Memorial Day is not a day meant for barbecues, picnics or big store sales. This is a day to remember our fallen heroes form all the wars and for those who have passed on and reported to the Commander of All. It is a time to remember their contributions to keep this country free.

Sad to say, there are those who have forgotten. Look at the ways our veterans are being treated in Washington and, yes, in Maine. Our Governor and the First Lady Ann have truly gone that extra mile to keep the fires burning. Like the man or not. He does care about our veterans in Maine BIG TIME.

This past week at the State House was truly frustrating. The Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee voted on LD 620 — an act to allow veterans organizations to own and operate slot machines. The Ought Not To Pass was unanimous — seven veterans on the committee all voted no. Another source of financial independence taken away from veterans.

. LD 1280 — deals with allowing a casino in southern Maine. This legislation, if passed, would generate an estimated $3 million a year for veterans — another chance for veterans in the state of Maine to have financial independence. It would also restore some dignity among veterans. Why do we have to beg our legislators for financial help with our cemeteries, veteran homes, veteran courts, veteran homeless shelters, etc.? I for one am tired of begging our lawmakers for help only to receive crumbs that fall off the end of the table. Folks — think about it — I’ve been going to the legislature off and on for 40 plus years and this is the worst I’ve seen it. In my opinion the veterans, their families and survivors deserve a better fate.

We got a good showing of how powerful the lobbyist movement in the legislature really is. Talk about weakness! How can an elected official abandon his/her constituents and give in to lobbyists?

. LD 1280, in my opinion, is our last hope for financial independence. We have to wait on what our Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee decides. Seven members on the committee are veterans. It looks like four are on the side of the veterans, the other three are questionable. Sen. Patrick (Rumford) has said it time and time again “veterans should be our priority on this committee.” On the good side of things: LD280 — an act to exempt military pensions and survivors benefits, is still alive.

. LD 74 — ensures equity in benefits provided to military service members — passed the Senate.

. LD 1343 — an act to increase access to postsecondary education for Maine National Guard members — looks good with amendments.

Oh, and 100 percent of bills had to be voted on by last Friday, May 22 — don’t think so! 100 percent of bills must be reported out by this Friday, May 29 — don’t think so!

Budget appropriations? The Legislative Committee is still holding work sessions on bills. For instance, Health and Human Services: Four bills on Thursday, May 28.

Last week we attended sessions on the Senate side, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Hearings all week, workshop sessions.

This week we’ll attend Senate sessions on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Work session every day. Today, May 26, we’ll be honoring a veteran of WWII who lives in Machias. The American Legion will be presenting the veteran with an Eagle Head Cane. He’ll also receive Certificates of Appreciation for his military service in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. The ceremony starts at 1 p.m. in Room 427 in the Capitol building.

Let’s set the record straight — many citizens in Sagadahoc County received flyers in the mail concerning our Sen. Linda Baker (Topsham). The flyers are all false, Linda, just like any other legislator, has a right to co-sponsor any bill she feels is important. Hey, don’t forget, her constituents call her. She doesn’t represent outside sources. She does represent her constituents. Hopefully, the leadership in the all Republican party will take some action. As voters, we can take action. (Write, call or email U. S. term limits in Fla. Let them know your feelings.)

On the Federal side:

The “Honor America’s Guard- Reserve Retirees Act” has been introduced in both chambers of Congress (HR1384/S743). These bills grant full veterans status to members of the Reserves and the National Guard who have served at least 20 years, but have not been called up for active duty. As of now, these brave men and women cannot legally call themselves veterans. Please support full veteran status for reservists with 20 years or more of service, and urge members of the Maine Congressional delegation to support this important legislation. Also, “Caregiver Expansion and Improvement Act” (S657), “Blue Water Navy Veterans Act” (HR969/S681). Call, write, email your Congressional Delegation and urge them to support these legislative bills.

The Veterans Resource Center is very active. Take time to come and visit. Got questions about military service, need help with veteran benefits? Call 406-4103.

Coming up this week:

. American Legion, Post 20 meeting will take place at 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 27, which will include installation of officers for 2015-2016. Joe Donahue will be the new Commander. Continuing discussions about the Evergreen Center will take place.

. Mid-Coast Veterans Council meeting will take place at 6 p.m. Friday, May 29.

From The Coffee Crowd: Gil is working with me to finalize all our reports to Legion Headquarters — also on legislative matters. Been busy in Augusta, so I don’t get to talk to the crowd anymore. Been keeping track of the Red Sox and Yankees though and what’s going on. Cliff brought back the fire extinguishers for the Yankees, but forgot the fire for the Red Sox. Murph can smile — the Yankees are still in front; sorry Bob and Jim.

Many thanks to Buddy Rogers, Post 20 members, local Boy Scout and Cub Scout troops for decorating the veterans graves with flags. The cemeteries look great.

’Til next time keep the faith.


Chick Ciciotte is the legislative chairperson for the Mid-Coast Veterans Council. He lives in Topsham.

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