Bipartisan Legislators Working To Provide Educational Pathway For National Guard Members
Bill offers tuition waivers for the men and women of the Maine National Guard
Augusta – House Republican Leader Rep. Ken Fredette of Newport is honored to sponsor a bill that would make it easier for our state’s National Guard members earn a college degree.
LD 1343 would provide a 100 percent tuition waiver at any school in the University of Maine System, Maine Community College System and the Maine Maritime Academy for any qualified members of the Maine National Guard.
“Supporting the men and women who volunteer to serve and defend our state and our nation should be a high priority for the Legislature. This bill to provide tuition assistance for these military members not only will help in the Maine National Guard’s recruiting efforts, but it also provides a pathway for these people to get an education who may otherwise not be able to afford it,” said Rep. Fredette, currently a Lt. Colonel in the Maine Air National Guard serving as a as a Judge Advocate General (JAG).
The bill is cosponsored by Rep. Brad Farrin (R) from Norridgewock and Sen. Nate Libby (D) from Lewiston.
“This is a small price for us to pay to say thank you to these men and women who serve Maine and the nation,” said Rep. Farrin. “These soldiers and airmen will be a welcome addition to our college campuses and exactly the type of people we should be trying to keep right here in Maine once they have earned their degrees. As a veteran, I know men and women who would directly benefit from this bill’s passage.”
Rep. Farrin was the Command Chief Master Sergeant for the Maine Air National Guard before retiring in 2013 as its highest-ranking enlisted airman serving nearly three decades. He deployed to Iraq in 2008 in Operation Iraq Freedom and to the Horn of Africa in 2009 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He has more than 18 major awards and decorations, including the Legion of Merit and the Air Force Meritorious Service Medal.
A press conference to unveil the details of the bill was held Wednesday at the Maine State House. The event was an example of the broad bipartisan support as Sen. Nate Libby (D) from Lewiston and Rep. Mick Devin (D) of Newcastle voiced their support for the bill.
“Depending on the amount of education, skills and experience, many National Guard members can complete a degree very quickly. This education can take a competent and experienced veteran and give them new skills to land a challenging and fulfilling job that pays a decent wage,” Rep. Devin said.
“As lawmakers, we spend much of our time trying to fill the so-called skilled gap,” said Sen. Libby. “We need-not look too far at who we can recruit to make Maine their home. Our veterans.”
Rep. Farrin was a guest on the George Hale Ric Tyler show Thursday morning talking about the bill: