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Health Care Protection for Military Signed Into Law


Neither the family nor the legislators could have predicted that a new law to protect the military would be signed three days after the first anniversary date of the death of Maine National Guardsman Capt. Patrick Damon, 41, of Falmouth.

The son of Barbara Damon Day of Newcastle and Ellsworth Damon of Whitefield, Damon died on June 15, 2006, after collapsing in his barracks while serving in Afghanistan.

On Monday there was a Memorial Resolution in the House for Damon, who was well known and respected in Augusta as a former aide to speakers of the House. Then Gov. John Baldacci signed into law his emergency bill LD1889, An Act to Protect the Lives and Health of Members of the Maine National Guard, crediting Damon’s family for the incentive to do so.

Day was the driving force behind the legislation, knowing her son did not die of an apparent heart attack as first recorded, and believing he died because his health was compromised by vaccines and medications given as part of military health care and prevention protocols.

“It’s exactly what I asked for,” Day said Monday. The law links the Maine Center for Disease Control and the Maine National Guard in order to create higher and safer standards for preventative medical practices and health screenings. Day said the action will go a long way in preventing the tragedy of future non-combatant deaths and injuries.

“I take this very seriously as Commander in Chief,” said Baldacci, who saw for himself the state of the U.S. health care system for the military after visiting Walter Reed Medical Center. “We need to make sure Maine soldiers get adequate medical and mental health care with higher and safe standards.”

In a written statement, Day said, “Today is another milestone in the healing of the most painful event that can befall a family, the loss of a loved one.”

The law establishes a commission to oversee progress made by the two agencies as they work together. Day said the law also provides a place for families and service members to come to share their stories and concerns “so that the cracks their loved ones fell through may also be closed.”

Day and Baldacci believe this Maine law is groundbreaking because it sets an example for legislation nationwide.

“This law not only casts the State of Maine in the proud role of leader, but shows the desire of human kind to do the right thing,” said Day. “It is one thing to say ‘I’ll never forget your service.’ It is quite another to back that statement up with action.”