July 31, 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) connected with Maine student veterans from the University of Maine System (UMS) to share their unique perspective as non-traditional students – including some still serving in the Reserves – and additional challenges they have faced during the coronavirus pandemic. The students who participated in today’s call represent veterans from six campuses in the UMS: University of Maine, University of Maine at Augusta, University of Southern Maine, University of Maine at Fort Kent, University of Maine at Farmington, and Maine Law School.
“The student veterans who joined this call are some of our best and brightest, and we need to ensure that they have every opportunity to continue to make invaluable contributions to our nation for decades to come,” said Senator King. “With the coronavirus pandemic changing the way our students learn, today’s conversation highlighted ways we can better support our student veterans, from adjusting the way we pay out GI benefits for online classes, to how we accommodate non-traditional students who have family obligations exacerbated by school closures, to making sure communities across Maine have high-speed broadband access. I’m deeply grateful to those who joined today’s call, both for taking the time to fill me in on the challenges they face and for their years of service to our nation.”
Senator King has worked to make sure veterans receive the highest quality of care during the coronavirus crisis, and joined 16 of his colleagues in May to urge the Department of Veterans Affairs (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.
As the coronavirus pandemic has caused cancellations of schools across the nation, Senator King has pushed to improve distance learning. In March, Senator King sent a letter to the CEOs of eight major internet service providers (ISPs), calling on the companies to take steps to accommodate the unprecedented reliance we will likely see on telepresence services, including telework, online education, telehealth, and remote support services; in response to Senator King’s letter, several major ISPs took action to better support these remote technologies. Senator King has also made it a priority to engage with Maine people from all walks of life and helpful organizations to address questions surrounding the coronavirus pandemic and identify remaining work to be done. In May, he held tele-town hall, inviting all Maine people to call in toll-free, to listen and respond to questions about coronavirus response efforts. Since the Senate passed the CARES Act, he has participated in teleconferences and phone calls with:
· Maine educators, including the 16 Maine 2020 County Teachers of the Year, Maine Jump$tart Coalition’s two Finance Educators of the Year, MLTI Virtual Student Conference, and civics and history teachers from schools across Maine.
· Maine business leaders, including members of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association, Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce, the New England Council, 120 of Portland’s small business owners and 500 Maine employees of Sun Life.
· Maine seniors in a call hosted by AARP Maine
· Maine democracy-focused organizations, such as the Maine League of Women Voters.