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We are proud to be Maine veterans. Each of us has served our country and made sacrifices to protect our nation — so we know firsthand the importance of electing leaders who will stand up for the values we fought to defend and push for the benefits we’ve earned.

That’s why this November, we’re supporting Sara Gideon.

A vote for Gideon is a vote for a tried-and-true advocate who will go to the mat for Maine’s veterans. Throughout her time in the State House, Sara helped Maine’s veterans facing tough times find new opportunities for success. She expanded Maine’s efforts to prevent veteran homelessness, improved access to mental health care, and fought to provide additional support so Maine veterans can thrive at our state’s universities and community colleges.

Gideon knows that America has a responsibility to fight for those who risked their lives in defense of our country. As a U.S. senator, we believe she’ll work tirelessly to ensure that Maine’s veterans have full access to G.I. benefits, education and job training, and the highest-quality health care possible — including mental health and women’s health services.

Nearly one in 10 Mainers has served in the armed forces, making our veteran community an especially vibrant part of Maine life. Gideon understands that veterans are central to our state; they’re civic leaders and business owners, neighbors and loved ones. She has met with veterans across Maine who are leading the way and making a difference in their communities.

Gideon will always fight for Maine’s veterans because she understands that being a good public servant is about standing up for what’s right in the service of your country. Unfortunately, that’s not what we’ve seen from Sen. Susan Collins these past few years.

Collins argued that the president had “learned … a pretty big lesson” after she voted to acquit him in his impeachment trial. In the months immediately after, President Donald Trump undermined our national security for personal vendettas, purged his administration of national security officials who disagreed with him, and fired inspectors general intended to serve as watchdogs for government misconduct.

It’s been months since reports surfaced that Russia put bounties on American troops in Afghanistan and Trump rejected our intelligence community findings and still cozies up to Vladimir Putin as our service members are in harm’s way. It’s clear that the only “lesson” Trump learned is that people like Collins won’t hold him accountable.

In recent weeks, reports emerged showing the president disparaging and mocking veterans. This continues a years-long pattern of Trump denigrating our military, demeaning war heroes, and using our armed forces as his own stage props.

We had hoped Collins would follow in the tradition of Margaret Chase Smith and stand by her convictions. Instead, she has betrayed Maine veterans and prioritized her partisan political interests over her duty to speak out against this disgusting behavior from the commander in chief. Occasionally, she has issued a tepid statement of “concern,” but more often — and as with these latest reports — Collins refuses to condemn Trump’s horrifying statements dishonoring our fallen heroes. Her silence is an insult to Maine veterans who put our lives on the line for our nation.

This November, we have an opportunity to elect a leader who honors the service of Maine’s veterans, and will fight for us every day in Washington. We have an opportunity to elect a leader who stands up for national security and American values — a leader who won’t back down from what’s right.

We need to seize this opportunity. We need to elect Sara Gideon.

John H. Bubar of Portland is a retired U.S. Air Force/Maine Air National Guard brigadier general. This column is also signed by Michael McCarten of Kittery, a doctor and retired U.S. Navy captain; Richard Tinsman of Hampden, a retired U.S. Coast Guard Reserve captain; Rep. Bettyann Watson-Sheats of Auburn, an Army captain; Jimmy Carabello of York, a retired Army command sergeant major; Rep. Kevin O’Connell of Brewer, a Maine Air National Guard master sergeant; Bob McCollum of Roque Bluffs, a U.S. Navy petty officer second class; and Thomas R. W. Longstaff of Waterville, a sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps.