As lawmakers and members of the Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee, we see the challenges that Maine’s service members often face when they return home to civilian life.

As fellow veterans, we are committed to policies that help our fellow servicemen and servicewomen make that transition successfully.

The Legislature will soon consider four measures resulting from the work of a special commission that took a hard look at how Maine is delivering services to our veterans. The slate of bills addresses investment in the Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services as well as homelessness, transportation and higher education.

The Commission to Strengthen and Align Services Provided to Maine’s Veterans brought together legislators of both parties, state officials and representatives of veterans of different ages and genders with the common goal of improving the lives of Maine veterans. It was created by legislation from Rep. Jared Golden, D-Lewiston, a Marine Corps veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan who has seen firsthand the needs of this generation.

It’s clear that many of Maine’s veterans are falling through the cracks. The state Bureau of Veterans’ Services serves as a clearinghouse of available resources but lacks the resources it needs to keep up with the evolving needs of veterans.

Of the estimated 140,000 veterans in Maine, a staggering 76,500 are not enrolled with the federal Department of Veterans Affairs. This means more than half of our veterans are not benefiting from the federal health care and services that they have earned. It also means the state has a lot of legwork to do if it’s going to reach those tens of thousands of veterans.

Under LD 1612, the bureau would gain two mobile veterans’ services officers and add marketing and outreach to its core functions. Maine has only one veterans’ services officer for every 20,000 veterans in the state — far fewer of these officers than in other states. The efforts of veterans’ services officers are hindered by the bureau’s lack of a modern case management system. The bill would provide the bureau with an electronic records management system.

Every veteran deserves a place to call home. Returning home after service can be an extremely difficult transition. Too many service members struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder, and some find themselves without a job and living on the streets.

There are many programs to help combat homelessness among veterans, but they are not offered in one place. LD 1611 creates the position of homeless coordinator in the Bureau of Veterans’ Services, who will be a member of the Statewide Council on Homelessness. The bill also directs the bureau to develop a statewide strategy to end homelessness among veterans.

Maine is a large, rural state, and access to jobs, mental health care and other services can be limited when veterans don’t have access to reliable transportation. We know that current transportation programs are not meeting the needs of veterans, particularly those in rural Maine.

LD 1602 looks at the feasibility of a regional transportation pilot program. It sets up a working group to develop a proposal and report back to the Legislature next year.

LD 1625, meanwhile, aims to ease the transition from the military to institutions of higher learning. Veterans arrive on campuses with exceptional skills and experience, but they are also nontraditional students in a different stage of life in a drastically different environment. This bill looks at how our public institutions of higher education can succeed in retaining and graduating veteran-students. It directs the University of Maine and the Maine Community College systems to develop a set of best practices and make their recommendations to lawmakers next year.

These efforts to improve the lives of Maine veterans have been riding a wave of bipartisan support. The commission and the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee crafted the bills, and we on the committee gave them our unanimous endorsement. The policy committees are now sending them to the full Legislature with unanimous support.

We are proud of the many resources available in Maine, but we know we can do better. Passing these bills will help our servicemen and women, who put their lives on the line to protect our freedom. Let’s keep the momentum going on these bills for our veterans.

Rep. Robert Saucier, D-Presque Isle, is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force who also served for 24 years in the Maine Army National Guard, including as commander of C Battery in Fort Kent and of Headquarters Battery in Caribou. He has served on the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee for each of his two terms. Rep. John Schneck, D-Bangor, is a Vietnam War-era veteran who served in the U.S. Navy. He is a second-term member of the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee.