Gov. Mills picks advisory military aides

Gov. Janet Mills has announced her 2021 selections for the aides-de-camp program, an advisory council of military veterans who advise the governor on policies impacting Maine veterans.
The eleven veterans selected to serve include:
Maj. David Hassen, Augusta; Sgt. Jessica Brennan, Farmington; Csm. Gretchen Evans, Brunswick; Col. Lori Sussman, Windham; Maj. Brenda Pennels, Scarborough; Sfc. Jerry DeWitt, New Gloucester; Lt. Scott Hansen, Yarmouth; PO3 James Bachelder, Acton; Sgt. Craig Florey, Kenduskeag; Cpl. Gary Bies, Lincoln; and Lt. Whitney McKay, Eliot.
“I am honored to welcome these veterans to our Aides-de-Camp program. Their history of service to their communities, our state, and our country are to be commended and their vast and diverse experiences will help us address those issues that most affect our veterans,” said Mills. “Maine has a long-standing tradition of military service, and this program is an extension of that service. I thank these veterans for bringing their experiences and talents to the table for discussion, problem solving and strategic planning to strengthen Maine’s unwavering commitment to its veterans and their families.”
The Bureau of Veterans Services reviewed more than 50 applications and the nominees were selected based on criteria focused on diversity of experience to ensure that the 11 Aides are representative of the veterans’ population in Maine.
The governor has identified the following issues for the aides to focus attention on: quality health, dental, and mental health care (post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries, sexual trauma, and substance abuse disorder); homelessness and food insecurity; connection to state and dederal benefits; ensuring access to services for Maine’s tribal veterans and veterans living in rural areas; LGBTQ veterans; access to alternative therapies and adaptive sports; and support for veterans court participants, suicide prevention, and aging in place.
Honorably discharged officers or enlisted personnel who served in the Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard or Marine Corps and who are not members of the state military forces may be appointed as aides-de-camp. These individuals will be expected to meet with the governor and/or her staff periodically to discuss issues pertaining to Maine veterans and to serve as a liaison between the governor and the veteran service organization they represent. The governor and Maj. Gen. Douglas Farnham, Commissioner of the Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management have also invited other members of the governor’s Cabinet who are veterans to join the program, including Commissioner of Corrections Randy Liberty and Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety Mike Sauschuck.

Army recruiting battalion welcomes new commander
The U.S. Army New England Recruiting Battalion welcomed its new commander LTC Natasha Sunday Clarke during a Change of Command ceremony held July 21 at the Paul A. Doble United States Army Reserve Center. Clarke is the first female and first Black person to serve in this position.
Col. Dente, commander, 1st Recruiting Brigade, Ft. George Meade, MD, officiated during the ceremony where command was symbolically passed by way of the battalion’s flag to LTC Clarke.
“My Dad made me want to join the military,” said LTC Clarke. “Everyone one of us had to do a year of JROTC. In high school, I did a JROTC Challenge and there was a female sophomore on the Color Guard team with a lot of medals. And I wanted all the medals.”
LTC Clarke quickly rose to the top, participating on the Drill Team, Color Guard, Ranger Challenge, and track.
“I tried my best to lead from the front,” said Clarke. In every organization I’ve been a part of, people have always told me that I stand out as a leader. Although I didn’t always see it, people saw it in me.”

U.S. Army New England Recruiting Battalion welcomed its new commander LTC Natasha Sunday Clarke

U.S. Army New England Recruiting Battalion welcomed its new commander LTC Natasha Sunday Clarke.

It’s this strength as a leader which propels her today.
“Service,” she said, “means passion and commitment. For me, the best part of being in the Army is the people. I love people; I love talking to people. And, I love soldiers and talking to soldiers. I love to mentor; military mentoring is a huge passion of mine.”
In 1997 she enlisted into the United States Army Reserves while attending North Carolina A&T State University. She later received her commission into the Transportation Corps as a Second Lieutenant in 2002.
“I learned to equate my job to that of a Wal-Mart distribution center in terms of the training I received, said Clarke. “I can deliver, I can stock, store, retrieve – we can do it all and I can do it in bulk. And, the Army has trained me so that we can get it to those on the front line.”
LTC Clarke holds a bachelor of science degree in public relations and a master of management in human resource management.
Her assignments have included platoon leader, company commander and executive officer. She has three combat tours – Operation Iraqi Freedom I and III and Operation Enduring Freedom 13-14. During her tour in the Pentagon, she served on the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Army staff. She commanded the 194th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion in South Korea. Most recently, she served as the United Nations Command/ Combined Forces Command/United States Forces Korea Commanding General’s speechwriter.
Her awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal Campaign Star, Iraq Campaign Medal Campaign Star, and Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal.
“Being in the Army has increased my awareness. It’s shown my family that the world is a melting pot. We’ve been afforded the opportunity to travel, explore different cultures and make friends globally.
“Serving in the military is a commitment greater than self but the opportunity that it provides to you to serve alongside others who are different- no matter the race, gender, creed, it’s what makes our organization unique and for the greater good of the nation.”

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