview, Chris told the Senator his story of growing up in poverty, and then advancing through the military to a life he always dreamed of thanks to the opportunities of the Air Force and the GI Bill.
“It was a true privilege to speak with Chris McGhee for the third episode of ‘Answering the Call: Maine’s Veteran Voices.’ His extraordinary life story shows the opportunities of the Armed Services, and the importance of providing our servicemember the support they deserve both while they’re serving, and after they retire,” said Senator King. “Since retiring, Chris has continued to serve his communities through his support and advocacy for our men and women in uniform – particularly by helping address the scourge of suicide. I’m deeply grateful for his decades of service and sacrifice, and I look forward to working together with him to address the issues facing America’s veterans and servicemembers."
Born in inner-city Saint Louis and raised by a single mother, Chris McGhee spent much of his childhood in Section 8 housing and at one point a homeless shelter. As a child, Chris didn't see many opportunities ahead of him, and saw the military as the wisest path to a professional career. So, at 18, he enlisted in the Air Force straight out of high school. Not knowing what it was he wanted to do in the Air Force, Chris was selected for aircraft maintenance.
When he joined the Air Force, Chris started in the most basic maintenance roles. There, he learned he had a natural affinity for the cerebral aspect of aircraft maintenance like troubleshooting complex issues. As time went on he grew as a leader, and became the Lead Production Supervisor at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, where he supervised over 200 personnel, organized the maintenance effort for a fleet of aircraft, and implemented a complex maintenance plan. He also worked to find other young servicemembers who were like him, and he thought could have a leadership career ahead of them with the right support.
In 2018, after 20 years of service, Chris retired from the Air Force and knew that he wanted to continue his career of helping others, especially veterans and servicemembers. Chris Moved to Maine and started as a Veterans Upward Bound Advisor at USM, where he helped aspiring and current veteran students achieve their academic goals, and coach them on what career opportunities may exist for them after college. Using the GI bill, Chris enrolled in Maine Law where he is now nearing the end of his third year. He knows he wants to use his law degree to continue advocating for those who need help, including veterans and servicemembers. As Chris tells it, his military service, and the GI bill turned his life around, and has given him opportunities he wishes more Americans could have.
The Veterans History Project is an effort by the Library of Congress and the American Folklife Center to collect, preserve and distribute the personal accounts of American war veterans so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war. The interviews and primary documents from the project are then used by researchers, historians, students, and filmmakers across the country. Senator King joins many other Members of Congress who’ve participated in the project.
As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator King has been a staunch advocate for America’s servicemembers and veterans. Just last week, the Senate passed the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act, that included King-backed provisions to raise servicemember pay 2.7% and expand parental leave. Senator King recently introduced the Save Our Servicemembers (S.O.S.) Act, which would work to improve Department of Defense’s servicemember suicide prevention efforts. Last year, the Senate unanimously passed legislation cosponsored by Senator King that will designate 9-8-8 as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and Veterans Crisis line. Senator King has also worked to create a first-of-its-kind Senate fellowship program for wounded American veterans, and has worked to improve the services for Maine veterans across the state, including at the Togus campus in Augusta.