From left, Major Gen. Douglas Farnham, Petty Officer 3rd Class James Bachelder, and Gov. Janet Mills attend an Aides-de-Camp induction ceremony Oct. 6. Sarah Sherman Photo

AUGUSTA — Gov. Janet Mills held her first meeting of the recently reinvigorated Aides-de-Camp program, an advisory council of military veterans who advise the Governor on policies impacting Maine veterans, on Oct. 6.

Eleven veterans representing all branches of military services, as well as two members of Mills’ cabinet who are veterans — Public Safety Commissioner Mike Sauschuck and Corrections Commissioner Randy Liberty — were inducted into the Aides-de-Camp program at Camp Chamberlain by Mills and Major Gen. Douglas Farnham, the commissioner of the Maine Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management.

Mills delivered welcoming remarks and, along with Farnham, awarded the newly-appointed veterans with certificates. Bureau of Veterans Services Director David Richmond and Director of Strategic Partnerships Sarah Sherman provided a briefing about ongoing veterans programs and advocacy efforts in the state, including the Mobile Homeless Veterans Stand Down program, veterans’ suicide prevention efforts, the Maine Veterans’ Dental Program, and other veteran-related issues. The Aides-de-Camp also received up-to-date status reports on several of the Bureau’s other ongoing operations and engaged in a question-and-answer session.

“As someone who comes from a military family, I deeply appreciate the service and sacrifice of Maine veterans and their loved ones,” said Mills, according to a news release from the Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services. “Maine has the largest percentage of veterans per capita in the nation, and these Aides-camp-positions will create an important line of communication between them and state government. I am grateful for the work of my Aides-de-Camp and look forward to continuing our efforts to improve services and opportunities for veterans across Maine.”

“The Aides-de-Camp program will assist the Bureau greatly in its efforts to advocate for Maine’s veterans,” said David Richmond, BVS director. “It was evident by the enthusiasm in the room that we have just gained a remarkable level of experienced veterans that want to work together to help Maine’s veterans on a multitude of levels including homelessness, substance abuse disorder, transition from the military to civilian work and life, female veterans’ health issues, and veteran students.”

The Aides-de-Camp will meet quarterly at Camp Chamberlain and the inductees will strive to improve the lives of Maine’s veterans while serving as liaisons between their own communities and Mills.

The Aides-de-Camp inductees included Maj. David Hassen, Augusta; Sgt. Jessica Brennan, Farmington; Command Sgt. Maj. Gretchen Evans, Brunswick; Col. Lori Sussman, Windham; Maj. Brenda Pennels, Scarborough; Sgt. 1st Class Jerry DeWitt, New Gloucester; Lt. Scott Hanson, Yarmouth; Petty Officer 3rd Class James Bachelder, Acton; Sgt. Craig Florey, Kenduskeag; Cpl. Gary Bies, Lincoln; and Lt. Whitney McKay, Eliot.

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