Every election year political candidates talk about supporting our military troops and take every opportunity to thank America’s veterans for their service.
As veterans whose military service spans six decades, we appreciate the recognition. But we also know we need to look beyond the political rhetoric and examine every candidate’s record on important issues for veterans—issues such as health care, education and employment.
Here in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, we expect detailed attention to veterans’ issues from our congressional representative. That type of commitment is what former congressman and ranking member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee Mike Michaud provided to all those who served our country. In taking a close look at incumbent Congressman Bruce Poliquin’s record, we’ve concluded that, unlike Michaud, he’s failed to represent the best interests of veterans. As a clear indication of where his interests do lie, Poliquin sought committee assignments on the House Committee on Financial Services and the Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises.
During his current campaign for re-election, Poliquin spends a good deal of time espousing his support for America’s vets—but his record in Congress tells a slightly different story.
Poliquin joined his Republican colleagues in support of an appropriations bill that, according to Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald, would underfund the VA by more than $1 billion and adversely affect health benefits for some 70,000 veterans. He also voted against an amendment to increase VA funding for veterans’ medical services by $15 million.
He voted against protections for VA whistleblowers who bravely step forward to expose discrimination or malfeasance at the VA, and this at a time when the VA has been riddled with scandals and cover-ups.
Perhaps the most disturbing position that Poliquin has taken is his support of banks and Wall Street at the expense of veterans. His votes in Congress make it harder for veterans and military service members to seek justice for predatory lending practices and to have protection from fraudulent lending scams.
We believe Maine’s veterans deserve better. That’s why we’re supporting Democrat Emily Cain for Congress. Cain’s record on veteran issues during her 10 years in the Maine House and Senate is outstanding. She is especially proud to have sponsored the bill that made veterans in retirement homes eligible for tax relief. She also co-sponsored legislation to ensure veterans can attend Maine colleges with in-state tuition rates.
Her votes were consistently pro-veteran, including increasing the property tax exemption for veterans, increasing leave time for spouses of military personnel and increasing emergency grants for veterans in a crisis.
As a member of Congress, we can count on Cain to work diligently on the important issues for Maine’s more than 140,000 veterans and military retirees. She’ll have our back, not Wall Street’s.
Cain will ensure that the VA has the funding and facilities it needs to give veterans the care they need and earned. She will demand increased oversight of the VA and hold it accountable for staffing shortages at veteran’s centers before veterans get turned away and experience a crisis. She will also support investment in job creation, workforce training and expanding access to higher education for vets. And she will be a strong advocate for Maine’s military families.
As a legislator, Cain always demonstrated compassion and concern for all of her constituents. But for veterans, that sense of compassion and concern strikes a strong personal note. Her family has a long and distinguished history of military service. Both of her grandfathers were veterans of World War II, one a Marine who fought at Iwo Jima. Her uncle, Spencer Cain, served in the Army in Vietnam and her cousin, Jeff Hecker, was a Marine in Afghanistan.
Veterans’ issues aren’t the only reason that Cain is the best choice for Congress. She’s committed to issues that are important to all Mainers—protecting our jobs and preventing outsourcing, protecting the quality of our environment, providing more affordable education opportunities for our youth and stemming the tide of dark money and corporate influence in American politics.
It’s time to take back our voice in Congress and send a representative to Washington who we can trust to side with veterans instead of big money interests. Veterans can count on Cain.
Charles Pray served in the U.S. Air Force from 1966-70. Jim Frick served in the U.S Army from 1965-68. Veterans George O’Keefe served in the Maine Army National Guard from 2005 to present; Bettyann Sheats in the Army from 1984-1991; Jared Golden in the U.S. Marines from 2002-2006; and Mark Evans in the Army from 1981-2016, also contributed to this OpEd. All are from Maine.