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As the chair of the Maine Veterans’ Homes board of trustees, I am writing to implore the Maine Legislature to fund LD 985. This bill provides $3.4 million of critical funding that, when matched with federal funds, closes a $10.3 million gap between cost of care and MaineCare reimbursement rates.
Last year, at the Legislature’s request and in collaboration with the commissioner of defense, veterans and emergency management and the commissioner of health and human services, I led a group of relevant stakeholders to develop a plan for the long-term viability and continuous operation of Maine Veterans’ Homes across the state.
The stakeholder’s group made six recommendations to the Maine Veterans’ Homes board. The board unanimously adopted the recommendations because we agreed with the Legislature — that the Maine Veterans’ Homes system of care must remain open in all six locations.
However, the key stakeholder recommendation, the one that makes all the other recommendations possible, is for the Legislature to sustainably fund the homes. LD 985 makes this possible. It provides critical funding and keeps our promise to care for those who served our state and nation’s military.
On this Fourth of July long weekend, when flags are flying and we pause to honor American independence, I ask the question: What are the lives of those whose service and sacrifice secured our freedom worth?
I dare say the value is far more than the $3.4 million needed to sustain the system of care that serves Maine veterans and their families towards the end of their lives.
We must insist on funding LD 985! It’s a small price to pay to honor those who nobly served to protect our democracy and freedom.
Donald O. Lagace Jr.
Retired brigadier general
Maine Veterans’ Homes board of trustees