November 11, 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) released the following statement in honor of Veterans Day:
“After observing American troops defend Baltimore Harbor from the British Navy during the War of 1812, Francis Scott Key put pen to paper and created our national anthem. It is telling that he chose to write the last lines of the first stanza in the form of a question:
“O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
“O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
“He did so, I believe, to illustrate that the United States can only be the land of the free if it is also the home of the brave. Without brave men and women committed to protecting our country, we cannot enjoy the many freedoms we hold dear. On this Veterans Day, may we commit ourselves to celebrating these men and women and honoring their service to our country.
“Veterans Day this year also comes in the midst of a pandemic. So as we reflect, with gratitude and remembrance, on the sacrifices of American servicemembers and their families, we must also endeavor to provide the care and services they are afforded. Here in Maine, as the days get shorter and colder, we must work harder than ever to care for our neighbors and friends across the state. If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health issues, unemployment, or lack of access to health care please know that there is an entire community of Maine people here to support you. Do not hesitate to reach out—whether it be to my office, the VA, a fellow veteran, or a family member.
“For my part, I will continue to push for expanded telehealth services at the VA and to ensure that the VA Maine Healthcare System has the testing kits and PPE necessary to manage the coronavirus and safely expand its in-person capabilities. During this unprecedented time, I am also deeply thankful for the dedicated service of veterans’ advocates, Veterans Service Organizations, and VA Maine employees who have not faltered in their work on behalf of Maine veterans.
“More than two hundred years after Francis Scott Key wrote “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the question he poses still rings true. Let us join together on this Veterans Day to give thanks to the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen who have bravely served so we may be free.”
Senator King has worked to make sure veterans receive the highest quality of care during the coronavirus crisis. In September, Senator King called on Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert Wilkie to provide coverage of comprehensive telehealth services, including voice communication, for beneficiaries of the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA). In August, he cosponsored the TRICARE Prescription Relief Act, legislation that would authorize the Secretary of Defense to waive prescription cost-sharing requirements for military servicemembers, veterans, and their families during a declared national or public health emergency. He joined 16 of his colleagues in May to urge the VA to ramp up coronavirus testing at VA facilities nationwide and establish a framework for a large-scale strategy for national testing. He has also joined the Maine delegation to urge the VA to prioritize providing additional testing kits and PPE to the VA Maine Healthcare System, and pushed the VA to improve telehealth services during the pandemic. In April, he successfully urged the Treasury Department to ensure that recipients of benefits through the VA will receive their CARES Act stimulus payment with no additional action required.