Memorial Day 2024

As Governor, I have met many people across this great state, but, boy, some of the most meaningful stories I have heard have been from our honored veterans — people who have served in all different branches of the military and all different parts of the world to preserve our country and protect our freedoms. 

This Memorial Day, I’ll be reflecting on those stories, remembering the veterans who sacrificed their lives for our freedoms, and renewing my commitment to make Maine the best state in the nation for our service members and their families.

This is Governor Janet Mills and thank you for listening.

Our state, you know, can proudly say that we’re home to one of the highest number of veterans per capita of any state in the country.

Well, when you consider Maine’s long and proud history of military service, I guess that comes as no surprise.

From the Revolutionary War to the Civil War to World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, Maine people have always defended our nation and its ideals, and our state has always shouldered its responsibility to protect our country. Going back to the Civil War, when more Maine people answered the call per capita than any other state in the country.

That proud history is reflected in the fact that our great veterans center—the medical center—Togus, was the very first veteran’s facility created by the United States government to house Union veterans after the Civil War.

My father served bravely during World War II in the Pacific Theater. My two uncles did as well. My father survived the biggest naval battle of World War II history, the Battle of Leyte Gulf. My brother served three tours of duty in Vietnam. So, as the daughter, niece, and sister of veterans, I always mark Memorial Day with both gratitude and grief. Gratitude that my loved ones came home from conflicts around the world and grief for the Maine service members who did not return.

As Governor, I have pledged to honor their memory by making sure that Maine better serves our veterans and our active duty service members.

So, through the Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services, we have re-established the Aides-De-Camp veterans’ advisory panel; we’ve expanded free dental care for veterans in need, and recently expanded that; we’ve created the Governor’s Challenge to coordinate behavioral health services and prevent suicides by veterans; and we’ve expanded our Homeless Veteran Coordinator team. Any veteran who is struggling to find affordable housing can reach out to the Bureau of Veterans Services for help. Through our Veterans and Community Connection Expos, we have also connected hundreds of service members, and veterans, and their families with resources, benefits, and peer groups to enrich their lives in this state.

Our Maine Department of Labor has connected veterans with employers through our annual Hire-A-Vet campaign and through the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, we’ve kept the Maine Veterans’ Homes in Caribou and Machias open for veterans and their spouses.

I’m proud of that progress, but there is always more we can do to support those who wore the uniform. My Administration will continue to push for better services for all Maine veterans and their families – all of whom have sacrificed so much to keep us safe.

So, this Memorial Day, let’s honor all of those who have faithfully served our state and our nation in the Armed Forces and those who gave, as President Lincoln said, ‘the last full measure of devotion’.  

To all those who have served and to all those who continue to serve our country: our gratitude is with you this Memorial Day, 2024. And our hearts are with those who are in our Veterans’ Homes and in care at our great facility at Togus – and to those who provide that care, as well.

God bless you all, and God bless the State of Maine.

This is Governor Janet Mills and thank you for listening.