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Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs


Title 38 U.S.C. section 101: Defining ‘Veteran’, How to request military records

Veteran Defined

The general definition of veteran, as established in Title 38 U.S.C. section 101 is found below.  See section 101 for the full definition.

  • A person who served on full time active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces, other than active duty for training, and was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable.
  • An individual who died while serving on active duty, or was disabled or died from a disease or injury incurred or aggravated in the line of duty while performing active duty for training or inactive duty training.
  • Certain members of a reserve component of the U.S. Armed Forces.
  • Certain members of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (formerly the Coast and Geodetic Survey) and the regular or reserve Corps of the Public Health Service.

Military Personnel Record Requests

Copies of discharge documents are required to verify eligibility for most benefits and services specific to military veterans.

Discharge documents are required for admission to Charlotte Hall Veterans Home, Maryland’s Veteran Cemeteries Program, U.S. VA claims, and to receive many other services provided to veterans and their families.

Veterans who meet the following criteria can contact the MDVA Baltimore Service Program Office at 800-446-4926, ext. 6450 to inquire if a copy of discharge papers are on file:

  • World War II veterans, who were Maryland residents at the time of entry into the service
  • Veterans discharged from service after October 15, 1979 and who had a Maryland address at the time of discharge

Veterans and their next of kin can also request a copy of a service member’s DD-214, Certificate of Release, or Discharge from Active Duty, from the National Archives.

For information on how to request a copy of military personnel service record visit The National Archives website.

If access to the internet is unavailable, contact the National Archives at:

The National Archives & Records Administration

8601 Adelphi Road
College Park, MD 20740-6001
1-866-272-6272 or 1-86-NARA-NARA
Fax: 301-837-0483
TDD lines for College Park, MD: 301-837-0482


State Military Retirement Pay and Pension Tax Benefits

Retirement Pay and Pension Tax Deductions and Exclusions

Military Retirement Pay Income Tax Deduction

If you receive or the spouse of a military retiree receives military retirement income, you will be able to subtract up to $5,000, with an increase to the first $15,000 for individuals who are at least 55 years old on the last day of the taxable year, of your military retirement income from your federal adjusted gross income before determining your Maryland tax.  The retirement income must have been received as a result of any of the following military service:

  • Induction into the U.S. Armed forces for training and service under the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 or a subsequent Act of similar nature
  • Membership in a reserve component of the U.S. armed forces
  • Membership in an active component of the U.S. armed forces
  • Membership in the Maryland National Guard

The benefit also applies to persons separated from active duty employment with the commissioned corps of the Public Health Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or the Coast and Geodetic Survey.

Maryland Pension Exclusion

If you are 65 or older or totally disabled (or your spouse is totally disabled), you may qualify for Maryland’s maximum pension exclusion of $31,100 for tax year 2019 under the conditions described in Instruction 13 of the Maryland resident tax booklet. If you’re eligible, you may be able to subtract some of your taxable pension and retirement annuity income from your federal adjusted gross income.

This subtraction applies only if:

  • You were 65 or older or totally disabled, or your spouse was totally disabled, on the last day of the tax year; and
  • You included on your federal return income received as a pension, annuity or endowment from an “employee retirement system.” A traditional IRA, a Roth IRA, a simplified employee plan (SEP), a Keogh Plan or an ineligible deferred compensation plan does not qualify.

For more information visit a local office for tax payer assistance.  For locations, go to the Maryland Comptroller website.

To speak with the Maryland Taxpayer Service call:

  • From Central Maryland, 410-260-7980
  • From all other areas of Maryland, 1-800-MD-TAXES (1-800-638-2937)

Source: Maryland Office of the Comptroller

 


Information for Veteran Owned/Service Disabled Veteran Owned Business Owners

Governor’s Office of Small, Minority & Women Business Affairs

The Governor’s Office of Small, Minority & Women Business Affairs is the State’s primary advocate for small, minority- and women-owned businesses. The Office promotes fairness and compliance in government contracting and endorses the utilization of certified Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) and Small Business Reserve (SBR) firms.  Learning to navigate the procurement process is a critical element of success for any firm that wants to perform as a prime or subcontractor on a government contract.

Small Business Development

The Maryland Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC) provides confidential business services to help refine business plans, identify sources of capital, and develop strategies to support business growth and profitability.  The Maryland SBTDC network is divided into six regions which provide services to entrepreneurs and existing businesses across the state.  Each region offers a variety of training and outreach programs and one-on-one counseling with special emphasis on developing programs that meet the unique needs of businesses within their jurisdiction.

Veteran Owned Small Business Participation in Maryland State Procurement

Veteran-Owned Small Business Enterprise (VSBE) Program
Maryland’s VSBE Program provides contracting opportunities on state-funded procurements for qualified veteran-owned small businesses. Sixty-five agencies/departments are directed to spend at least 1% of the total dollar value of their procurement contracts either directly (prime contractors) or indirectly (subcontractors) with certified VSBE firms. Only the work of a certified VSBE firm can be counted toward meeting an established VSBE contract goal.

Businesses seeking to participate in the VSBE Program must (1) meet the size standards adopted by the United States Small Business Administration in 13 C.F.R. 121.201 and any subsequent revision of that regulation, and; (2) must be at least 51% owned and controlled by one or more individuals who are veterans. A veteran is defined as an individual who is verified as having served on active duty in the armed forces of the United States, other than for training, and was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable.

​Certification as a VSBE vendor
requires 2 elements:
(1) Veteran Verification and
(2) Vendor Registration.

Veteran Verification – The veteran verification process includes, but may not be limited to, completion and submission of DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty. Veteran status must be verified by one of the following entities:

(1) VSBE Program Verification of Veteran Status
Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs

(2) Center for Validation and Evaluation (VetBiz)
United States Department of Veterans Affairs

Complete information regarding the verification process can be found by utilizing the website links provided above.
Vendor Registration – VSBE firms must complete the vendor registration in eMaryland Marketplace Advantage (eMMA), Maryland’s eProcurement platform. Vendors registered in eMMA receive email notices of procurement opportunities available across all state agencies/departments valued over $15,000. County and local governments use the platform to advertise their procurements as well. There is no cost to register in eMMA.

During the registration process, vendors who meet the VSBE Program ‘s elegibility standards should select VSBE under the Procurement Programs category and enter your vertification number in the box provided. If you do not have a verification number at the time you register as a vendor, you can update your vendor profile once you receive the number.

Change of Status Notification – Notify the Governor’s Office of Small, Minority and Women’s Business Affairs within thirty (30) days of any change affecting the firm’s ability to meet the VSBE Program eligibility requirements.

Your business may also qualify for procurement opportunities through the Small Business Reserve (SBR) and/or Minority Business Enterprise (MBE)​ Programs.
​​
Program Qualification Warning
Providing False Information

A person providing false information to the State in connection with retaining, obtaining or attempting to obtain a contract or subcontract under VSBE Program may be subject to one or more of the following:

A determination by a Procurement Officer that a bidder or offeror is not responsible;
A determination by a Procurement Officer that the company is ineligible to participate in a VSBE goal designation;
A determination that a contract entered into is void or voidable under §11-204 of the State Finance and Procurement Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland;
Suspension and debarment under Title 16 of the State Finance and Procurement Article;
Criminal prosecution of procurement fraud under §11-205.1 of the State Finance and Procurement Article, perjury, or other crimes;
Civil penalties under the Maryland False Claims Act under Title 8 of the General Provisions Article; and
Other actions permitted by law.

Other State Programs

  • Ready, Set, GROW! Workshop Series- The Governor’s Office of Small, Minority, and Women Business Affairs is helping small, minority and women business owners compete for State contracting opportunities with a new life workshop series entitled Ready, Set, GROW!.  The two hour workshop will include information about certification in the State’ Minority Business Enterprise Program, vendor enrollment in the Small Business Reserve Program, and where to find procurement opportunities within the 70 participating agencies and tips on how to navigate the procurement process.  Watch a video on the series here.
  • Military Personnel and Veteran Owned Small Business No-Interest Loan Program – The Maryland Department of Commerce administers this no-interest loan program (loan amounts up to $50,000) for business owners who fall under any one of the following categories:
    • Military reservist or National Guard member called to active duty
    • Small business owner who employs a military reservist or National Guard member who was called to active duty
    • A Veteran small business owner – or a veteran seeking to start a small business
    • Small business owner who employs a service-disabled veteran
    • For more information visit the Department of Commerce or contact:
    • Celester Hall
      Program Manager, Office of Finance Programs
      Maryland Department of Commerce
      410-767-6356
  •  

Business Financing

The Maryland Department of Commerce offers a number of financing programs to assist the state’s business community. Specific financing programs for small business clients include the following:

  • Community Development Block Grant Program- dispersed to a local jurisdiction in the form of a conditional grant and then used for public improvements or loaned to a business
  • Maryland Economic Adjustment Fund- assists business entities in the state with modernization of manufacturing operations, development of commercial applications for technology, and exploring and entering new markets
  • Maryland Small Business Development Financing Authority- provides financing for small businesses that are not able to qualify for financing from private lending institutions or owned by socially and economically disadvantaged persons
  • Maryland Economic Development Assistance Authority and Fund- provides assistance to the business community and political jurisdictions with five financing capabilities
  • Maryland Industrial Development Financing Authority- encourages private sector financing in economic development projects located in Priority Funding Areas
  • Maryland Venture Fund- makes direct investments in technology and life science companies and indirect investments in venture capital funds.

Visit the Maryland Department of Commerce website for more information about these programs.

United States Department of Veterans Affairs: Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization

Visit the US Department of Veterans of Affairs Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization to learn more about the verification process to do business with the Federal Government.


Information for Veterans Seeking Employment, State Government Jobs, Military Service Credits

Are you ready to search for a job?  that next career? 

Visit the Maryland Workforce Exchange to begin your search.

Do you need one on one assistance as you search for a job?  that next career?

If so, contact the Maryland Department of Labor for individualized support.

Are you in the National Guard or Reserve Component and searching for a job?  that next career? 

Contact the MD National Guard Transition Assistance Advisor, Pierre Thomas at 410-576-2994

Maryland State Government Careers for Veterans

Maryland State Government appreciates the value of the experience you gained while serving our country.  This page contains resources Maryland provides to returning veterans – employment opportunities, veteran services, upcoming events and more.

Am I eligible for veteran’s credit?

Article – State Personnel and Pensions §7–207.

(2)    (i)   An appointing authority shall apply a credit of ten points on any selection test for:

1.   an eligible veteran;
2.   the spouse of an eligible veteran who has a service connected disability; or
3.   the surviving spouse of a deceased eligible veteran.

(ii)   An appointing authority shall apply a credit of two additional points on any selection test for a former prisoner of war

(g) Credit of five points on selection test.  An appointing authority shall apply a credit of five points on a selection test for an individual disability, as defined by the Federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

Am I eligible to be a certified disabled veteran?  

​In accordance with the Annotated Code of Maryland, State Personnel and Pensions, Section 7–203, if a manager elects to hire from a certified list of disabled veterans, who have served in any U.S. Armed Forces branch, candidates may be selected for employment without a competitive selection process.

To qualify, candidates must: be minimally qualified for the position; be able to perform the duties of the job with or without a reasonable accommodation; and present documentation issued by an appropriate department of the Federal government certifying the existence and extent of the veteran’s disability as listed below.
  • Documentation of being on an U.S. Armed Forces permanent disability list with a disability rating of at least 30%
  • Have been rated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs as having a compensable service-connected disability of at least 30%.
The veteran is not qualified for this option if he/she holds a permanent appointment or has mandatory reinstatement rights to a permanent appointment.
For Certified Disabled Vet consideration, please complete the free names application process for Certified Disabled Veterans (DV) within our Maryland State Online Employment Center.
Are you a Maryland State Government Employee and you also served in the military? 
See below for how your military service may be applied towards service in State Government.

State Service Credit for Military Service

 

 


Information for Employers Who Want to Hire Veterans

Are you an employer looking to hire qualified veterans? 

See below for resources on best practices in hiring and retaining veterans.

Are there tax credits for hiring veterans?  What employers need to know.

A Maryland Department of Commerce Program, The Hire Our Veterans Tax Credit Program provides a state income tax credit to small businesses for hiring qualified veterans based on wages paid to those veteran employees.

BENEFITS
A Maryland employer may qualify for an income tax credit equal to 30% of up to the first $6,000 of wages paid to a qualified veteran employee during the first year of employment (i.e. a maximum of $1,800 per qualified veteran employee).​

ELIGIBILITY

Qualified Employer
A qualified employer is a “small business” operated by an individual, a partnership, a limited partnership, a limited liability partnership, a limited liability company, or a corporation that employs 50 or fewer full-time employees.

Qualified Employee

  • Must have been hired on or after January 1, 2017;

AND

  • Must have served in the active Armed Forces and have been discharged or released from that service under honorable circumstances. “Armed Forces” means the United States Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, & Coast Guard, including related reserve components;

AND

  • Must have served on active duty (not including training) in the Armed Forces for more than 180 days, OR have been discharged or released from active duty for a service-connected disability; AND not have a period of active duty (not including training) of more than 90 days that ended during the 60-day period ending on the hiring date;

AND

  • Must be a Qualified Veteran for purposes of the Federal Work Opportunity Tax Credit, as follows:
    • Be a veteran who is a member of a family that received SNAP benefits (food stamps) for at least a 3-month period during the 15-month period ending on the hiring date;
      OR
    • Be a disabled veteran entitled to compensation for a service-connected disability, who has been hired within 1 year after discharge or release from active duty OR unemployed for at least 6 months in the year ending on the hiring date;
      OR
    • Be a veteran who has been unemployed for at least 4 weeks in the year ending on the hiring date.

LIMITATIONS

  • This credit is only available for wages paid in the qualified veteran’s first year of employment.
  • A qualified employer may claim up to 5 qualified veteran employees for each taxable year.
  • The total amount of credits available in a year is capped at $500,000, and approvals of the tax credit certifications are on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • The tax credit is not refundable.
  • The tax credit cannot be carried forwards or backwards.

APPLY

  • A small business must submit the Application Forms A & B, Qualified Veteran Employee’s Self-Certification Form(s), copies of W-2s and/or paystubs, and copies of DD214 or equivalent official discharge forms to the Maryland Department of Commerce (Commerce) for the certification.
  • Commerce will certify or deny an application within 45 days after the receipt of a “complete” application.

APPLICATION MATERIALS

CLAIM TAX CREDIT
After receiving the tax credit certification from Commerce, the employer must file a tax return with the Comptroller of Maryland for the taxable year in which the certification was issued using Maryland Tax Form 500CR. Maryland Tax Form 500CR must be filed electronically with an attached copy of the certification from​ Commerce. Please note that the credit can be taken against the State income tax ONLY. It is not taken against the county income tax “add-on”. For more information regarding the tax forms and tax return instructions, please visit the Comptroller of Maryland website.

If the employer needs tax information or guidance beyond the scope of the information which is required to apply for the Hire Our Veterans Tax Credit program, please contact the Comptroller of Maryland. Commerce cannot dispense tax advice.

RESOURCES
Chapter 180 (Senate Bill 807)

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT

Emiko Kawagoshi, Tax Specialist, Tax Incentives
Maryland Department of Commerce, Office of Finance Programs
(410) 767-4041
(877) 821-0099
Mark A. Vulcan​, Program Manager, Tax Incentives
Maryland Department of Commerce, Office of Finance Programs
(410) 767-6438
(877) 821-0099

What do employers need to know when employees who are currently serving are called to active duty?

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) protects service members’ reemployment rights when returning from a period of service in the uniformed services, including those called up from the reserves or National Guard, and prohibits employer discrimination based on military service or obligation. The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) administers USERRA.

For more information visit the USERRA website.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor


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Do you have medical equipment to donate?

The Maryland Department of Aging is providing durable medical equipment (DME) to Marylanders with
any illness, injury, or disability, regardless of age, at no cost. All equipment is collected via
donation and is sanitized, repaired, and redistributed to Marylanders in need.
This service will improve the quality of life for many Maryland residents and provides the
opportunity to avoid costlier levels of care. Visit the Maryland Department of Aging DME Program here. 

Equipment Available:
Many residents of Maryland require the use of durable medical equipment such as wheelchairs,
walkers, shower chairs, and other assistive devices, in order to maintain their safety and
mobility. Often the cost of this equipment is a financial burden, not only to uninsured residents,
but also to insured residents whose insurance will not approve the equipment needed or whose
approval is delayed. To address this need, the Maryland Department of Aging has developed an
innovative program to provide durable medical equipment to Maryland residents. Maryland Durable
Medical Equipment Re-Use will serve Marylanders with any illness, injury, or disability, regardless
of age, at no cost, subject to availability. All donated equipment will be sanitized, refurbished,
and redistributed. This service will greatly improve the mobility and quality of life of many
Maryland residents.

Donations Needed:
The Maryland Department of Aging is currently accepting donations of Durable Medical
Equipment. Donated equipment will be sanitized and refurbished to later be provided to adults and
children who need equipment. For more information on how you can donate, please visit the Maryland Department of Aging DME Program or call 240- 230-8000

Environmental:
Protect our landfills! Maryland Durable Medical Equipment Re-Use is currently accepting donations
of new or gently-used durable medical equipment. Please visit our website for a list of collection
sites across the state. These tax-deductible donations will not only improve someone’s quality of
life, but also substantially improve the environment by diverting discarded equipment from our
landfills. 


Women Veterans/Inclusion Program

The MDVA Women Veterans/Inclusion Program collaborates with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, state and local governments, and community organizations to coordinate events to raise awareness of the needs of Maryland’s women, minority, and underserved veteran populations.  In 2022, a statewide advisory group will convene to identify resources to support and advocate on behalf of this group of veterans.  The program manager will be holding focus groups and a round table discussion in advance of establishing this advisory group.  They also participate in workgroups and serve as a subject matter expert regarding the needs of underserved veterans.

The MDVA Women Veterans/Inclusion Program Manager will be hosting four focus groups in February.  The purpose of the groups will be to gain an understanding of the needs of veterans in various populations in four regional areas.  If you are interested in attending, please register according to the region where you live.  Each women veterans focus group will take place between 9:00am-11:00am.  Afternoon focus groups are open to all veterans and will take place between 1:00pm-3:00pm.  Registration is limited.  For veterans not selected to attend, an online survey will be made available.  MDVA encourages individuals not attending a focus group to please complete this survey.  

Focus Group Calendar with Registration Links:

Central Maryland: February 3, 2022

Eastern Shore: February 4, 2022

Southern Maryland: February 10, 2022

Western Maryland: February 11, 2022

On the day of the focus group, women veterans are invited to join between 9:00am-11:00am and all veterans are invited to join between 1:00pm-3:00pm


For more information on the MDVA Women Veterans/Inclusion Program and to learn more, contact:

Ms. Roslyn Jones
Women Veterans/Inclusion Program Manager
Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs
16 Francis Street, 4th Floor
Annapolis, MD 21401
410-260-3971
roslyn.jones1@maryland.gov





Press release and Maryland Governor Larry Hogan’s announcement can be viewed here.

Federal Resources:

US Department of Veterans Affairs Center for Women Veterans
US Department of Veterans Affairs Center for Minority Veterans
US Department of Veterans Affairs LGBTQ+ Health Program

US Department of Veterans Affairs Women Veterans Call Center:
1-855-VA-WOMEN (1-855-829-6636)
Women Veterans Healthcare Information

WOMEN VETERANS SURVEY
The US Department of Veterans Affairs is currently conducting a survey to better understand why some women veterans are not using their healthcare system and what can be done to better serve them.  If you are a woman who served in the United States Uniformed Services, please take a few moments to complete this survey.

Link to complete the survey


Cheltenham Veterans Cemetery Construction Updates

Cheltenham Veterans Cemetery
Construction Updates

The Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs Cheltenham Veterans Cemetery is currently undergoing construction.  We ask for your patience during this time.

The installation of underground pipe will affect roadways as workers move from the maintenance area to the front of the cemetery shelter.  You may find unpaved roads and active construction, dependent upon what area of the cemetery you are visiting.

If you have questions regarding access, please do not hesitate contacting the cemetery office at 301-372-6398.


Learning Videos

The Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs maintains a YouTube channel.  Visit the channel to view special videos as well as learning sessions on veteran benefits and programs.

Memorial Day 2020

Veterans Day 2020

Memorial Day 2021

Women Veterans/Inclusion Program Launch 2021

Veterans Services Specialist Program in State Government

 


Perseverance and Caregiving

Perseverance, Resilience, and Strength: What we can learn from caregivers during a health pandemic.

The Nation and our great State of Maryland have faced innumerable challenges this year. Some among us are enduring sporadic unemployment or job loss, students are struggling to learn in a virtual environment, and to a large degree almost everyone has seen a disruption in normal routine. Despite the trials we have all faced in 2020, all around us there are signs of resilience, perseverance, and strength.

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to visit Kingdom Celebration Center in Odenton for a Thanksgiving meal giveaway to service members, veterans and Gold Star Families in need. The outpouring of support truly made my holiday season. Many of the volunteers were veterans themselves and Gold Star Mothers. In just a few hours more than 75 turkeys and fresh produce was distributed. We truly are a nation that rises to the occasion to help a friend, a neighbor, or a veteran in need. I truly believe we are also a nation that refuses to hang up the hat and that will never give up the ship.

Perseverance and strength are also qualities found in the nation’s 5.5 million military and veteran caregivers. As we close out November’s National Family Caregivers Month, I believe we can all learn something from the resilience exemplified by family members who provide care to a loved one. But during a national health crisis, even the most resilient can struggle.

Today, I watched a PREVENTS sponsored discussion on caregiver mental health. The health pandemic has undeniably increased stress for family caregivers, not just for those caring for military veterans. And now more than ever, they need to know there is community support and opportunities for respite.

The discussion today highlighted the Elizabeth Dole Foundation’s Hidden Heroes Program. The mission of the program is to bring “vital attention to the untold stories of military caregivers and seek solutions for the tremendous challenges and long term needs they face”. Hidden Heroes has established a national registry for caregivers to better connect them to resources. If you are a caregiver to a wounded service member or veteran, please visit the program today.

We also learned more about the Independence Fund. Founded in 2007, the Fund’s mission is to “empower severely wounded veterans and their caregivers to take control of their lives. They provide the resources and tools that enable veterans to regain their independence, and fight for their ability to sustain it”.

Finally, a program I was already familiar with but remains worthy of mention is the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers. Veterans can appoint a primary family caregiver and up to two secondary family caregivers. Services include caregiver education and training, mental health counseling and travel/lodging when traveling with the veteran receiving care. In addition, eligible veterans and caregivers may receive a monthly stipend and up to 30 days a year of respite care. Veterans and family caregivers can learn more by calling the Caregiver Support Line at 855-260-3274.

As the former military spouse to a combat wounded veteran, I wish I’d known of these programs. My hope is that all who read this blog entry will share these resources with friends and family who may be serving in a caregiving role. And if you are one of the millions who care for a service member or veteran, I hope you will make these connections, too.

As always, if you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, contact the Veterans Crisis Line at 800-273-8255 and Press 1, text to 838255 or chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat.

Author:
Dana Burl, Outreach Program Director
MD Department of Veterans Affairs

 


Ask The Question Campaign

Maryland Governor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide
among Military Service Members, Veterans, and Families
Ask the Question Campaign
HAVE YOU OR A LOVED ONE EVER SERVED IN THE MILITARY?

This year the Hogan-Rutherford Administration accepted an invitation from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to participate in the Governor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide among Service Members, Veterans, and Families (SMVF).  The Challenge is a call to action to collaborate, plan, and implement suicide prevention SMVF best practices and policies. The Department of Health (MDH) and Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA) are leading a team of more than 30 federal, state, and local partners to develop the plan.

The National Strategy for Preventing Veteran Suicide 2018-2028 provides Governor’s Challenge Teams a framework for identifying priorities.    The strategic priorities work together to promote wellness, increase protection, reduce risk and promote effective treatment and recovery.   The three best policy and practice priorities include: identify SMVF and screen for suicide risk, promote connectedness and improve care transitions, and increase lethal means safety and safety planning.  In order to align the SAMHSA action plan to Senate Bill 521 (Comprehensive Statewide Veterans Suicide Prevention Plan) Maryland added one additional priority: peer support.

Maryland is home to approximately 350,000 veterans, 30,000 active duty service members and 18,000 reservists/national guard members.  In addition, there are 130,000 veteran households with children and another 60,000 reserve/national guard/active duty dependents.  

According to the MDVA 2019 Annual Report, only about 40% of Maryland veterans are enrolled in the VA healthcare system. The Maryland veteran suicide rate is 17% and hovers almost 4% higher than the total rate of 13% (per 100,000 population).  Of the veterans lost nationally to suicide, an average of 40% were not enrolled in VA healthcare.  RAND studies indicate that many providers do not know whether their clients have served and also do not have high military cultural competency. 

Not feeling understood is one of the key barriers to SMVF not seeking civilian services.  Asking people the question, “Have you or a loved one ever served in the military?” starts the conversation, training providers on military cultural competency promotes understanding, and educating providers on military/veteran resources builds connections.  

Maryland’s Ask the Question Campaign: Have you or a loved one ever served in the military?

The “Ask the Question” Campaign is one suicide prevention strategy which encourages human services professionals, state and local government, and community providers to ask consumers whether they or a loved one have served in the military.  Asking this question promotes the opportunity to educate and connect more people to valuable military/veteran related programs, thereby improving overall well-being of our service members, veterans and families.

Human services professionals are encouraged to complete training on military cultural competency and to learn about military/veteran related benefits and programs.  Many training opportunities are available at no cost and can be completed online.

Learn more about training and resources on military cultural competency here.

Ask the Question Campaign infographic and resources.  Available for downloading and sharing.

Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs quick reference guide with resources.

For questions contact Joy Ashcraft, Director, Maryland’s Commitment to Veterans, MDH-BHA, Lead Governor’s Challenge Team, joy.ashcraft@maryland.gov, or Dana Burl , MDVA Outreach Program Director, Co-Lead Governor’s Challenge Team, dana.burl@maryland.gov.


Do you need to apply for VA benefits? Contact our Service Program for assistance.

(UPDATED December 1, 2021) PLEASE SEE BELOW FOR OFFICE LOCATIONS AND STATUS OF OPERATIONS AT INDIVIDUAL OFFICES.  

The Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs Service and Benefits Program provides assistance to the men and women who served in the Uniformed Services of the United States, their dependents, and survivors in obtaining benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense, State of Maryland and other programs for veterans and their families.

Located in communities throughout Maryland, Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs Service Officers assist veterans and their eligible dependents in acquiring benefits. For assistance, contact the full time office most convenient to you. Appointments for satellite offices may be scheduled through the Program office nearest the satellite location.  During your initial visit with MDVA staff, they will review military separation discharge documents, DD214’s and individual circumstances of service in order to provide the best possible assistance.  Staff will review the three elements of the VA system: the Veterans Health Administration, Veterans Benefits Administration, and the National Cemeteries Administration.  A review of Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs programs will also be completed to include the Maryland Cemetery Program, Charlotte Hall Veterans Home, as well as other Maryland programs designed to assist veterans.  
A typical visit can also generate a disability compensation/pension claim for submission to the Veterans Benefits Administration. Our Service Officers assist with developing, preparing and submitting compensation/pension claims to the Veterans Benefits Administration.  For veterans and dependents who receive our services, staff will track processing claims and assist with additional development requests made by the Veterans Benefits Administration.  Once the claims process has been completed, our staff review the Veterans Benefits Administration decision and, if successful, review all applicable ancillary benefits.  It pays to seek representation when filing claims for federal Veterans Affairs disability benefits.  The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs data shows that veterans represented by accredited organizations receive significantly greater disability benefits than their non-represented counterparts.

Unless otherwise noted, all MDVA Service Program offices are open Monday-Friday, 8:00-4:00, by appointment only.  Please call an office near you to schedule an appointment in advance of visiting.

Baltimore: Regional Office

Phil Munley, Director
Debra Hynes, Deputy Director
Gerry Taylor, Chief, Veterans Appeals
Cardell Bass, Western Area Supervisor
Garry Brown,Veterans Benefit Specialist Advanced
Stacy Travers, Veterans Benefits Specialist Advanced
Katherine Perkins, Office Secretary II
31 Hopkins Plaza, Room 3020
Baltimore, MD 21201
800-446-4926, ext. 6450 (follow prompts for transfer to appropriate staff person)
Fax: 410-230-4445

Baltimore VA Medical Center (Monday and Friday, 9:00-3:00)

Garry Brown, Veterans Benefits Specialist II
VA Maryland Healthcare System
10 North Greene Street, 6th Floor
Baltimore, MD 21201
410-299-0304

Bel Air

Michael Cantrell, Veterans Benefits Specialist II
Motor Vehicle Administration
Bel Air Service Center
501 W. Macphail Road
Bel Air, MD  21014
410-638-6501 (benefits specialist)
410-638-638-6507 (office secretary)
410-683-6549 (fax)

Camp Springs (Per Prince George’s County/Harriet Hunter Building: in person appointments now accepted, visitors must be masked, agree to temperature checks, and complete a COVID screening questionnaire upon entry)

Joseph Thornton, Veterans Benefits Specialist II (temporarily assigned to Gaithersburg)
Aaron Awkward, Veterans Benefits Specialist II
Mikele Moses-El, Office Secretary II
Harriet Hunter Building, 6420 Allentown Road
Camp Springs, MD 20748
301-248-0463

Veterans Services Program of Carroll County (Supported by, but not an MDVA service office): Call for information on hours

125 Stoner Avenue
Westminster, MD 21157
410-386-3800

Charlotte Hall

Willie Borden, Jr., Veterans Benefits Specialist II
29431 Charlotte Hall Rd., Room 211
Charlotte Hall, MD 20622
240-577-7083, 301-884-8036

Glen Burnie

James Wilkes, Veterans Benefits Specialist II
Sarah Jackson, Office Secretary II
Motor Vehicle Administration
Glen Burnie Service Center, Ground Floor
6601 Ritchie Highway
Room 30 (for a benefits specialist)
Room 8A (for mail)
Glen Burnie, MD 21062
410-424-3039
410-424-3047 (fax)

Laurel (Hours Monday-Friday, 8:00-4:00, in person appointments starting July 12)

Andrew Rutherford, Veterans Benefits Specialist II
Howard County Multi-Service Center
9900 Washington Blvd., Suite I
Laurel, MD 20723
410-313-0229

Cumberland

Aaron Clark, Veterans Benefits Specialist Advanced
Cumberland Motor Vehicle Administration Service Center
13300 Winchester Road, SW
Cumberland, MD 21502
301-729-4676

Easton

Janet C. Thomas, Area Supervisor
Catherine (Cathy) Clevenger, Office Secretary II
11 South Harrison Street
Easton, MD 21601 (physical address)
P.O. Box 1148
Easton, MD 21601 (mailing address)
410-690-7181

Frederick

Keri Keefer, Veterans Benefits Specialist II
Multi-Service Center
100 West Patrick St., Rm 2120
Frederick, MD 21701
301-600-2155

Gaithersburg

David Skisano, Veterans Benefits Specialist II
Gaithersburg Motor Vehicle Administration Service Center
15 Metropolitan Grove Road
Gaithersburg, MD 20878
301-987-8412/301-987-8413
(Fax) 301-987-8496

Hagerstown

Andrea Jones, Veterans Benefits Specialist II
Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration Service Center
18306 Col. Henry K. Douglas Drive
Hagerstown, MD 21740
240-527-6894
FAX: 240-527-6893

Salisbury

Michelle Licata, Veterans Benefits Specialist II
Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration
Salisbury Branch
251 Tilghman Road
Salisbury, MD 21804
(O) 410-219-7256
(F) 410-219-7257

Satellite Office Locations: CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC AT THIS TIME

Call the Baltimore Regional Office (800-446-4926, ext. 6450) to schedule an appointment at these locations:

Baltimore VA Medical Center, 10 North Greene St., Baltimore

Ft. Meade VA Community Outpatient Clinic, 2479 5th St., Ft. Meade

VA Loch Raven Community Living and Rehabilitation Center, 3901 The Alameda, Baltimore

Call the Bel Air Full Time Office (410-836-4900) to schedule an appointment at these locations:

Aberdeen Proving Ground, 4305 Susquehanna Ave., Aberdeen

Perry Point VA Medical Center, Perry Point

Call the Cumberland Full Time Office (301-759-5251/5252) to schedule an appointment at this location:

American Legion Home, 423 Memorial Drive, Oakland

Call the Easton Full Time Office (410-690-7181) to schedule an appointment at these locations:

County Office Building, 501 Court Ln., Room 101, Cambridge

Call the Rockville Full Time Office (240-567-5405) to schedule an appointment at these locations:

Silver Spring VET Center, 2900 Linden Lane, #100, Silver Spring

Call the Salisbury Full Time Office (410-713-3482) to schedule an appointment at these location:

Ocean Pines Library, 11107 Cathell Rd., Berlin

Snow Hill Library, 307 N. Washington St., Pocomoke

Please note: On outreach days, the corresponding full time service center is closed.


Help is one call, text, or chat away

While Suicide Prevention Awareness Month draws to a close, the operational tempo for prevention continues at rapid pace.

In 2020, Maryland kicked off the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration/US Department of Veterans Affairs Governor’s Challenge to Prevent Service Member, Veteran and Family (SMVF) Suicide. The goal of the Governor’s Challenge is to prevent service member and veteran suicide by using a public health approach to suicide prevention that utilizes a combination of community-based prevention strategies and evidence-based clinical interventions to empower communities and individuals to take action. The Challenges bring cities, communities, and states together to form inter-agency teams dedicated to increasing suicide prevention resources for veterans in their communities.

Maryland is proud to have been chosen as one of the Governor’s Challenge teams.  Leaders of the team are the Maryland Department of Health/Behavioral Health Administration/Maryland’s Commitment to Veterans and the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs.  Through partnerships with the US Department of Veterans Affairs, University of Maryland, Prince George’s County Veterans Commission, Holy Cross Hospital, numerous state agencies, as well as others, we have had tremendous success creating action plans to support service members, veterans, and their families.

The action plan focuses on four key priority areas: identification of SMVF and screening for risk, building connections and transition coordination, lethal means safety, and peer support.  The action plan presented to the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will help inform the Maryland-based Comprehensive Veterans Suicide Prevention Plan required by Maryland SB521.

“Each and every life taken by suicide is a devastating loss for our state, and this tragedy strikes far too often among Maryland’s community of military service members, veterans, and their family members,” said Governor Hogan. “If you or someone you know may be at risk, I urge you to speak up, reach out, and know that you are not alone.”

Talking about mental health and suicide at community, state, and national levels can be difficult, but it is invaluable. Practicing lethal means safety, recognizing warning signs of suicide in peers and community members, and learning how to practice safe messaging are all community level actions that can save lives.

There is no single solution to suicide, and the connection and support we receive in our community matters.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, contact the Veterans Crisis Line to receive free, confidential support and crisis intervention available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, text to 838255 or chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat

For more information on federal and state level initiatives/groups addressing prevention please visit:

Maryland Governor’s Commission on Suicide Prevention

Maryland’s Commitment to Veterans

PREVENTS Task Force (Presidents Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End the National Tragedy of Suicide)

US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Governor’s Challenge

US Department of Veterans Affairs Suicide Prevention Resources

Author:
Dana Burl, Outreach Program Director
MD Department of Veterans Affairs

Source: US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Governor’s Challenge Communications Toolkit

 

 

 

 


National/State Suicide Prevention Initiatives

For immediate support, 24/7, call the Veterans Crisis Line at
1-800-273-8255 and press 1.  Help is confidential and the line is available for veterans and their families.  Chat is also available at VeteransCrisisLine.net or text to 838255.

Not sure what to expect when you call?  Find answers here:
VeteransCrisisLine


Governor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide among Service Members, Veterans and Families 

In the Spring of 2020, the Hogan-Rutherford Administration accepted an invitation from the United States Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to participate in the national Governor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide Among Service Members, Veterans and Families.  A team of more than 30 professionals representing federal, state, and local government as well as private sector and non profit organizations has met since June of 2020 to develop an action plan designed to combat the serious issue of suicide in the military connected community.  The plan was presented to the Administration in November of 2020.  In March of 2020, the Maryland team participated in the SAMHSA facilitated implementation academy.

The team is focusing on four strategic priorities:
1. Identifying service members, veterans and their families and screening for suicide risk
2. Promoting connectedness and improving care transitions
3. Lethal means safety and safety planning
4. Peer support

Learn more about the Challenge here: Governor’s Challenge Information.

Team Leads:
Joy Ashcraft, Director, Maryland’s Commitment to Veterans, MD Department of Health
contact: joy.ashcraft@maryland.gov
Dana Burl, Director, Outreach Program, MD Department of Veterans Affairs
contact: dana.burl@maryland.gov

PREVENTS (Presidents Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide)

The President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide (PREVENTS) will focus on a holistic public health approach to suicide prevention. PREVENTS seeks to change the culture surrounding mental health and suicide prevention through enhanced community integration, prioritized research activities, and implementation strategies that emphasize improved overall health and well-being.

The goal of PREVENTS is to prevent suicide — among not just Veterans but all Americans. By adopting a holistic public health approach, PREVENTS is acting on the knowledge that suicide prevention is everyone’s business, and that by working together, locally and nationally, we can prevent suicide.

PREVENTS is building on the critical successes of suicide prevention pioneers and agencies working with service members and Veterans. The PREVENTS task force is partnering with stakeholders from multiple sectors, including nonprofits, state and local organizations, Fortune 500 companies, and government leaders, to implement best practices to improve health and prevent suicide.

SOURCE: va.gov/prevents/

September 1, 2020 Governor Hogan proclaimed September as National Suicide Prevention Month in Maryland.  Maryland joins the PREVENTS nationwide campaign to increase awareness of mental health issues and suicide prevention to reduce suicide for all Americans.  The proclamation was signed September 1, 2020 by Governor Larry Hogan, Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford, and Secretary of State John C. Wobensmith.

Learn more about the PREVENTS initiative here: PREVENTS.

Maryland Governor’s Commission on Suicide Prevention

Executive Order 01.01.2018.26 (Amended Executive Order 01.01.2009.13) was signed by Governor Larry Hogan on October 11, 2018 to modernize the Governor’s Commission on Suicide Prevention (the Commission). The Commission was created to strengthen and coordinate the state’s suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention services. The amended executive order expands the existing commission membership to be more representative in age, profession, and life experience as well as more clearly aligns the commission’s duties with changing times.​

For more information on the Commission visit: Governor’s Commission on Suicide Prevention

HG § 4-219—Veteran and Armed Forces Member Suicides Annual Report 2020
Maryland Ann. Code Health-General Art., §4-219, established a requirement for the Maryland Department of Health to produce an annual report describing deaths due to suicide among Maryland residents who were veterans of the United States Armed Forces, or who were currently serving in the U.S. Armed Forces at the time of their death. This statute stipulates that the report is only to include information on suicide deaths disaggregated by age, sex, race/ethnicity, and method of suicide among those who had served in the Armed Forces. This report is to be produced and submitted annually through December 2021 to the State Department of Veterans Affairs, the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee, the Senate Finance Committee, and the House Health and Government Operations Committee.


Women in Military Service

Saluting the Women who Serve
June 16, 2020

This past Saturday, June 13, 2020, The United States Military Academy at West Point graduated 230 women as Commissioned Officers.  As I sat watching the graduation, held with social distancing and crisp white chairs posted six feet apart, I was honored to see so many women among the ranks of graduates.  While there is still work to be done, women have come a long way since they were first admitted in 1976 to West Point.

This year marks the 40th graduating class with women at the Academy.  With a motto “Duty Honor Country”, women can now attend Ranger School and branch infantry and armor.  Women in service today are making Rosie the Riveter proud.  With less than 10 percent of all applicants receiving acceptance to West Point, women are joining the esteemed ranks of the officers before and beside them.

Earlier this year, our Governor announced 2020 as “The Year of the Woman”.  MDVA has made it a point to highlight the women who serve on our various veteran commissions.  We’ve had the opportunity to share their biographies and stories of their military service.    Our electronic newsletter is an excellent source of information but it is also growing to include human-interest stories.  I recommend all who read this blog to enroll to receive it!  (sign up at veterans.maryland.gov)

For now though, let’s get back to celebrating women in military service by taking a walk back in time.  Going back as far as 1775 women served during wartime as nurses, cooks, and even spies.  In 1866, Cathay Williams was the first and only African American woman to enlist as a Buffalo Soldier, but only after using a male name.

More than 400,000 women served in what were considered ‘noncombat roles’ during World War II.  Interesting to note however is that 88 were captured as prisoners of war and 16 were killed in action.  It was only in 1948 that women began to serve as permanent members of the military, no longer only serving during wartime.  More than 50,000 women served during the Korean War and 11,000 women deployed to Vietnam, with 90% of these women serving as nurses.

Since Desert Storm, women have flown combat missions in Iraq and received the Silver Star.  In 2014, Admiral Michelle Howard became the first Four Star Admiral.  The first women graduated from ranger school in 2015 and the first three women graduated from marine infantry school in 2017.  We’ve come a long way, haven’t we!?!

Despite their many accomplishments, women continue to face adversity during service. The US Department of Veterans Affairs is working to combat the challenges experienced and the difficulties following separation from service.  All VA medical centers now have Women Veteran Program Managers and the VA maintains a nationwide Women Veterans Call Center.  To learn more, call 855-VA-WOMEN or visit the VA Women Veterans Program.

On behalf of the entire MDVA, I say thank you to our women who have bravely served the nation in times of war and in peace.  Congratulations to our recent academy graduates, in the words of the Air Force, ‘Aim High!’

Author:
Dana Burl, Outreach Program Director
MD Department of Veterans Affairs

Sources: Wikipedia, Task and Purpose, Department of the Army


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