At the start of each legislative day, we representatives listen to our national anthem and say the pledge of allegiance, hands on hearts. The House chamber is a humbling place to stand, and I believe our daily patriotic rituals impress upon all the members the significance of the sacrifices America’s veterans made for our freedom.

Our service members and veterans deserve our deepest appreciation for their sacrifices — not just on Veterans Day, but every day. It is our duty to honor them any way we can. This session, we enacted a series of laws to help Maine veterans, whether they’re at home, abroad or just returning to Maine from active duty.

In this economy, transitioning back into the civilian workforce can be difficult. That’s why the Legislature passed a bill that will help veterans and their spouses go to work in the private sector after their military service. This common-sense law will help expedite the professional licensing process for veterans and their spouses. Too often, returning service members face waits of multiple weeks when transferring licenses from another state or applying for a new license.

Retired Col. Harold Cooney testified in support of the law on behalf of the U.S. Office of the Secretary of Defense. He reiterated that veterans often have a hard time getting post-service employment because of delays in receiving professional licensing.

The measure would further help veterans who are nonresident students become eligible for in-state tuition at any state school.

The Legislature passed another new and creative measure to help veterans explore a career in agriculture after their military service. State agencies and institutions of higher education in Maine will design a veteran-to-farmer training pilot program. Here in Maine, agriculture continues to grow. This is a great way for veterans to explore a career in agriculture and raise healthful, nutritious food for all of us to enjoy.

Those who defend our country often leave their jobs behind to go overseas. The Legislature is committed to helping those who have to put their lives on hold while abroad. Lobstermen and others with specialized marine resource licenses will no longer have to worry that their licenses will expire during deployment. Under the new law, these licenses will be suspended, but remain active. In this way, service members won’t have to worry about these licenses while they are away in remote locations, putting their lives on the line for our country.

These are just a few of the bills we passed to recognize our service members and veterans. I will continue to be a strong advocate for them and their families.

Let us never forget the sacrifices our military men and women have made and continue to make for us.

Rep. Stanley Short Jr., D-Pittsfield, is serving his first term in the Maine Legislature and represents Clinton, Detroit and Pittsfield.

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