January 26, 2024
AUGUSTA, ME — U.S. Senator Angus King, a member of the Senate Veterans‘ Affairs Committee, today held a field hearing at the University of Maine at Augusta (UMA) to discuss the current state of veterans care and resources, along with proposals to address workforce shortages within the long term care industry at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) and in the community. The hearing provided a unique opportunity for the Committee to better understand the challenges facing the VA and veterans in Maine and what the federal government can do to address them.
“Maine is home to one of the largest populations of veterans in the country, so it is fitting that the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee held a field hearing right here in Augusta,” said Senator King. “We had productive discussions ranging from expanding the VA workforce through nursing programs to bolstering telehealth access for rural veterans and easing the transition to civilian life. While the committee can and does hear from federal officials in Washington, D.C., it’s just as important to hear directly from people living the care and providing the care, day in and day out – who don’t have time to travel to Capitol Hill. By getting this frontline feedback, we can better serve those who served this nation.”
The hearing, which consisted of two panels, featured testimonies from:
• Scotte R. Hartronft, MD, MBA, FACP, FACHE, CPE, Executive Director, Office of Geriatrics and Extended Care, Veterans Health Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs
• Annette Beyea, DO, MPH, Associate Chief of Staff, Geriatrics and Extended Care & Community Living Center, Togus VA Medical Center
• Sharon Fusco, Chief Executive Officer, Maine Veterans’ Homes
• Colleen Hilton, President, Northern Light Home Care and Hospice
• Mike Pooler, Army Veteran
• Steven SanPedro, National Council Member, Maine Veterans of Foreign Wars
• Joy Barresi Saucier, RN, MHA, FACHE, Executive Director, Aroostook Agency on Aging
• Paul Saucier, Director, Office of Aging and Disability Services, Maine Department of Health and Human Services
• Kathleen Swinbourne, Family Caregiver
Representing a state with one of the highest rates of veterans per capita, Senator King is a staunch advocate for America’s servicemembers and veterans. As the newest member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, one of his first actions was to hold a “Kickoff Conversation” with Maine veterans and organizations at an American Legion post last February. He works to ensure American veterans receive their earned benefits and that the VA is properly implementing various programs such as the PACT Act, the State Veterans Homes Domiciliary Care Flexibility Act, the John Scott Hannon Act and the introduction of the bipartisan TAP Promotion Act. Last year, King introduced bipartisan legislation to support veterans with mental traumas, as well as celebrated President Biden signing his legislation into law, which increases benefits for veterans and military families.