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Southern Maine Chapter Newsletter

   June 2023

Vol 38  No. 2


Index (Scroll down through the newsletter or click on a section to go directly there.)

President’s Page

Greetings everyone!  So happy that the warm weather has arrived, and our beautiful Maine Summer is just around the corner!    I have a lot to share with you this month – I’ll begin with a quick re-cap of our March 25th luncheon.  We had our best turnout in years for this meeting, around 55 people attended.  We had two great speakers – the Executive Director of the Veterans Business Administration Jennifer, Bover and Teague Morris, Outreach Director for Senator King.  Teague fielded a lot of great questions from the crowd and shared the exciting news about Senator King’s recent appointment to the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  Jennifer and her Assistant Director, Mike Brawn, gave a very informative brief on the PACT-ACT (Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxins) and explained all the new conditions that can are now considered presumptive for benefits.  Even if you have been denied benefits in the past, Jennifer is urging ALL Maine veterans to file a new claim under the PACT-ACT.  You can reach the Togus Regional Benefits Office at (207) 621-6938.

I also wanted to let you know that in April, our Chapter 1st Vice President, Dave Patch, and I travelled to Washington, DC, to participate in the MOAA Annual Advocacy in Action Event.  Dave and I met with all our Congressional Offices and shared the MOAA priorities for 2023, as well as local issues.  Some photos of the event are included in this newsletter.  Dave and I learned a lot about our great organization that we feel will really benefit our Chapter.

Also, our next luncheon is scheduled for Saturday, September 16th at the Maine Audubon Society in Falmouth!  Please mark your calendars now for what I know will be a wonderful event.  We will have a presentation from the Audubon Society that will include a short, guided walking tour around the property.  Feel free to bring a guest or three!  More details will follow in the next newsletter about the luncheon.  We are also invited to participate again in the NH Chapter Annual Lobsterbake, which will be held on the 5th of August at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.  We will share the flyer for that event as soon as it is available!

Finally, I wanted to let you know that we are embarking on a major fundraising event this summer!  On August 16th we will hold a golf tournament at the Dune Grass Country Club in Old Orchard Beach.  We need to replenish our coffers so that we can continue to support our ROTC scholarships, as well as other veterans’ organizations.  We are going to need a lot of help form the Chapter for this event!  If you are a golfer, or know some golfers, we hope that you will consider getting a team together.  More information on the golf tournament can be found in this newsletter. 

Looking forward to seeing you all very soon!

Yours in Service,                                                                                          Brenda Pennels, Chapter President 

Health Care Update

Things are quiet on the TRICARE front.  My only concern is the debt-limit impasse in Washington, DC.  If the issue is resolved in a manner that includes federal spending reductions – even though Defense is supposedly sheltered – TRICARE has a history of risk as a potential target for cuts.  Military health care just doesn’t have quite the protective lobby that the defense manufacturers have.  We’ll see what comes out of all this drama.  The big story is Veterans Affairs health care, which has really grown recently, and now offers much better support for caregivers. VA efforts also include – as we heard from the Agency’s Maine representatives at our last Chapter luncheon at the Maine Military Museum on March 25th – a vigorous effort through the PACT-ACT (Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics) Act to identify veterans affected by or possibly at risk of adverse health consequences from environmental exposures during service in Southeast Asia and the Middle East, as well as other locations. The VA is strongly encouraging veterans to be screened, whether they use VA health care or not.  Reach out to the Togus Regional Benefits Office at (207) 621-6938.  (Col Bill Hall)

ROTC/JROTC Program Update

By the time members receive this edition, the school year for both JROTC and Senior ROTC for Maine schools will have ended.  We ran a detailed listing of all the school units, points of contact, and graduation dates with phone numbers in the last newsletter.  As a brief recap, we support eight Junior Programs with National MOAA certificates, signed by our Chapter President, and ROTC medals that the cadets may wear on their dress uniforms.  The school cadre award the certificates based on school criteria and present the awards at their annual awards dinner, which vary according to individual school schedules.  In addition, our Chapter awards a handsome solid brass compass to these deserving cadets.

For the top award winners for the four Senior Programs at the University of Maine (Army and Navy ROTC), University of Southern Maine (Army ROTC) and the Maine Maritime Academy (Navy ROTC) we also send MOAA certificates, medals, and compasses.  In addition, our Chapter provides a $500 scholarship to the top graduates:  one for each of the two Army Programs and one each for the two Navy Programs (total of $2,000) each year.  These awards and scholarships are made possible through the generous donations made by our own Chapter Members each year.  We sincerely thank you all for your support this year and in all the previous years you have been giving.  Photos from some of this year’s winners are included on the following pages.  (COL Frank Toderico, ROTC Chair)    

Quarterly Meeting for June 2023 Cancelled

The regularly scheduled second quarter meeting and luncheon of our Chapter was cancelled due to a number of conflicts in schedules.  The next quarterly meeting/luncheon will be held on Saturday, September 16, 2023 at the Maine Audubon Society in Falmouth, located at 20 Gilsland Farm Road, Falmouth, ME.  More information regarding this meeting will be found in the September newsletter edition.  We hope you will plan to join us for a tour of the facility and a presentation from a member of the Audubon staff.

Golf Tournament

For the first time in several years, our Chapter is hosting a golf tournament to raise funds to support both our ROTC Scholarship Program as well as a number of Veteran charities in the State of Maine.  The golf tournament is scheduled for August 16th at the Dunegrass Country Club in Old Orchard Beach.  The highlights include prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place teams, individual prizes for longest drive (male and female), closest-to-the-pin putting contest and a hole-in-one chance to win a new 2023 car.  Coffee and donuts will be available in the morning, and lunch will be served after the tournament.  We have started early to gain as many sponsors and foursomes as we can, with the ideal being 18 of each.  However, we can take double that if sponsors and teams are available.  Currently we have identified the car dealership for the  hole-in-one event, four hole sponsors, and three teams.  If anyone knows someone that would like to become a sponsor or bring a team, please contact Jack Fay at (207) 883-6447.

We will also need support personnel to run the tournament: this would amount about 5 hours on the day of the tournament.  Two people will be needed to check golfers in and sell mulligans and 50/50 tickets; one or two people will be needed to monitor he hole-in-one ; two people will be needed to monitor the putting contest; the longest drive will be an "honor" contest and will not need a monitor.  Anyone who can support our efforts with the tournament can contact Jack Fay.  You get to enjoy a free lunch and beverages while you work.

Our goal this year is to raise close to $10,000 for the ROTC Scholarship fund.  Your assistance will help us make our goal.  (LT Jack Fay)

Navy Senior ROTC

We regret that we were unable to obtain more information regarding the two awardees from the University of Maine and the Maine Maritime Academy.  The only information we had received at press time included the names of the honored cadets:

University of Maine:  2/C MIDN Devin Frazer

Maine Maritime Academy:   2/C MIDN Scott McCloughan

We will attempt to include more information in the next edition of the newsletter.

2023 Senior ROTC Award Winner - University of Southern Maine Cadet Aayshia Connell

CDT Connell is a third-year college student at the University of Southern Maine, studying for a Bachelor’s in Exercise Science.  Connell has been a member of the Maine Army National Guard for the past five years. She has recently returned to Maine after deploying to assist with the Southwest Border mission for 13 months.  In 2022, CDT Connell joined the Simultaneous Membership Program in ROTC at her school.  Since then, CDT Connell has been actively involved in ROTC recruiting events, creating the physical fitness training program, and teaching classes during weekly leadership labs.  CDT Connell’s military aspirations include branching into Medical Services.  She is making plans to pursue Physical Therapy school once graduating.

2023 Senior ROTC Award Winner - University of Maine, Orono Cadet Alan Clark

CDT Alan D. Clark is from Burke, Virginia.  He joined the UMaine Army ROTC in the fall of 2022.  He is currently studying Forestry and plans to graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in May 2024.  He is currently an Military Science Level III cadet and is attending Advanced Camp in Kentucky this summer.  His intentions are to pursue a career in the Army in the Field Artillery branch. 

In Memoriam

James A. Vollkommer, USAF

Gorham, ME

April 12, 2023

"We are grateful for your loyal service to the Nation..."

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