November 11, 2017
CARIBOU, ME – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) today joined Maine veterans and members of the community for a service at the Northern Maine Veterans’ Ceremony in Caribou to honor the men and women who have served in defense of the United States. Senator King provided keynote remarks and participated in the wreath laying ceremony at the cemetery.
"Maine has a long and storied history of military service. During the Civil War, Maine sent a higher proportion of its citizens to combat than any other state in the Union," Senator King said. "To this day, Maine continues this tradition of service, with one of the highest numbers of veterans per capita in the United States. With such a strong, first-hand understanding of the contributions of veterans to our communities in Maine, our commitment to service also extends to an unwavering dedication to meeting the needs of the veterans and their families who sacrificed to keep us safe. The greatest expression of gratitude to the neighbors, friends and family who bravely served to protect our national security and the freedoms we enjoy is to reaffirm our commitment to those veterans who struggle with unemployment, poverty, and difficulties in accessing healthcare. Let this Veterans Day be a call to action that not only on this revered day in our Nation’s history, but each and every day, we must rededicate ourselves to caring for the veterans and their families who have sacrificed on our behalf.?"
With the closest National Veterans’ Cemetery more than 450 miles away in Bourne, MA and the closest State Veterans’ Cemetery nearly 250 miles away in Augusta, the Northern Maine Veterans’ Cemetery is critical to providing continued service for the approximately 7,800 veterans and their families in Northern Maine.
This week, Senator King announced his support for two pieces of legislation that will support and protect American veterans. The Protecting Veterans Credit Act of 2017, bipartisan legislation introduced by Senator Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), would protect the credit ratings of veterans wrongly penalized by medical bill payment delays by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The Military and Veterans Education Protection Act prevents targeting of veterans by low-quality, for-profit universities by closing the loophole that allows for-profit schools to avoid securing at least 10 percent of their revenue from non-federal sources. The current loophole excludes the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Department of Defense (DOD) education funds, like the Post-9/11 GI Bill and Tuition Assistance (TA), from being counted as federal funds.
Since arriving in Washington, Senator King has been a strong advocate for veterans issues. Through his work on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator King has supported multiple amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that support American veterans. In the Fiscal Year 2018 NDAA, Senator King cosponsored an amendment authored by Senator Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) that would encourage cooperation and integration between the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense with their electronic health care record systems to improve the transition from active duty to veteran status and ensure that veterans won’t have to wait to gain access to the health care services they have earned. He also supported an amendment authored by Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.) that would encourage the Secretaries of Veterans Affairs and Defense to assess the feasibility of establishing a joint office to house an interagency task force on suicide prevention. Senator King supports the coordination between the departments so that those who have served do not slip through the cracks. He is a strong supporter of the Veterans Choice Program, which helps veterans across Maine and the nation receive health care within their communities and allows veterans in Northern Maine to continue to utilize community care as they did under the Access Received Closer to Home (ARCH) pilot. In August, the President signed into law Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act, legislation he cosponsored that would overhaul the Department of Veteran Affairs’ (VA) appeals process.
Following the service, Senator King is attending the Harvest Festival at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor to hear from Maine agriculture stakeholders, farmers, food processors and brewers. Senator King will then join members of the Maine Potato Board for a press conference on the CREAATE Act, bipartisan legislation he introduced in September that would increase funding to successful U.S. Department of Agriculture export promotion programs and help U.S. farmers maintain an edge in the increasingly competitive global marketplace. The bill would aid two of the USDA’s most successful programs, the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development Program (FMDP), by doubling their funding over five years.