AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Paul LePage on Wednesday signed a resolve directing the state’s Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management commissioner to ask the federal government to recognize environmental hazards at a New Brunswick military training center that resulted in health risks and disabilities for some members of the Maine National Guard.
The Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management has been pursuing the recognition of the environmental hazards that Maine’s service men and women may have been exposed to at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs since 2005.
This resolve, LD 1632, will support federal legislation that has been submitted in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate by Maine’s congressional delegation.
Members of the Maine National Guard trained at Gagetown in New Brunswick for decades.
In 2007, the Canadian government admitted to working with the United States military in testing the herbicides Agent Orange, Agent Purple, Agent White and other unregistered pesticides at locations around the base in the late 1960s and began paying one-time settlements to its own veterans who served on the base.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has not recognized any correlation between the symptoms experienced by Maine National Guard soldiers and their exposure to harmful chemicals used at the training base.
“Maine’s military members have sacrificed so much in service to our state and nation,” LePage said. “It is our duty as a country to take care of these brave men and women when they return sick or injured and I urge the Department of Veterans Affairs to act swiftly on righting this wrong.”
Information about Canadian Forces Base Gagetown can be found on the Bureau of Veterans’ Service website at www.maine.gov/dvem/bvs/.
On the website is a questionnaire the bureau wants all Maine National Guard veterans who trained at CFB Gagetown to complete and submit. The survey will help identifying the health care issues that Maine Guard soldiers are experiencing that may be connected to their time at Gagetown.