22 May 2020 MDVA News and Announcements

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Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs

News and Announcements  -  May 22, 2020


Memorial Day will look different this year, but still a solemn observance

Gold Star Memorial

In person Memorial Day Ceremonies and Parades have been suspended this year, but there are many opportunities to read about, view messages and reflect on the importance of remembering those who sacrificed their lives in service to our country.

MDVA will be providing a virtual Memorial Day observance which includes messages from MDVA Secretary George Owings, COL Erich Spragg, the Garrison Commander of Ft. George G. Meade and other Commanders of tenant organizations on Ft. Meade.  The United States Army Field Band and Bugler Jari Villanueva also shared music for the remembrance that we hope you will view. 

On Memorial Day, Monday, May 25, 2020 please visit the MDVA YouTube Channel where the Memorial Day messages and music will be available at 11:00 am.  A reminder email with a link to the event will be sent to you on Monday, May 25th.  We hope you will join us for the presentation and if you are unable to sign on at 11:00 am, the video tribute will remain available for you to view at your convenience. 

MDVA Website

Also, a new Blog entry regarding Memorial Day, written by Dana Burl, Director of the MDVA Outreach and Advocacy program has been posted on the MDVA website. Read Blog Here

Message to Marylanders regarding Memorial Day and MDVA Cemetery Operations

Memorial Day is a very sacred day for our military connected community.  Therefore, all five state veterans cemeteries will be extending visiting hours on Monday, May 25, 2020.




The administrative building, shelter and restrooms will all be closed.  Please practice social distancing and wear proper face coverings.

Amended visiting hours due to the health emergency will resume at all five Maryland Veterans Cemeteries on Tuesday, May 26, 2020:

Tuesday - Friday: 1:00 PM to 4:45 PM

Saturday - Sunday: 8:00 AM to 4:45 PM

In this edition of the MDVA e-newsletter, we also have a message from COL Kenneth McCreedy, USA (Ret), a former Garrison Commander of Ft. George G. Meade.  COL McCreedy, a trained historian was scheduled to provide the Memorial Day message at the World War II Memorial in Annapolis.  Please scroll down to the Federal Partner News section to read COL McCreedy's moving message.

Both Flags at Half Staff

World War II Memorial, Annapolis  View Bugler and Listen to Taps Here

Jari Villanueva, retired Director of the MD National Guard Honor Guard sounds Taps on Little Round Top in the video above.

Mr. Villanueva is a retired bugler from the United States Air Force and continues to serve veterans by helping provide information about Taps and buglers through his Website www.TapsBugler.com

For updates on MDVA Operations Status, please check the MDVA website:

MDVA Website

MDVA Service & Benefits Program Fact Sheets

The MDVA Service program provides fact sheets on some of the most asked questions regarding benefits:

Disability Pension Information

Additional Benefits for Service Connected Veterans

Tinnitus and Hearing Loss

Death Pension Information

Diseases Associated with Exposure to Certain Herbicide Agents (Agent Orange)

Camp Lejeune Presumptive Diseases

Also, some advice from MDVA Director of Services and Benefits Program, Phil Munley:

Veterans who have a service connected disability rating in excess of 30% receive additional benefits if they have a spouse or dependents. VA will randomly, about every 5-8 years, re-confirm if veterans have the same spouse and dependents. In May 2020, they will be running a batch for random veterans and sending letters to those veterans selected.

If veterans do not respond, VA can automatically terminate the dollar amount the veterans were receiving for their spouse and dependents and create an over-payment back to the day the status was last verified.

So as you can see, responding if you receive a letter from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs is very critical for veterans to ensure over-payments are not unnecessarily created.  Sample VA Letter

MDVA Staff Spotlight

From time to time, we like to highlight a person on the MDVA staff, who works behind the scenes, but does so much to support Maryland Veterans.  Today we feature Ms. Debra Hynes, currently the Deputy Director of the MDVA Service & Benefits program, who joined MDVA after retiring from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.  Debra provided the following information:

I  worked for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for many years.  I hold veterans and their dependents in highest regard.  I realize and empathize with the sacrifices they and their family members have made.  I respect them for the service and dedication they have all provided so our country is free.

During the time I worked for the U. S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs, I served in multiple positions.  I feel my most valuable contribution was with veteran public contact. I was the supervisor in the Public Contact Division and the Guardianship Division.  This position afforded me the opportunity to work directly with the veteran population and most notably with the Prisoners of War, Women Veterans, Incompetent and Incarcerated Veterans, as well as veterans in nursing homes.   

I provided outreach to Military Installations, Medical Centers, as well as to multiple forums supporting our ex-POW population. I feel dissemination of veterans benefits information is paramount in assisting veterans and their families to understand and know how to apply for benefits that are administered by the U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs.  This included providing information of VA benefits that were administered by the VA Insurance Centers, VA Cemetery System, Educational Benefits, and Board of Veterans Appeals.

I served as a member of the Rating Board for many years as well for the DVA.  In this capacity, I became familiar with rating procedures, medical evidence and the Disability Evaluation process.  This opportunity certainly assisted in the understanding of the most complete and comprehensive knowledge of benefits.  This background permits me to provide a broad range of programs to all veterans and their dependents in regard to the disability process and how evaluations and service connection is assigned. 

I presently work for the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs.  In this capacity I am able to continue to serve the Maryland Veterans and assist in carrying out President Lincoln’s proclamation to care for those who have born the battle and their dependents. 

I am married to William Hynes, a disabled Vietnam veteran, and have a son, Bill Hynes, who dedicates his experiences to continuing education and to the teachings of the Church. 

State Partner News


Governor Hogan issues a Memorial Day Proclamation

Governor's Memorial Day Proclamation

Preservation Maryland Receives Two Battlefield Preservation Grants to Help Tell Maryland’s Military Story

On May 18, 2020, The American Battlefield Protection Program, a unit of the National Park Service, announced Preservation Maryland was the recipient of two competitive battlefield protection planning grants.

The grants support Preservation Maryland’s campaign aimed at preserving and interpreting some of the state’s most significant and threatened battlefield landscapes. In recent years, the organization has invested in projects at the South Mountain Battlefield (Frederick/Washington Counties), Fort Tonoloway (Washington County) and the Falling Waters Battlefield (Washington County).

Read More Here

Maryland Department of Commerce Creates

Back to Business Site

Commerce Logo

As the state gets back to business, our business owners are urged to continue to put people first. This means adhering to guidelines that ensure the safety of your workers and customers alike. Through our collective efforts, Maryland’s business community will play a critical role in protecting our citizens and preventing another surge of COVID-19 infections. 

Read More Here

Final Report: 2020 Session of the Maryland General Assembly 

The date for Governor Hogan to sign, veto or allow legislation to become law without his signature has passed.  Therefore, as a service to the veteran community, information on legislation of possible interest to veterans is provided in the link below.  The highlighted items in the linked document have become law:

2020 Legislative Information

For More Information on Maryland Legislation visit the:

Maryland General Assembly Website


Federal Partner News

Memorial Day Message

COL Kenneth McCreedy, USA (Ret), who is a former Garrison Commander of Ft. George G. Meade was scheduled to be the Keynote Speaker at the ceremony to be held at the World War II Memorial in Annapolis on Memorial Day.  As formal ceremonies are not being held at MDVA cemeteries and memorials this year, COL McCreedy shared this message:


Standing in Front of the Graves

This year, the annual commemoration of Memorial Day coincides with the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day (May 8).  We have seen once again the black and white images of milling throngs in Times Square, Picadilly Circus, and the Champs Elysee celebrating wildly and jubilantly.  We can only imagine the joy that filled every heart as Hitler’s Nazi nightmare was finally vanquished, albeit at a cost of millions of lives and vast stores of treasure.

At the World War II Memorial in Washington, the Freedom Wall stands overlooking the Reflecting Pool and the Lincoln Memorial.  Upon it are 4,048 brass stars, each representing one hundred dead service-members.  In front of the wall there is this inscription:  “Here we mark the price of freedom.”  In looking at these stars, we glimpse a little of the sacrifice that American soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, coast guardsmen, and merchant mariners made to enable us to live free today. 

As World War II recedes into history, as those who lived and fought in it leave us, many see its outcome as foreordained, the Axis Powers overwhelmed by the industrial might of the United States and the numerical superiority of the Red Army.  We must never forget in the fog of time just how close-fought and hard-won that victory was.  In the dark days that followed Pearl Harbor, in the ferocious Battle of the Atlantic that nearly severed the supply lines to Britain; in the jungles of Guadalcanal where Marines struggled to repulse banzai charges; in the deserts of North Africa when the green American Army was routed by Rommel’s Panzers at Kasserine Pass; on the hellish beaches of Anzio where the Allies were almost thrown back into the sea; on bloody Omaha where soldiers struggled to get off the beach; in the frozen forests of the Argonne and surrounded in Bastogne; and in the brutal, mind-numbing fighting on Iwo Jima and Okinowa, Americans died in their hundreds and their thousands, sacrificing themselves so that others might live, giving that last full measure of devotion to their nation.

In reflecting on Memorial Day and V-E Day, I find myself remembering the last scene in “Saving Private Ryan,” when a now elderly James Ryan stands in front of the grave of Captain John Miller among a sea of white crosses and Stars of David.  He kneels and says “Everyday I think of what you said to me at the bridge.  I tried to live life the best I could.  I hope it was enough.”  He pauses then continues:  “I hope that at least in your eyes that I earned all that you all have done for me.”  He rises and is joined by his wife.  With tears in his eyes, Ryan earnestly asks: “Tell me that I have lived a good life.  Tell me that I’m a good man.”  His wife starts to give quick assurance, and then, looking at Miller’s grave and understanding the magnitude of the question, she looks Ryan in the eye and tells him that he is a good man.  Thus assured, he steps back, comes to attention, and renders a salute to Captain Miller.

This Memorial Day, I think it is incumbent upon all of us literally or figuratively to face the graves of the men and women who died in service to our nation.  Each of us needs to ask whether the lives we are leading in the freedom they secured are worthy of all that they gave for us.  Like Ryan, we should be asking for a truthful answer:  Am I living a good life?  Am I a good person?  The standards of selfless service, devotion, and sacrifice are high.  We owe those who gave their all an affirmative answer.  We owe them all a nation that is worthy today of their sacrifice; we owe them a younger generation that has been taught to respect and appreciate and remember what they did, what they gave; and we owe them our eternal gratitude and respect. 

On Memorial Day, we as a nation corporately stand in front of those white crosses and Stars of David.  We come to attention and we render the salute that conveys our respect and profound appreciation for what they did and what they gave.  We can only hope it is enough.

VA National Cemeteries to commemorate Memorial Day

Baltimore National Cemetery

They will be open for public visitation

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs’ (VA) National Cemetery Administration (NCA) announced it will commemorate Memorial Day this year with solemn wreath laying ceremonies. 

Another offering is a new online memorial feature allowing the public to pay tribute to Veterans interred in VA national cemeteries across the country. 

“This year, by necessity, will be different from past Memorial Day observances,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “While the department can’t hold large public ceremonies, VA will still honor Veterans and service members with the solemn dignity and respect they have earned through their service and sacrifice.” 

Each VA national cemetery will conduct a brief wreath laying ceremony, accompanied by a moment of silence and the playing of Taps. In keeping with CDC guidelines to limit large gatherings, the ceremonies will not be open to the public. 

Read More Here

Memorial Day 2020 Live Stream from VA National Cemeteries

Photo courtesy of the Historic Baltimore National Cemetery Complex

Federal News

May 24, 2020 - PBS Memorial Day Concert

VA good news story about the miraculous recovery of Navy Veteran Jamal Thomas from COVID-19 that aired on ABC 2 News (WMAR-TV) in Baltimore on Monday, April 27, 2020, and Thursday, April 30, 2020:  Part I and Part II

United States VA Secretary Robert Wilke visits the Maryland VA Health Care System - Photos

VA Maryland Health Care System COVID-19 Update

VA Offers COVID Coach App

VA Home Loan Pre-Foreclosure Options

VA Live Whole Health Self-Care episode #17 - Mindful Breathing

VA Live Whole Health Self-Care episode #18 - Taking Time to Pause

VA Live Whole Health Self-Care episode #19 - Acupressure

VA Live Whole Health Self-Care episode #20 - Healthy Posture

VA Live Whole Health Self-Care episode #21 - Standing Twist

VA Live Whole Health Self-Care episode #22 - Stress

Internal Revenue Service: People First Video

Federal Agencies Launch Joint Mortgage and Housing Assistance Website

United States CENSUS - Connecting With Partners: Veterans of Foreign Wars

For an inside look at the growing roster of 2020 Census partners, we asked nonprofit veterans service organization the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) what motivated it to join us to help ensure all veterans are counted in the 2020 Census.

What motivated the organization to collaborate with us?

The results of the census help the federal government allocate billions of dollars in support of programs and services that directly impact our local communities.

For more than 120 years, our members have helped to support and advocate for their local communities, so teaming up with the Census Bureau simply made sense!

Read More

Continue reading the Q&A with VFW National Commander William “Doc” Schmitz to learn more about:

  • How the VFW is supporting a complete and accurate count of all veterans in the 2020 Census
  • How the VFW uses Census Bureau data 


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

Mrs. Janice Chance, President of the Maryland Gold Star Mothers remembers her son in this WJLS News Article


The Mid Shore Veterans Group have a new, updated website: View Here


Struggling with transitioning?  Check out Objective Zero


Soldiers to Sidelines Training to Become a Coach   Nightly Coaching Webinars and Events


Considering Starting Your Own Business?  Free Online Summer Course for Veterans


Rehab 2 Perform is a full-service physical therapy company that serves Veterans through Tricare, as well as a Civilian Health Care Provider through the Veterans Affairs Community Care Network. 

BGE, Delmarva Power, and Pepco have extended their moratorium on shut-offs and late fees through July 1, 2020. 

The Office of People's Counsel encourages all utility customers to continue to make payments on their account. If a utility customer is having trouble paying their utility bill there is information on our website about resources that are available. 

If any veterans or military families are facing any unemployment challenges, our Veteran Staffing Network at Easterseals is available to provide employment coaching, training and placement assistance.
Lastly, to help our military community stay safe and connected, please remember to join our FREE virtual events for May, including:
·       Virtual Mindfulness and Gentle Yoga: May 27 @ 5:00PM EST

Community Calendar

May 24, 2020

PBS Memorial Day Concert

Veterans Appreciation Drive By Celebration, Damascus

5th Annual Light a Candle, Veterans Yoga Project

May 25, 2020

MDVA Virtual Memorial Day Observance - visit MDVA website on Memorial Day on or after 11:00 am: Link

Memorial Day Field of Honor, Oxen Hill

May 26, 2020

Easter Seals Veteran Staffing Network Networking Virtually    Flier

May 28, 2020

Virtual Military-Friendly Career Fair

May 30, 2020

Veteran Pop-Up Food Pantry, New Windsor

June 3, 2020

The Financial Path Forward: A Virtual Town Hall for America's Veterans

June 9, 2020

Virtual Polygraph-Only Hiring Event