The Maine State House in Augusta is seen in this May 6, 2020, file photo. Credit: Natalie Williams / BDN

The Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee is recommending the creation of a new office in the Bureau of Veterans Services to handle requests by LGBTQ veterans who believe they were discharged from the service solely because of their sexual preference.

No one knows how many Maine veterans received less-than-honorable discharges from military service because of their sexual orientation, but David Richmond, director of the Maine Bureau of Veterans Services, believes it is a significant number.

“Between the end of World War II and the 2011 repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy it is estimated that over 100,000 veterans nationally were involuntarily discharged from the services because of their sexual orientation,” Richmond said.

The new office would help veterans get their discharges upgraded so they can access state-provided benefits. The office also will help them get the discharges upgraded at the federal level to qualify for federal benefits.

The measure would be considered at a special session this summer, which has yet to be called.

This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.