Commission to Protect the Lives and Health of Members of the Maine National Guard
Meeting: February 1, 2010
Place: Judiciary Committee room 438 (next door to our usual meeting place)
Time: 9:30 to 3:30
My intent is to stop for a moment, and look deeper into what has been accomplished, and what we would like to accomplish in future. Barbara D-D and I have had several conversations about what has improved as a result of the Commission’s work, and how we can be sure that after the Commission’s work is completed, the changes will have been enshrined into policies so that the changes are maintained for the foreseeable future.
With that in mind, I hoped that over the next several meetings, we could hear presentations about exactly what has changed, how the changes were accomplished, how they will be maintained, and/or what we as a Commission should do to help preserve them.
In the same vein, I identified areas for which I don’t have a clear picture of completion. I’ll list some that we may wish to brainstorm on, or be informed about. (I am embarrassed about how much I no longer recall of our deliberations.) Please feel free to add to this list. None of this is carved in stone, and everyone’s input is equally valuable. The agenda can be changed as needed during our first 10 minutes.
I. Areas to strengthen, to get more information on, or to complete work we started (9:30-12:00):
1. CDC’s Commission website with information on resources for soldiers and veterans
~ Let’s brainstorm improvements and links to the site. Let’s brainstorm ways to advertise the site. Perhaps add it to all Commission documents?2. The VA-DOD Pilot Disability Evaluation Project: How is it working?
3. Soldiers subject to Medical Hold/ Medical Evacuations: We have discussed problems with Medical Hold. How many MeANG members have been on medical hold since 2003? How many are now? How many have not returned to Maine with their units at the completion of their scheduled deployment? What are the reasons? How many have retired or left the Guard with 15-20 years in, and why? We do not need names, but numbers and stories would help ground our work.
4. Progress made on electronic medical records?
Is the Medical Examiner’s Office able to match SSNs with Veterans Services agency to learn how many suicides are in veterans? Maine has an estimated 180 suicides/year, and about 10% of Maine residents are veterans. Do we have a higher or lower rate of suicides in veterans than the rest of the population? (Note: the rate is higher in males)
7. What programs exist for homeless veterans? Unemployed veterans? Have unused building at Togus been remodeled to create veterans’ shelters? How dire is the current economic situation for veterans?
8. What tracking is done regarding the health status of returnees? Was a relevant question added to the survey that Maine CDC conducts in 2010 to help identify soldiers’ and veterans’ health issues? What is known, if anything, about chronic medical issues in returned soldiers from the Global War on Terror? Could the medical advocate (LTC Fran Casey) tell us about ongoing health issues?
9. One Commission goal was to provide information on helpful programs as well as fact-finding to families of deceased soldiers. But how can we reach them? What forms of outreach do we have available to us? Barbara D-D told us that several programs were extremely useful to her and her family. Do families of the deceased have easy access to information about these programs (and our interest in serving as a potential resource)?
10. Has the MeNG Family Program gotten a facility separate from the Guard? What programs does it offer that we are not aware of? Should it be added to the CDC website? (Note the recent article on increased mental health problems in military spouses, thought secondary to long/repeat deployments)
II. Presentation on MeANG’s Sexual Assault Program by Jasmine Cain (1 – 1:30 pm)
III. Formal Business (1:30 – 2:00 pm)
IV. Brainstorming: Where Our Commission Should be Going (2:00 – 2:45)
V. The draft bill proposed by me at the last meeting (2:45 – 3:30