6th Annual MMCN Conference
On July 21, 2016, MHC Director of Programs Lizz Sinclair and Program Assistant Leah Kuehn attended the 6th Annual Maine Military & Community Network (MMCN) Conference in Augusta, where over 250 people gathered from across the state. Working together with Veterans and Service Members, the goal of MMCN is to raise awareness about challenges faced by Service Members and their families, to identify resources that exist to help them, and help connect Service Members to their families and communities.
The day’s speakers included Senators Susan Collins and Angus King, Congressman Bruce Poliquin, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, and former Congressman Mike Michaud, who is now U.S. Assistant Secretary of Labor for Veterans’ Employment and Training. Also in attendance was the Honorable Robert McDonald, Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, who gave one of the day’s keynote talks.
Conference attendees gathered for several breakout sessions, including “Military 101” led by Col. Chaplain Andy Gibson. In addition to seeing the many friends and partners of Veterans Book Group, one highlight of the event was a panel of Veterans and Service Members discussing their experiences of returning home from deployment. A common point of discussion was the need for civilians to not see Veterans and Service Members as victims, or as “damaged”. Rather than show sympathy, Veterans and Service Members hope civilians show empathy and respect for their service.
MMCN is a community effort to understand, prevent, and help deal with the lingering aftereffects of war on service members, their families, and their communities.