Democratic gubernatorial candidate and Mike Michaud released a plan on Monday to increase services for veterans care, saying the Maine Bureau of Veterans Services needs a “head-to-toe assessment” and modernization.

Michaud also vowed to keep the Gardiner’s 133rd Engineering Battalion from being reassigned to Pennsylvania.

The plan was rolled out at a press conference in Lewiston, where Michaud was joined by prominent Republicans who support his campaign, including: Anthony Principi, the former VA Secretary under President George H.W. Bush from 2001 to 2005; and former U.S. Rep. Steve Buyer, a past ranking member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.LePage’s campaign dismissed the Republican support and renewed accusations that as a ranking member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, Michaud failed to properly oversee the U.S. Veterans Administration while veterans endured long waiting times for health care appointments.

The jockeying highlights the efforts LePage and Michaud are making to appeal to the 130,000 veterans in Maine.

“Supporting our veterans isn’t a partisan issue and today’s event demonstrates that,” Michaud said in a written statement. “In Congress, I worked with Congressman Buyer and Secretary Principi to better the lives of veterans in Maine and across the country. … I plan to bring that same bipartisan leadership to the Blaine House if elected governor this November.”

Michaud offered few specifics on his plan, but said he wants to “shine a spotlight” on issues that affect veterans, including mental health care, rural access to health care and women veterans services.


Michaud supports expanding Medicaid, or MaineCare as it is called in Maine, to an additional 70,000 Mainers, some 3,000 of whom are veterans. The LePage administration has opposed accepting federal money to expand MaineCare enrollment.

To help veterans reintegrate into society, Michaud said the next governor needs ensure that GI benefits “are utilized and maximum federal and state level benefits are available” for education. He also said the state should assist job-seeking veterans with resume writing courses, job fairs and vocational rehabilitation.

Michaud also said the state needs to focus on women veterans.

In a press release, the campaign said Michaud’s plan includes “protecting the 133rd Engineering Battalion.” According to documents received by the Press Herald last spring, plans were being considered that would have Maine’s 133rd Engineer Battalion reassigned to Pennsylvania, in exchange for an infantry unit, by 2015. Gov. Paul LePage has said no decision has been made.

Independent candidate Eliot Cutler’s spokeswoman Crystal Canney said in a written statement that Cutler has also been endorsed by Republicans, “who live, work, pay taxes and employ people here in Maine. With all the bad economic news facing our state, they know that he is the only candidate who can bring strong leadership and proven business sense to the big job of turning our economy around and creating the jobs of the 21st century.”

The LePage campaign is airing a television ad, starring the governor’s wife, Ann, highlighting their efforts to help veterans. Those efforts include raising money for veterans groups and launching a “Hire a Veteran” initiative.


Alex Willette, spokesman for the Republican governor’s campaign, renewed accusations that Michaud failed to properly oversee the VA during his 12 years on the Veterans Affairs Committee.

After whistle blowers exposed that improper scheduling procedures within the VA led to veteran deaths in Arizona, a report from the Inspector General revealed that scheduling issues had been highlighted in 18 reports to the committee since 2005. Both Michaud and Buyer served on the committee when many of those reported were issued, Willette said in a written statement.

“Michaud is circling the wagons to avoid individual scrutiny but it’s time for Congressman Michaud to stop trying to pull the wool over people’s eyes and accept responsibility for his part in the VA disaster,” Willette said.

Willette also pointed out that Principi is now a registered lobbyist in Washington, D.C.


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