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Jared Golden For Congress AFL-CIO Award

Jared Golden was born and raised in Leeds, a small rural town in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District. Growing up, he attended public school before enrolling at the University of Maine, Farmington, in 2001.

As a college freshman, Jared planned to be a high school history teacher. Shortly after he began his first year, however, the September 11th attacks took place and his life changed. Like so many people, Jared felt compelled to act in the wake of the attacks. Both of his grandfathers had served in World War II, and with them in mind, Jared chose to put college on hold and enlist in the United States Marine Corps.

Jared served four years in the military as a Marine Corps infantryman, deploying to Afghanistan in 2004, and Iraq in 2005-2006. After completing his military service, and longing to return to Maine, Jared left the Marine Corps in honorable standing and moved home to Lewiston/Auburn.

As is the experience of so many veterans, the transition from military to civilian life was not easy. Jared took the first job he could find – a low wage position at a motorhome sales center. Soon after, he was forced to pick up a second and third job working nights and weekends, just to get by.

Jared’s transition out of the military became even more complex when he received a letter from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) informing him he had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress (PTS).

Unsure what a PTS diagnosis meant, or how to best seek treatment, Jared had difficulties navigating the VA system, and struggled accessing VA care and benefits due to the department’s well meaning, but often bureaucratic, rules and regulations.

But where the VA system was absent, Jared’s friends, family and community stepped up and had his back. He was lucky to have a job and fortunate to be surrounded by people who supported and cared about him.

One night, while working an evening shift at a pizza shop in Auburn, Jared caught a break. He met and befriended a Bates College Dean who eventually encouraged him to apply to Bates. Much to Jared’s surprise, he was accepted.

While PTS was a challenge, Jared was able to rise to the occasion and overcome it with the support of his community and through his own hard work. And thanks to a government education benefit earned through his military service, Jared was able to attend and graduate from Bates College in 2011 debt free.

After going back to Afghanistan to work as a volunteer schoolteacher, and serving as a professional staff member on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee for Senator Susan Collins, Jared was first elected to represent Lewiston in the Maine House of Representatives in 2014.

As a lifelong Democrat, Jared was motivated to run for two reasons – he wanted to give back to his community, and he wanted to ensure Maine’s government was doing all it could to support returning veterans, particularly with accessing VA benefits.

Jared has worked hard to deliver on those promises. In addition to helping homeless veterans get back on their feet, Jared passed legislation to help veterans access immediate care when experiencing mental health crises, and he increased the number of state employees available to help veterans navigate the VA system.

While his desire to help veterans was a major reason for Jared’s initial run for office, he has also worked passionately on a number of other important issues. Notably, he has fought for union workers and passed legislation for firefighters, police officers, and EMT’s so they can access workers’ compensation benefits for work-related post-traumatic stress diagnoses. He has also advocated for passenger rail services to and from Maine’s inland communities to help grow and strengthen local economies.

In his second term in the Maine House of Representatives, Jared was chosen by his peers to serve as the Democratic Assistant Majority Leader, or Whip.

As a Democratic leader in Augusta, Jared has built a record of success fighting for middle- and working-class people. He has fought passionately for expanded access to healthcare, stronger unions, fairer wages, cleaner energy, better environmental standards, equal rights for women and minorities, and lower prescription medication costs for Maine’s seniors. Jared continues to stand up for his community and his beliefs, and he has been able to deliver real results to the people he was elected to serve.

Today, Jared and his wife, Isobel, live in Lewiston, Maine.