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)