As an Air Force veteran, a social worker, and executive director of the Maine Student Veteran Alliance, one major problem that service members face, when they leave military service, is income stability.

When I was in the service, we didn’t need the Family Medical Leave Act. Our command structure would do their best to ensure that we were able to take care of ailing family members without an interruption in pay. When we leave military service, this is one of the valuable benefits that we lose.

Men and women coming home from war face incredible challenges putting their lives back together and sometimes carry with them scars that will last a lifetime. Veterans are much more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. We also know that about 20 veterans take their own lives every day.

For many service members, who bear visible and invisible wounds for their willingness to serve, family members are their primary, and most appropriate, caregivers. L.D. 1410 would help caregivers support their families without significant disruption to the family’s income.

L.D. 1410 would create a new universal program in Maine that would allow a person to take up to 12 weeks to care for family or 20 weeks to deal with their own medical issues and would guarantee that they receive part of their paycheck every week. This program would help veterans maintain a stable income when taking off time from work to support the family’s medical and behavioral health care needs. When a veteran is willing to seek Veterans Affairs care, that decision should not come at the cost of job loss and financial ruin.

While no single proposal will solve all the problems veterans face, passing a paid family and medical leave bill would help.

Stephen White


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