AUGUSTA - Major General Douglas A. Farnham, the adjutant general of the state of Maine, presented his State of the National Guard Address to the Joint Session of the 129th Maine Legislature on March 21.
Highlights of Maj. Gen. Farnham’s address included the appointment of David A. Richmond to serve as the director of the Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services (MBVS), as well as recognition of the bureau’s efforts to improve veteran case management, outreach, and access to state and VA benefits, including the bureau’s receipt of the 2019 Abraham Lincoln Pillar of Excellence Award from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for its work to end Veteran Homelessness, “One veteran at a time.”
MBVS Director Richmond has served as acting director since September of 2018. Richmond, an Army veteran, has served in the bureau for more than 20 years, beginning in 1998 as a project officer for the construction of three veterans’ cemeteries, then as Cemetery System superintendent, and later as deputy director of MBVS.
Farnham also commended MBVS Homeless Veterans coordinator, Jarad Greeley, and director of Strategic Partnerships, Sarah A. Sherman, noting, “They are the point people leading the way to make this award possible.” Farnham noted MBVS’ diligence in forging partnerships with organizations across the state of Maine and also thanked two individual citizens for their generosity: John Simard, a motel owner in Machias, and Madawaska landlord Gary Bouchard.
Farnham provided updates on other agencies he oversees, including the Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and the Maine National Guard, which is comprised of approximately 3,000 Air and Army Guard men and women serving at facilities throughout the state with over 900 full-time members. The Guard provides emergency response capabilities for the governor at home and we are proud of the operational role played deploying across the globe.
Farnham discussed MEMA's continued support to numerous emergency planning efforts across all levels of government, to include the development of the state's Interagency Disaster Recovery Plan and initiating a revision of our Energy Assurance and Emergency Management Plan. He also noted that MEMA will be hosting the 11th annual "Maine Partners in Emergency Preparedness" conference in April, where attendees will receive lessons learned on the Mandalay Bay shooting from a Nevada fire department official.
The Maine Air National Guard supports personnel and coalition assets all over the world including Tunisia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Niger. Tech. Sgt. Christopher LaSalle of the 265th Combat Communication Squadron, was commended for his invaluable communications work for the Guard and for volunteering during his time off fixing water pumps and generators in a local town.