Maine has the fourth highest percentage of military veterans in the country. I am one of them, as is my father and my grandfather, who was a young Marine at Iwo Jima, and as are many others in my family.
My election would mark the first time in 27 years that Maine had a governor who was also a veteran (McKernan, 1990). I would bring to office a passion for both those who have served and each and every one of the military family members whose sacrifice and support are essential.
My 20 years of military service in the Maine Army National Guard and my leadership roles in three combat deployments to Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan have made me intimately aware of the challenges faced by current service members, veterans, and their families. I have also spent a lot of time with my brother and sister veterans from other wars, conflicts, and times in the service, and I understand many of their unique challenges.
I have faced my own challenges and struggles with the Veterans Administration health system through various injuries, including two blown shoulders that led to my retirement from the Guard.
I also understand how hard it can be, economically, to leave behind a small business when you serve in the Guard and are called for deployment. Those situations put enormous pressure on families, businesses, and whole communities.
I will be a champion for active duty service members, veterans of all periods of service, and their family members. I will be a loud, clear, forceful voice for state and national policies that address their challenges – and a friend in the Blaine House.