AUGUSTA — Maine first lady Ann LePage and the Portland Regional Chamber are launching a “Hire a Veteran” initiative.

They plan to announce a new Portland Veterans Network today in the boardroom of the Portland Chamber.

The program is to address the needs of veterans returning from Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. It offers free chamber benefits to unemployed veterans and opportunities to help them re-integrate into the community and find jobs.

One company already on the hire-veterans bandwagon is Magic Falls Rafting Co. The West Forks outfitter is actively recruiting veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq to become whitewater rafting guides this season.

The rafting company is waiving the guide training fees for the veterans. The training course is a week long.