Governor LePage Thanks Veterans Administration for Improving Services for Maine’s Veterans

December 13, 2017

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Contact: Julie Rabinowitz, Press Secretary, 207-287-2531

AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage thanked the Veterans Administration (VA) for approving additional staff to address suicide prevention, drug addiction and other issues facing Maine’s veterans.

“I thank Secretary Shulkin and Deputy Secretary Bowman for listening to our veterans and providing this needed support,” stated Governor LePage. “My administration has placed a priority on serving those who have sacrificed so much for our freedom, and I know that the Trump Administration places the same importance on honoring and supporting our veterans. The approval of these key positions sends the message to our veterans that we are here for you.”

Staff of the Maine Bureau of Veterans Services (BVS) have been involved with the Veterans Treatment Court and other transitional programs for Maine’s veterans. They have brought renewed federal attention to issues involving justice-connected veterans and their post-incarceration transition back into civilian life, including the lack of a dedicated, full-time health care for re-entry veterans specialist.

In response to Maine’s requests, the VA conducted additional analysis, including a review of the homeless population rate, incarceration issues, the veterans crisis-line call volume, and other co-existing risks that are evident in a rural state, such as the propensity for isolation, and concurred that Maine needed additional resources to serve veterans in crisis.

As a result of these ongoing efforts, in addition to a recently approved suicide prevention coordinator, Maine has received approval for a veterans justice outreach specialist and a health care for re-entry specialist.

“Coordination with the Veterans Treatment Court and justice-connected vets has been and will continue to be a major priority for our office,” stated BVS Director Adria Horn. “We are thrilled that our advocacy on behalf of the veterans justice outreach coordinator position will bring much-needed resources to our state. Secretary Shulkin has made Veteran Suicide a priority; it’s refreshing to see action being taken to address that priority.”

Governor LePage reminded veterans, “Some veterans avoid taking advantage of the benefits they have earned thinking that they should be reserved for another, more-deserving veteran. However, you and your families have earned these benefits through your service, and I encourage you to contact our own Bureau of Veterans’ Services if you ever have questions about your benefits or if you want to connect other veterans with resources in the state. The Bureau is here to assist all veterans in Maine – and that includes you, your family, and your friends.”

Veterans can go to http://www.maine.gov/veterans/ to access the benefits they have earned.