Legislative Support of Veterans in Maine
2019 Legislative Update
The Maine Bureau of Veterans' Services is a committed public advocate for veterans, service members and their families, as are many of our elected officials who serve the Maine State Legislature. During the First Regular Session of the 129th Legislature (which ran from January - June of 2019), several bills became law that positively affect our veteran population.
Over the last six months, we had the pleasure of working with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to expand Maine's Moose Lottery, which benefits wounded service members and veterans. The Bureau of Veterans' Services is also now permitted to accept donations to help fund the Disabled Veteran Controlled Moose Hunt, and holders of Gold Star Family vehicle registration plates may now be issued complimentary licenses to hunt, trap and fish. In addition to recreational opportunities, Gold Star Families will now be exempt from vehicle registration fees.
The Bureau also worked closely with the University of Maine System and Maine Community College System to expand educational opportunities to dependents and spouses of 100% permanent and totally disabled veterans. A child of a veteran who is attending state-supported postsecondary vocational schools or institutions of collegiate grade must be admitted free of tuition including mandatory fees and lab fees for associate certificate programs, associate degree programs and bachelor's degree programs. The tuition waiver provided under this paragraph may not exceed the cost of 120 undergraduate credit hours at the in-state tuition rate at the University of Maine campus located at Orono.
Lastly, much has been done over the last year to reduce the number of homeless veterans across the state. In an effort to continue that progress, the Legislature created the Veterans' Homelessness Prevention Coordination Program. The program will provice ongoing funding for reimbursements to a human services-based volunteer organization that provides transitional housing to veterans who are homeless.
The State of Maine provides nearly 20 different programs for veterans, including property tax exemptions, free education for dependents of 100% permanent and totally disabled veterans, and complimentary hunting licenses. We are proud advocates for Maine veterans and we at the Bureau look forward to working with our partners to continue expanding our offerings and services. To check out a list of resources nearest you, please visit our Resources Page.
Legislation Passed in 2018
On January 1, 2018 Maine hospitals began implementing a pilot program to identify veterans in need of mental and behavioral health care. The Department of Health and Human Services, in coordination with the Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services, has entered into contracts with both EasterSeals Maine and Health Affiliates Maine in an effort to ensure a statewide network of case management is established, which will provide coordinated mental health care services to Maine veterans.
The new law provides funding for tuition assistance to Maine National Guard members attending state postsecondary education institutions and private postsecondary education institutions.
The law also funds the Veterans Temporary Assistance Fund, which will provide funding for financial assistance to veterans. $250,000 will be available to help veterans and their families in need of immediate financial assistance across the State of Maine.