Maine is home to more than 114,000 veterans, the second-highest percentage in the country
Click HERE for a high-resolution photo of Senator Collins and Mel Bates, Commander
Click HERE for a high-resolution photo of Senator Collins with Ronald Smith, Convention Chairman; Andre Dumas, State Adjutant; and Christopher Armstrong, State Commander
Bangor, ME — Today, U.S. Senator Susan Collins delivered remarks at the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Department of Maine’s 99th Annual State Convention Joint Opening Ceremony. The State Convention consists of a series of business meetings and updates on veterans issues. Approximately 100 VFW members, Auxiliary members, and guests attended the Joint Opening Ceremony.
“Around our state and in our communities, the VFW provides support to patriots serving today, as well as to their families, and offers a helping hand to those who served in the past,” said Senator Collins. “Each of you, through your service, makes me proud to be a life member of the VFW Auxiliary in my hometown of Caribou.”
“The men and women who defend our freedom have so much to offer after their service in uniform is done. Their discipline, loyalty, and integrity are assets our nation cannot afford to squander,” Senator Collins continued. “By assisting our veterans as they rejoin civilian life, we strengthen our society in ways beyond measure. Our debt to them can never be fully repaid, but the 75th anniversary of D-Day earlier this month was a powerful reminder to renew our commitment, as a nation and as individual citizens.”
During the ceremony, Senator Collins recognized this year’s two Maine winners of the VFW’s Voice of Democracy and Patriots’ Pen Essay Competition. The Patriot’s Pen essay competition is open to all students in grades 6-8, with a top award of $5,000 and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C.
Earlier this month, Senator Collins took part in the official, bipartisan Senate delegation to Normandy, France, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion by Allied forces during World War II. During the trip, Senator Collins met with Maine World War II veterans who made the trip for the occasion, including Charles Shay, a Penobscot Tribal Elder who served as a combat medic during the D-Day invasion and is the namesake for the Charles Shay Indian Memorial in Normandy that honors the service of Native Americans during World War II, and Henry Breton, an Augusta veteran who was one of four brothers to serve during World War II. Senator Collins also had the opportunity to meet with Madawaska native Scott Desjardins, the superintendent of the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial.
Throughout her Senate service, Senator Collins has advocated for members of the military and their families as well as military caregivers. Earlier this year, Senators Collins, Jones, Tester, and Crapo (R-ID) introduced the Military Widow’s Tax Elimination Act of 2019, which would repeal the unfair law that prevents as many as 65,000 surviving military spouses nationwide—including 263 in Maine—from receiving their full Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs survivor benefits.
The Department of Maine VFW, established in 1921, is a nonprofit veterans service organization for eligible veterans and military servicemembers from the active, guard, and reserve forces.