24 April 2020 MDVA News and Announcements

View as a webpage.

Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs

News and Announcements  -  April 24, 2020


2020 is the Year of the Woman in Maryland

Commissioner Macri

Governor Larry Hogan has proclaimed 2020 to be the Year of the Woman in Maryland.


MDVA will be highlighting the dedicated women in Maryland who volunteer to serve on state commissions which support Maryland Veterans in this and future editions of the e-newsletter.

To continue this series, Commissioner Cynthia Macri who serves on the Maryland Veterans Commission is featured.  Cynthia provided the following information:


Dr. Macri grew up as an American expatriate in Egypt, Pakistan and Mexico before returning to the US for college.  Inspired by the US Embassy Marine Security Guard detachment in Islamabad, she was commissioned in 1979 and attended Temple University School of Medicine on a Navy Scholarship and graduated with an M.D. degree in 1983.  After completing training as a gynecologic oncologist, she served in a variety of academic and executive leadership roles at the National Naval Medical Center, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the Naval Medical Education and Training Command, and the Uniformed Services University.  She held the position of Special Assistant to the Chief of Naval Operations for Diversity from April 2009 until her retirement in June 2013.  On July 1, 2013 she was recalled to active duty as the Chief Strategist for the 21st Century Sailor Office under the Chief of Naval Personnel.

Dr. Macri devoted her entire military career to education at the pre-college, undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate levels.  She is a nationally recognized speaker on health, gender and educational disparities in college and career preparation, cultural intelligence, leveraging cultural differences, professional development, health literacy, race and economic prosperity, and technology in the context of cultural preservation. She is the author or co-author of over 20 scientific papers, 3 book chapters, and over 200 invited presentations. In addition, she has received numerous community service awards for her innovative youth outreach programs to inspire middle and high school students from educationally, economically, and experientially diverse backgrounds to pursue careers in science, medicine, and technology.   Dr. Macri is now the Senior VP and Chief Medical Officer for EagleForce Health, a big data analytics company in northern Virginia.

In addition, she serves as the District 8 Representative to the Maryland State Veterans Commission, a veteran member of the Montgomery County Veterans Commission, and as the Asian American Community representative on the Maryland Governor’s Commission on Suicide Prevention.  Dr. Macri also volunteers as a primary care physician in Montgomery and Prince Georges Counties, and is a competitive adult soccer player in Howard, Montgomery, Arlington, and Fairfax Counties in the Washington, DC area.

In the last edition of the MDVA e-newsletter it should have been noted that Commissioner Wanda Colon-Canales was an active duty spouse, and her work on the military bases described was as a civilian employee.

In Memorium: Gordon B. Browning, PhD

It is with sadness we report the passing of Dr. Gordon Browning who served on two of the MDVA Commissions, as well as being a very active advocate for Maryland veterans, including holding Post, District, State and National positions in the American Legion.  Dr. Browning at one time served as Chair of the Maryland Veterans Commission and later in his career, he joined the Maryland Veterans Home Commission as a Commissioner.

You may read more about Dr. Browning and his dedicated career and commitment to his family here is his Obituary.

Thank you for your service, Dr. Browning to MDVA and beyond. You will be missed.

Governor Larry Hogan and the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs are taking proactive steps to minimize the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in Maryland. For updates on MDVA Operations Status, please check the MDVA website:

MDVA Website

Katie's Sewing Room

The photo above shows the sewing/work room of Katie Sonntag, the Executive Assistant to Secretary George Owings. When Katie is not working at her MDVA job, she has been making face masks and she has completed more than 100 of them since mid-March.  Katie has given these masks to her family, her MDVA co-workers and has donated them to Charlotte Hall Veterans Home for the staff and residents there.  Katie, we really appreciate your kindness and thank you for supplying staff and Charlotte Hall residents with a gift we all appreciate.

MDVA collage
MDVA staff are committed to working for our veterans during this time.  However, we know that it's important to allow time for self care.  Secretary George Owings, Deputy Secretary Bob Finn, and Directors Dana Burl, Pete Pantzer, Sharon Murphy and Phil Munley wanted to share with our readers what they are doing to reduce stress and re-energize.  
We are cooking new recipes, taking walks, relaxing with pets and enjoying the mild temperatures.  We are practicing good hygiene and wearing our PPE.  The entire staff of the MDVA encourages our veterans, family members and community to practice self care, too.  
The CDC provides some ideas: eat healthy, exercise regularly, connect with others, take breaks from watching the news, play board games, or read a good book.  Learn more by visiting these websites:

CDC: Stress and Coping


US Department of Veterans Affairs: Resources for Managing Stress


What will you do this week to practice self care?  Share what you're doing here!

State Partner News

Census Maryland 2020 Newsletter

The 2020 Census Has NOT Been Suspended


The 2020 Census has been suspended or cancelled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.


Although some of the activities undertaken by the US Census Bureau have been adjusted or delayed, the self response to the 2020 Census continues. The Census can be completed online, by phone or by mail. Click here to take the Census now.

Take the Census Now 

Preservation Maryland

Read the history of Maryland's African American Soldiers at Appomattox

Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA)

MEMA launches COVID-19 RumorControl Page


Helpful COVID-19 Related Resources For Small Business Owners

Federal Partner News

National Cemetery Administration Update

VA Logo1

With the health and safety concerns brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Cemetery Administration has adjusted operations in ways we never expected, such as temporarily discontinuing committal services while continuing to provide interments.  

In these challenging times, we are launching a new web page, updated daily, which provides the names of those Veterans interred in our national cemeteries from the previous day.


I invite you to join me in visiting this page and taking a moment to honor these Veterans.

Thank you,

Randy Reeves 

Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs


Federal News

VA and DOD Identification Card Renewal and Issuance Guidance

DOD, VA Launch Joint Health Information Exchange, Health.mil article

National Veterans Legal Services Program Fact Sheet on CARES Act

Update from VA Maryland Health Care System

Eligible Veterans Can Get Free Portal

VA Telehealth 

VA Live Whole Health: Self-care episode #4 - Mindfulness of Breath

VA Live Whole Health: Self-care episode #5 - Music Therapy and Movement

VA Live Whole Health: Self-care episode # 6 - Relaxation

VA Live Whole Health: Self-care episode #7 - Cultivating Mindfulness

VA Live Whole Health Self-care episode #8 - Compassion

VA Live Whole Health Self-care episode #9 - Paced Breathing for Anxiety and Stress

GI Bill - Debt Management Center Update

Veterans on Burn Pit Registry May be at Greater Risk of COVID-19, Military.com article

Mobile App May Offer Hope  in Times of Distress, Health.mil article

A story from the Washington DC VA Medical Center - Recovering from COVID-19

VA Prescription Refills through Maryland VA Health Care System

Veterans Health Information Exchange

Get Free e-Books at Project Gutenberg

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

Resources and Frequently Asked Questions During the COVID-19 Pandemic - Office of People's Counsel


Women Veterans United Committee, Inc. is holding a virtual retreat in April: Schedule and More Information.


Prince George's County Office of Veterans Affairs Surviving Spouse Initiative


Queen Anne's County Animal Services Looking for Veteran Volunteers - Read More Here


DAV establishes COVID-19 Relief Fund


VFW's Unmet Needs Grant Program


Wounded Warrior Project COVID-19 Relief Fund


PTSD Symptom Management Virtual Program

Let ServingTogether's Peer Navigators Connect You to Our Vetted Employment Providers!
Here are just some of the Organizations in our Network that provide Employment Services for Veterans, Guard, Reserve, Transitioning Active Duty, Spouses, and Caregivers:
EasterSeals Veteran Staffing Network
EasterSeals Homeless Veteran Reintegration Program
Blue Star Families
Arlington County Department of Human Services
Calling on Vets
Cornerstone Montgomery
DogTag, Inc
Employ Prince George’s
IVMF Enrollment Services
Onward to Opportunity, National Capital Region
SANS Institute
Service Source
Shelters to Shutters
State of Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation Div. of Workforce Development and Adult Learning
Maryland Center for Veteran Employment and Training (MCVET)
USO Pathfinder
ServingTogether Peer Navigators are available Monday - Friday 9:00 am - 4:30 pm. We continue to work remotely and to utilize the UniteUs platform to conduct intakes and make curated referrals to providers in your communities.
Our Peer Navigators can be reached at 301-738-7176 or you can fill out a Get Assistance Form at www.servingtogetherproject.org

Operation Tohidu

On behalf of the Executive Vice President of MVS, Dave Blackledge (BG, US Army, Retired), I want to convey our hope for your continued good health, both mentally and physically during the current pandemic.

With the hope of life returning to somewhat normal over the next few months, we have published our Fall 2020 schedule. Highlights include our second Men's MST program (rescheduled from late March) and that we are partnering with the Road Home Program and the Veterans Leadership Project.


Community Calendar

May 19, 2020 JobZone Patuxent River Job Fair and May 28 Andrews Air Force Base Job Fair are now Virtual Job Fairs