3 January 2020 MDVA News and Announcements

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Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs

News and Announcements  -  January 3, 2020


Reflecting on 2019 and Looking to the Future

20th Logo

2019 was an historic year for the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs.

Governor Hogan declared 2019 as the Year of the Veteran in Maryland and MDVA celebrated the 20th Anniversary, as a Department.  The origins of the Department however, date back to 1924. Read More Here

The Annual Report will be completed soon and we will share it with you in a future edition of the MDVA e-newsletter, but here are a few highlights:

  • The Service Program submitted 4,917 disability compensation and pension claims for adjudication to the USDVA.
  • Maryland Veterans received almost 34 million dollars in new/increased and one-time monthly cash benefits with support from this program.
  • Charlotte Hall Veterans Home continues to provide quality assisted living and skilled nursing services to our aging and disabled veterans, along with eligible spouses. Their most recent 2019 year to date census reached 88% capacity. 
  • This year the Maryland Veterans Trust Fund distributed over $126,000 in grants to Maryland Veterans and eligible dependents.
  • A leader in the nation, The Cemetery Program, has provided an average of 3,390 interments each year, over the last three years.
  • To ensure that Maryland Veterans and their families are aware of benefits and services, the MDVA Outreach and Advocacy Program attended over 110 events and meetings, speaking to over 2,500 veterans, families, and community members.
  • The MDVA e-newsletter increased its email distribution list to over 134,000 contacts. 

As we look forward to 2020, we hope to further expand our support of and assistance to Maryland Veterans and their families.  Please call on us if you need information or help.

Rose's retirment photo

Ms. Rose Bean retired at the end of 2019 after a long and distinguished career of state service.  Rose ended her state career serving as a MDVA Veterans Benefits Specialist in the Hagerstown office, although Rose has been called upon to help out in other MDVA offices over the years.  In this photo, MDVA Deputy Secretary Robert Finn presents Rose with a Proclamation from the Governor, honoring her for her dedication and service to Maryland Veterans.  We send our best wishes to Rose in her retirement.  She will be missed.

Mr. Jose Brooks

MDVA Secretary George Owings saw Mr. L. Jose Brooks at a local restaurant and noticed his cap.  After talking with him about his military experience in the Army 71st Assault Helicopter Company, Secretary Owings presented him with the Vietnam Veteran Lapel Pin.

Mid Shore veterans group

In the last edition of the MDVA e-newsletter, we included this photo and noted the very generous donations from the Mid-Shore Veterans Group.  There were more organizations and individuals who also deserve credit for overflowing wagons and carts of gifts for the Charlotte Hall residents. 

The American Legion Unit #70 Auxiliary, led by Ginger Ball brought electric razors, clothes and toiletries.  They are also donating a 50" TV for the Assisted Living dining room.

Greater Impact, led by Heather Blunt brought more than 150 lap blankets, as well as other gifts.

Thank you to all those who donated to make the holidays brighter for the veterans and spouses who reside at Charlotte Hall Veterans Home.

State Partner News

Military Bowl Parade

Governor Hogan participated in the Military Bowl Parade in Annapolis. Each year, the Military Bowl generates over $100,000 for the United Service Organizations and also benefits Patriot Point, the Military Bowl Foundation’s recreational retreat on Maryland’s Eastern Shore that serves ill and injured service members. Photo Credit: Executive Office of the Governor

Mark Your Calendar

Don't get stuck in the office all winter. Most business development events and training programs take place outside the office. We maintain a robust calendar of events on our website. It's updated regularly, so be sure to check back often. Here are just a few upcoming events:

01/07/2020 - Starting a Small Business
01/08/2020 - WOSB Certification Workshop for Government Contracting
01/09/2020 - Why Small Businesses Need Human Resources (HR)
01/16/2020 - 10,000 Small Businesses Program OPEN HOUSE
01/28/2020 - Prime Contracting Through the Small Business Reserve (SBR) Program
01/28/2020 - MBE Rights & Responsibilities

Check out our full range of small business events
online at goMDsmallbiz.maryland.gov.

Property Values Rise 8.9% According to SDAT's 2020 Reassessment

The overall statewide increase for “Group 2” properties was 8.9% over the past three years according to the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT). SDAT announced today its 2020 reassessment of 769,668 “Group 2” residential and commercial properties. In Maryland, there are more than 2 million property accounts which are split into three groups, each appraised once every three years. 

The overall statewide increase nearly matched 2018’s 9.1% increase. This represents an average increase in value of 7.3% for all residential properties and 13.5% for all commercial properties since the last Group 2 reassessment in 2017. 

The 2020 assessments for Group 2 properties were based on an evaluation of 73,106 sales that occurred within the group over the last three years. If the reassessment resulted in a property value being adjusted, any increase in value will be phased-in equally over the next three years, while any decrease in value will be fully implemented in the 2020 tax year. For the 2020 reassessment, 86.4% of Group 2 residential properties saw an increase in property value. 

“All 23 counties and Baltimore City experienced an increase in residential and commercial properties for the second consecutive year, which is a good indicator the market remains strong and growth is steady,” said SDAT Director Michael Higgs. “I want to thank all of the Department’s real property assessors throughout Maryland for the hard work and dedication they have displayed this year to ensure that Maryland’s properties continue to be assessed fairly and uniformly. As part of our Tax Credit Awareness Campaign, each reassessment notice includes information about the Homeowners’ and Homestead Tax Credits, which save Marylanders more than $260 million in taxes each year.” 

The Homeowners’ Tax Credit provides relief for eligible homeowners by setting a limit on the amount of property taxes that are owed based on their income. Residential property owners who complete a one-time application and meet certain eligibility requirements can also receive a Homestead Tax Credit, which limits their principal residence’s taxable assessment from increasing by more than a certain percentage each year regardless of their income level. Although statewide legislation caps the increase at no more than 10% per year, many local governments have capped property taxes at lower percentages. 

Property tax assessment notices were mailed to Group 2 property owners on Friday, December 27, 2019. A map of which properties fall into Groups 1, 2, and 3 and their respective years for reassessment can be viewed on SDAT’s website here. For additional statistics and information, please visit the Department’s Statistics & Reports webpage.

Home on the Fringe: White-tailed Deer Thrive in Suburbs

Reprinted from Maryland Department of Natural Resources e-newsletter:

Suburban deer sightings are so common that few of us pay much attention anymore. White-tailed deer are everywhere – along the roadways, throughout our parks, and in our very own backyards. 

Many people incorrectly presume that these animals belong in the deep woods, and the ones wandering into our neighborhoods are refugees displaced by residential, commercial, or agricultural development. In fact, development actually creates better habitat for deer. White-tailed deer are a fringe species, exploiting the benefits of forested land for cover and open areas for food, requiring a substantial portion of each to survive.

As it turns out, their natural habitat bears a striking resemblance to the one we’ve built for ourselves. When residential neighborhoods grow and multiply, they support much higher densities of deer than a natural setting would. We unwittingly provide a refuge in which a lack of natural predators, limited hunting, quality habitat, and a variety of abundant food resources combine to allow deer to reproduce at an equal or higher rate than natural environments.

Living in close proximity isn’t for everyone. While some can’t wait for another glimpse, others lament the financial costs to their property and would rather not host a herd of hungry deer

Whitetail are browsers, not grazers. Natural food sources include acorns, hickory nuts, berries, herbaceous plants, tree seedlings and other woody stems – even things like greenbrier and poison ivy! 

They’re also known to satisfy their appetite at the expense of cultivated crops like corn and soybeans. And many homeowners would note that nearly all garden vegetables and ornamental plantings are on the menu as well. 

Intentionally feeding neighborhood deer is strongly discouraged by wildlife professionals. Such food sources tend to attract and congregate the animals, not only increasing the chance of disease transmission between them, but also upping the danger posed to them by traffic on adjacent roadways. Even in severe winter conditions, providing food actually does the animals more harm than good, as it disrupts and overwhelms their stomach’s seasonally-tuned balance of bacteria and protozoans necessary for proper digestion. 

“Despite good intentions, the reality is that feeding whitetail adversely affects not only their wildness, but also their well-being,” says Urban Deer Biologist George Timko. “ Human response to presumed deer health is often misguided and not in line with the animal’s specific biology or behavior.”

In general, most rescue efforts are ill advised. More often than not, it’s better to let wild things be wild. Keep your distance, respect the potential dangers to yourself and the animal – and though it may seem cruel – leave things in the hands of mother nature. 

When in doubt – but before acting – reach out to a wildlife expert. Check out our website for a searchable list of local wildlife rescue and rehab organizations, or call our Wildlife and Heritage Service at 1-877-463-6497. 

Don’t be a fawn napper!

Each spring, countless fawns are removed from their natural environment for fear of parental abandonment – a strategy intentionally employed by the mothers to protect their young. In the first few weeks of a young deer’s life, it has no scent and limited mobility. During this time, the mothers will stash their fragile offspring, returning only occasionally throughout the day to nurse before wandering away again – and in doing so, diminishing the threat she herself brings from predatory attraction.

How many is too many?

One of the more far reaching impacts of overpopulation is on the understory of our forests. Hungry deer have voraciously thinned almost all of the underbrush in high-population areas, not only challenging their generational succession, but also altering the ecosystem. This has resulted in lost flora, impacting other creatures that depend on it.

There’s also human health to consider. Robust deer herds can better support large populations of blacklegged ticks, the parasite that transmits Lyme disease — the most commonly reported tickborne disease in the United States. 

Perhaps the greatest threat to us is that from motor-vehicle collisions. Across the nation, more than one million automobile accidents each year are deer-related, and several hundred of those result in human fatalities. Countless more result in severe injury and significant vehicle damage. In Maryland, there are an estimated 30,000 strikes a year.

The majority of such incidents occur in October and November, as breeding season make male and female deer more active and somewhat prone to irrational movements. Another, less-intense spike in activity can be observed in May and June, after does give birth to their young — requiring mother’s to cover more ground while foraging. 


If left unchecked, the number of deer in our state might very well become untenable. For decades, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources has managed stable populations through well-regulated hunting practices. 

Currently, the statewide deer population estimate is about 225,000, down from a one-time peak of about 300,000. Biologists credit the drop to expanded hunting seasons and bag limits. Some attempts were also made with birth control or sterilization, but to date those have proven largely ineffective.

In urban and suburban neighborhoods, hunting presents a challenge. There are examples of communities successfully reducing deer populations by conducting controlled hunts or contracting sharpshooters, but allowing such hunts requires close study, broad consensus, and special permitting. 

There are also several non-lethal options to help reduce damage by exclusion or behavior control. The installation of tall or electrified fencing can help keep deer from entering yards or gardens. Individual plant protection, such as wire cages, plastic netting or tree shelters, is also commonly used. Taste and odor-based repellents are also somewhat common, but must be frequently re-applied or managed, and in some instances deer have adapted to their use. 

Biologists with the Department of Natural Resources will continue to investigate both non-lethal and lethal deer control methods as they evolve, and make this information available to the public. Likewise, deer numbers will be carefully monitored and efforts will continue to manage populations at levels compatible with their human neighbors. 

Additional information about the species and control options for it can be obtained online at dnr.maryland.gov, by phone at 410-260-8540 or via email at CustomerService.DNR@Maryland.gov.


Stephen Badger is a public affairs officer with the department’s Office of Communications. Appears in Vol. 22, No. 4 of the Maryland Natural Resource magazine, fall 2019.


Federal Partner News

Enroll in VA Health Care

New Health Care photo

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


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Baltimore National Cemetery

Baltimore National Cemetery, December 2019      Photo credit: Baltimore National Cemetery

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

Save the Date: June 7, 2020 25th Anniversary MCVET 5K/10K Race or Walk, Registration now open

MCVET in the News, WMAR Baltimore 2 news story


Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) Winter Coat Drive for Homeless Veterans, Silver Spring

Hero Dogs Announces Upcoming Programming:

Title: Introduction to Hero Dogs

Date & Time: Saturday, January 11th, 3:00 - 5:00 pm

Location: Brookeville, MD


This presentation is for anyone who is interested in learning more about Hero Dogs, whether as a potential applicant, volunteer, donor, or other supporter.


Would you like to learn more about Hero Dogs? Are you interested in volunteering*? Are you a veteran or first responder who may be interested in applying to receive a service dog?

The first hour of the presentation will include:

  • Mission and background of Hero Dogs,
  • Overview of Hero Dogs programs,
  • Live demonstration of service dog skills, and
  • Outline of volunteer opportunities

Then we will break for a tour of the facility. Those interested in applying for a service dog, their family members and other advocates, and anyone interested in learning more about partnering with a service dog should plan to stay for the second half of the presentation which will include:

  • The Hero Dogs application process
  • Team training
  • Living with a service dog
  • Q & A

*All Hero Dogs volunteers and potential volunteers should attend this session at least once. This is also a great event for youth groups to attend to learn about service dogs.

Please note: directions to the facility will be e-mailed on the Friday before the event to those who have registered. 

Community Calendar

January 6, 2020

WOSB/EDWOSB Certification Workshop for Government Contracts, Baltimore

January 9, 2020

Why Small Business Needs Human Resource (HR), Baltimore

Ready, Set, Go! The Nuts and Bolts of Starting a Business, Bowie

January 10, 2020

Trademarks & Financing, Frederick

January 14, 2020

Smart Start Your Business Workshop, Baltimore

January 15, 2020

Military Spouse Virtual Career Expo

8(a) Government Certification Workshop, Annapolis

Fast Track Cash Strategies for Small Businesses, Frederick

Polygraph-Only Hiring Event & Networking Reception, Linthicum

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

January 28, 2020

Developing & Writing the Business Plan, Baltimore

Introduction to Exporting 101: From Your Door to the World, Baltimore

January 30, 2020

SFL-TAP Ft. Meade Employer Day Hiring Event, Ft. Meade

Human Resource for Small Business: The Ultimate Guide, Baltimore