20 December 2019 MDVA News and Announcements

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Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs

News and Announcements  -  December 20, 2019


Chinese Delegation Visits MDVA Veterans Cemetery

20th Logo


A Delegation of 20 Representatives from the Ministries of Veterans Affairs of the People's Republic of China visited the MDVA Veterans Cemetery in Crownsville recently.  The Delegates asked to visit, tour the cemetery and meet with MDVA staff to discuss best practices for veterans cemeteries.  In addition, an Honors Ceremony was conducted by the Maryland National Guard, and detailed information on interments and columbariums were provided to the members of the Delegation. 

Read more about the MDVA Cemeteries and Memorial Program.

Chinese Delegation Photo

Bowie Senior Center Volunteers

Volunteers from the Bowie Senior Center come to Crownsville Veterans Cemetery each year to place wreaths.

Cheltenham Photo

Volunteers rally in inclement weather to place wreaths at Cheltenham Veterans Cemetery as part of the Wreaths Across America project.

Mr. Satterthwaite photo

COL George Satterthwaite, on the right has served as the Wreaths Across America coordinator at Cheltenham Veterans cemetery for the last 12 years.  Under his watch, the number of wreaths placed at Cheltenham has grown from 200 the first year to 14,310 this year.  Colonel Satterthwaite is 85 years old and will be passing the job of coordinator on to someone else for 2020.  Thank you, Colonel Satterthwaite for your dedication and commitment.  Your service is greatly appreciated.

In this photo, Prince George's County Councilman Sydney J. Harrison and COL Satterthwaite are presenting the Navy wreath during the ceremony.

Cheltenham final

Cheltenham, at day's end.

Veterans Day Concert Photo

Maryland Veterans Commissioner Penny Collins attended the 3rd Annual Veterans Day Concert sponsored by the Blind Industries & Services of Maryland and the Veterans Mental Health Advisory Council from the VA Medical Center in Washington, DC.  Commissioner Collins presented Proclamations from the Governor to the three Honorees.  From left to right: SFC Geneo Leon Graves, US ARMY-OIF/OEF; GYSGT Curtis Jones, USMC (ret)-OIF/OEF, Commissioner Collins and John Fay, USMC.

In the background, Naviere Walkewicz, Ms. Veteran America 2019 is visible.

Charlotte Hall Donation

The Mid-Shore Veterans Group visited Charlotte Hall Veterans Home, bringing good cheer and donations.  In this photo are from left to right: Heather Blunt, Ginger Ball, Sharon Murphy, Director of Charlotte Hall Veterans Home, Marsha Blann, Beverly Baxter, Cody Blunt, Buddy Hitchen, and Tony Blunt.  Not pictured is Royce Ball.  The donation included blankets, toiletries and other items from the Charlotte Hall Wish List.  In addition, a 50" TV donated by the Mid-Shore Veterans Group will be delivered for the Assisted Living Dining Room.

Mr. Levillain photo

Mr. Wayne Levillian, a World War II Veteran recently celebrated his 100th birthday.  Mr. Levillian served as an Army Medic in the 20th Infantry, 6th Division.  Governor Hogan issued a Governor's Citation to honor Mr. Levillian at his birthday celebration.  Shown in this photo are:  Mrs. Virginia Levillian with Mr. Levillian.  The couple has been married for 67 years.  Not shown is Maryland Veterans Commissioner Karen Calvert, who presented the Citation on behalf of the Governor.

It has been an event-filled two weeks.  Please scroll to the bottom of the e-newsletter to view more photos.

State Partner News

First Day Hikes Offer a Fresh Start to 2020

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources invites everyone to join a First Day Hike, Maryland’s annual tradition for a fun, healthy kickoff to the New Year.

On Jan. 1, 2020, the Maryland Park Service will offer 40 guided hikes on 33 state lands and parks, as part of a nationwide event sponsored by America’s State Parks. The earliest of the hikes starts at 8 a.m. while the latest has been planned to take advantage of year’s first sunset.

Among the new hikes planned are a “Year of the Woman” hike at Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park in Dorchester County, and a First Day Birding Hike at Chapman State Park in Charles County. 

These hikes will provide a variety of outdoor adventures and experiences for every level of hiker and walker, including unique access to Maryland’s cultural, historic natural resources and treasures, along with opportunities for education and stewardship. Many hikes are even pet-friendly.

Numerous parks, state forests, and wildlife management areas will also be open Jan. 1 for self-guided treks.

“There’s no better way to start 2020 than with an invigorating hike exploring Maryland’s beautiful public lands,” Maryland Secretary of Natural Resources Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio said. “This growing tradition brings thousands of Marylanders together in resolution for better health and connection with our natural resources. There is a hike waiting for you in every corner of our state, for every ability and age.”

Among those hiking will be Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, continuing his commitment to visiting all Maryland state parks and other public lands by the time he leaves office. Lt. Gov. Rutherford began 2019 with a hike at Patapsco Valley State Park.

On New Year’s Day 2019, more than 3,700 people hiked 8,500 miles on 36 different First Day HIkes throughout Maryland — triple the previous year’s numbers. 

Governor Hogan Proclaims 2020 as Year of the Woman in Maryland

Commemorates 100th Anniversary of Women’s Right to Vote

Governor Larry Hogan has proclaimed 2020 as the Year of the Woman in Maryland as the state prepares to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote. At the kickoff event held at The Lightbox Studio in Annapolis, Governor Hogan was joined by members of the Governor’s Commission on the Commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of the Passage of the 19th Amendment, including Major General (ret.) Linda Singh, the first female Adjutant General of the Maryland National Guard and chair of the Commission.

“Our state’s history has been shaped by extraordinary women leaders, and our administration remains committed to empowering and advocating for women in Maryland,” said Governor Hogan. “I look forward to the many events taking place statewide to commemorate the Year of the Woman. ”

“We are pleased to join Governor Hogan in recognizing both historical and contemporary Maryland women for their myriad contributions to the state and to the nation,” said Major General Singh. “Their stories are told at destinations across Maryland through attractions, special events, curated exhibits and women-centric activities.”

The Commission’s signature event, presented in partnership with Notre Dame of Maryland University and the Women of the World organization, is the WOW Festival on March 7, 2020 at the Columbus Center in Baltimore. The Commission is also collaborating with the Maryland Commission for Women to host the 2020 Women’s Centennial Summit on August 26, 2020 at the Lowe House Office Building in Annapolis. The summit, which is free and open to the public, will offer a day of leadership training and development for adult and young women.

In addition, the Maryland Department of Commerce’s Office of Tourism will lead a targeted marketing strategy to highlight attractions, events, activities, trails, exhibits, and experiences that honor women throughout the state.

“The Maryland Office of Tourism has compiled an impressive list of events and activities to be held around the state as we mark this important anniversary and honor the many contributions that women have made in helping to shape the Maryland we know today,” said Maryland Commerce Secretary Kelly M. Schulz.

For more information and to plan your tour of Maryland, go to https://www.visitmaryland.org/list/2020-year-woman-maryland

Maryland Department of Natural Resources is Hiring: Veterans Encouraged to Apply

Current List of Job Openings


University of Maryland Study Seeks Veterans

Have you experienced a traumatic event in your life? Do thoughts about this experience affect you now? Do you use alcohol to get relief? We are conducting a research study of a medication that may help people who have experienced a traumatic event feel better and drink less. Traumatic events are things like physical or sexual assault, war zone exposure, serious accidents, and natural disasters. To learn more, go to: http://www.rethinkyourdrinking.org/, email us at rethinkyourdrinking@som.umaryland.edu, or contact us by phone (410) 402-6412.

State Gathers Small, Minority, Women and Veteran Business Owners in Baltimore to Connect with Buyers, Present Governor's Citations

Final 2019 Workshop Hosted by Governor's Office of Small, Minority & Women Business Affairs

ANNAPOLIS, MD – The Governor’s Office of Small, Minority & Women Business Affairs hosted its final Ready, Set, GROW! Procurement Connections Workshop for 2019 at Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore. More than 120 small, minority, women, and veteran business owners attended the event. Governor’s citations were presented to three local outstanding entrepreneurs.

The workshop, hosted in collaboration with the Mayor’s Office of Small, Minority and Women Business, included insightful tips for navigating the procurement process and highlighted existing opportunities with city and state agencies. Vendors had the opportunity to meet with 22 different buyers during the open networking session that followed the program. Eight small business resource organizations also participated, providing access to managerial and financial resources.

“The state contracting arena can be tough to navigate,” said Jimmy Rhee, special secretary of the Governor’s Office of Small, Minority & Women Business Affairs. “We host the workshop at locations around the state. Our goal is to help small business compete with confidence.”

During the program, the following entrepreneurs received a Governor’s Citation in recognition of their contributions to Maryland’s small business community and the community at large:

  • Jeffrey Hargrave – Mahogany, Inc.
  • Moustafa Khalis – S&M Professional Cleaning Service, LLC 
  • Deonn Henderson, Marcus Howard, and Kyle O’Connor – The Startup Nest, Inc.

The Governor’s Office of Small, Minority & Women Business Affairs conducts the Ready, Set, GROW! Procurement Connections Workshops at locations across the state. The 2020 schedule is currently being developed, and is expected to visit Montgomery, Harford, Anne Arundel, Prince George’s, Queen Anne’s, and Howard counties. For more information, visit: https://gomdsmallbiz.maryland.gov/Pages/Ready-Set-GROW.aspx. 

Federal Partner News

Enroll in VA Health Care

VISN 5 logo

Do you know a Veteran in Maryland who hasn't enrolled in VA health care? Or do you know someone who is enrolled but whose income or status has changed? With services from hearing aids to hypertension, and treatments for everything from COPD to PTSD, the VA wants to make sure that all eligible Veterans get the low- to no-cost benefits they’ve earned, no matter when they served. Eligible veterans can also use VA health care in addition to any coverage they already have — and retirees can enroll in VA and keep their Medicare coverage. Find out more today. Visit our site to learn about services available, Maryland locations, and how to apply

VA Insurance Update

                Over the past year, VA Insurance Service announced an important change in life insurance benefits for Servicemembers and their families.  On July 1, 2019 Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) reduced the Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) monthly premium rate from 7 cents per $1,000 to 6.5 cents per $1,000 of Insurance. Additionally, the Family SGLI premium rates were reduced for spousal coverage at all age brackets.

            The Family SGLI Program premium rate reduction is the fourth premium decrease in the 18 years the program has been in existence.  VA regularly reviews claims experience and the financial position of the program and has reduced premiums whenever possible.

            “For a Servicemember with the maximum $400,000 of SGLI coverage, this will mean a decrease of $2.00 a month in premiums,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie.  “Servicemembers with spouses covered under Family SGLI will see and additional average monthly premiums decreased ranging from 10 to 32 percent depending on the age and the amount of coverage for the spouse.”

            Servicemembers with SGLI and Family SGLI coverage saw a change in the deduction from their pay for the first time during the month of July 2019. Members drilling for points, or not receiving pay for other reasons, were billed by their service department for the reduced premium rates that began in July.  For more information including the tables of the new premium rates, please visit, www.benefits.va.gov/insurance .


Maryland Veteran Celebrates 100th Birthday by flying a plane from Frederick, MD to Dover, DE. AirForce Times article,  Happy Birthday to Colonel Charles McGee, Tuskegee Airman.

Feds Hire Vets - federal employment information for veterans

Tips for Managing Stress Around the Holidays

National Veterans Creative Arts Competition & Festival

Board of Veterans Appeals to offer Virtual Hearings in 2020

VA Claims Processing Update

VA Extends Benefits to Offshore Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans January 1st

VA Announces Proposal to Increase Access to Dental Care

2020 Census: Is Census Date Safe & Secure Video

Selective Service System

Military Discounts, MilitaryBenefits Info

Community Partner News

For Your Information

The Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs does not endorse the organizations sponsoring these events, and we do not endorse the views they express or the products/services they offer.  The views and opinions expressed in any referenced document do not necessarily state or reflect those of MDVA.  The information provided is intended for your general knowledge only, and serves solely as a MDVA community outreach effort.

Community News

Project Opportunity offering Entrepreneur Training for Spouses of Service Members and Veterans.  More Information


Maryland Center for Veterans Employment & Training (MCVET) Fundraiser Makes National News: GMA Video


Save the Date: Feb. 15, 2020 - Buffalo Soldiers Memorial Banquet, Baltimore


2020 Black History Month Leadership and Service Award Nominations Open

Community Calendar

December 20, 2019

Charlotte Hall Holiday Bazaar

January 15, 2020

Military Spouse Virtual Career Expo

January 16, 2020

100th Anniversary of VFW Post 327, Lansdowne

January 25, 2020

2020 Winter Haven/Stand Down, Washington, DC

Veterans Leadership Meeting II, Annapolis

More Photos from Around the State

Wreaths Across America

This photo was taken at the Wreaths Across America event at Pine Grove Cemetery in Mount Airy. Photo Credit: Josh Marks

Mt. Airey Cemetery

Despite heavy rain, many attended the Wreaths Across America event at Pine Grove Cemetery.  In this photo are MDVA Deputy Secretary Robert Finn, Ms. Wendi Peters, Maryland Special Secretary for Smart Growth and her dad, Mr. Billy Wagner, who served as a Corporal in the United States Marine Corps from 1957 - 1960.

Crownsville Veterans Cemetery Volunteers unload trucks

At Crownsville Veterans Cemetery, many volunteers helped unload wreaths from delivery trucks.

Truck arriving at Cheltenham

A tractor trailer loaded with wreaths arrives at Cheltenham Veterans Cemetery.

Cheltenham volunteers

Despite the rain, Cheltenham volunteers were in good spirits.


St. Charles High School Volunteers at Cheltenham

Josh Marks

MDVA Deputy Secretary Robert Finn and Mr. Josh Marks of Marine Corps Detachment #770, Francis Scott Key Squadron 11 at Pine Grove Cemetery.