3 July 2020 MDVA News and Announcments

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Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs

News and Announcements  -  July 3, 2020


MDVA Cemetery Visitation Hours Return to Pre-Pandemic Schedule

Maryland Flag Waiving

Effective June 29, 2020 all five state veteran cemeteries operate as follows:

Administration buildings will be open to the public.  All visitors to the cemeteries and committal service guests will be required to adhere to social distancing guidelines, if not in the same household.  All visitors must wear a face covering and those entering administration buildings will be required to complete a health questionnaire.  If guests, clergy, or funeral home staff are ill, it is encouraged that they do not attend burial services.


On June 29, 2020, visiting hours will return to normal, Monday-Sunday, 8:00 AM to 4:45 PM


On June 29, 2020, cemeteries will return to normal burial schedules.  However, committal services in cemetery shelters will be at 50% capacity.  Shelters are of differing square footage, therefore capacity inside will vary.

Cheltenham Veterans Cemetery: maximum of 35 persons in the shelter
Crownsville Veterans Cemetery: maximum of 24 persons in the shelter
Eastern Shore Veterans Cemetery: maximum of 30 persons in the shelter
Garrison Forest Veterans Cemetery: maximum of 30 persons in the shelter
Rocky Gap Veterans Cemetery: maximum of 27 persons in the shelter

Funeral home directors have received written notification detailing operational changes.  The Department encourages family to work with their funeral home director in advance of a service to ensure all guests are aware of these changes as well.

The Department will revisit changes to operations as Governor Hogan’s Road to Recovery Plan advances.

For more information on the cemetery program visit: MDVA Cemetery and Memorial Program

To contact individual cemeteries, please email:
Chelthenham Veterans Cemetery: cheltenham.vc@maryland.gov
Crownsville Veterans Cemetery: crownsville.vc@maryland.gov
Eastern Shore Veterans Cemetery: easternshore.vc@maryland.gov
Garrison Forest Veterans Cemetery: garrisonforest.vc@maryland.gov
Rocky Gap Veterans Cemetery: rockygap.vc@maryland.gov

For More Information on MDVA Cemetery & Memorials Program

MDVA Cemetery Pinning Photo

On June 24th,  Keith Brown (left) was presented with his 5 year State Service Pin by Russell Ware, Director of the MDVA Cemetery and Memorials Program. Keith began his career with MDVA as a Grounds Caretaker, and was promoted to the position of Mechanical Equipment Operator. He was promoted once again and is now the Superintendent of the Memorials Program.  Thank you Keith, for your hard work and dedication and congratulations on your work anniversary.

MDVA Website

Tami photo

Tami Hardesty, pictured on the left is the MDVA Benefits Specialist at the newly relocated Hagerstown office. This new location was developed through a partnership between MDVA and the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA).  The office is located inside the MVA building, 18306 Colonel Henry K, Douglas Drive, Hagerstown, MD 21740.  Please call Tami for an appointment on 240-527-6894.  Appointments are scheduled on Tuesdays and Thursdays.


More Information on MDVA Service & Benefits Program 

MDVA Hagerstown Office

New MDVA office in Hagerstown

Bill Honoring Veterans Assigns Portion of MDOT MVA
Specialty Plate Fees to Maryland Veterans Trust Fund

GLEN BURNIE, MD – A new law taking effect July 1 benefits Maryland veterans every time certain special vehicle registration plates are purchased from the Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration (MDOT MVA). House Bill 646 was passed in the 2020 Maryland General Assembly session and allocates $10 from the sale of certain plates to Maryland Veterans Trust Fund, a non-emergency, temporary financial assistance program administered by the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs.

Eligible plates include those recognizing individually earned combat-related armed services medals; honorably discharged veterans; and recipients of U.S. Department of Defense Gold Star status, which is awarded to a surviving spouse, parent, or next of kin of a United States armed forces member who lost his or her life in combat.

“We’re proud to honor our veterans with not only specialty plates, but also a variety of options that provide them easier access to vital services,” said MDOT MVA Administrator Chrissy Nizer. “With the implementation of this bill, veterans and families who order these specialty plates can be assured that part of the fee will help other veterans in need.”

“This past fiscal year, the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs distributed more than $100,000 in Trust Fund grants to veterans in need of financial assistance,” said Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary George Owings. “We are thankful House Bill 646 was enacted this year. We look forward to expanding our commitment to those who have served, and working with the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration toward that goal.”

While the new law applies only to certain specialty plates and those eligible to receive them, anyone can donate to the Maryland Veterans Trust Fund. Details are available HERE.

MDOT MVA honors the men and women who serve our nation in several ways, including a “Veterans Status” designation on their driver’s license or identification card indicating they are eligible for state veteran benefits. MDOT MVA has issued more than 125,000 drivers licenses and IDs with a veteran designation. MDOT MVA also offers more than 100 specialty license plates honoring America’s military, as well as vehicle registration cards and license plate stickers for veterans who qualify as 100 percent disabled.

MDOT MVA also has customer service initiatives dedicated to helping veterans and their families access resources quickly and conveniently.

This month, MDOT MVA and the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs opened a veteran’s service center inside the Hagerstown branch office. It is the third veteran service center in an MDOT MVA branch. The first opened in 2019 at the Glen Burnie branch and the second opened in March inside the Salisbury branch office. All three veteran’s benefits centers are open during MDOT MVA business hours by appointment only. For information on these and other services, visit mva.maryland.gov/Pages/militaryandveterans.


For More Information on the Maryland Veterans Trust Fund

Valor Roofing photo

Each quarter of the year, Valor Construction selects one veteran who needs assistance and replaces the roof of their home.  This photo was taken recently at the home of a veteran who received a new replacement roof.  Those who came out to congratulate the veteran included: Deputy Chief Spriggs, Fire Fighter Drew, Battalion Chief Powel, Adam Kincaid (Valor Construction), MDVA Secretary George Owings, Fire Fighter Pratt, Lieutenant Makovisky, and Al Kincaid, Valor Construction President.

State Partner News

CRAB Boating Photo

Governor Hogan declared June "Adaptive Boating Month" in Maryland and Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford attended a ceremony and presented a Proclamation honoring CRAB (Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating)Video by Chesapeake Bay Boating Capital Gazette Article

From left to right in this photo are: CRAB Executive Director Paul Bollinger, MDVA Secretary George Owings, DNR Secretary Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford, President of the CRAB Board of Directors Brad LaTour and MDOD Secretary Carol Beatty

Maryland VSBE Program

Maryland Flag logo

Veteran business owners are invited and encouraged to participate in Maryland's Veteran-Owned Small Business Enterprise (VSBE) Program. It provides contracting opportunities on state-funded procurements for certified veteran-owned small businesses. The business must be at least 51% owned and controlled by one or more veterans, and must meet the size standards established by the US Small Business Administration. There is no cost to participate. Certification in the VSBE Program is a 3-step process which takes place through the state's vendor registration tool, eMaryland Marketplace Advantage. Use the link below to learn more about the program and the details on completing the certification process.

VSBE Program

Training for Small Business Owners

In this new environment of social distancing, everyone is adapting. Today's seminars are webinars, Zoom meetings, Facebook Live events, Google Meets, and more. If you have a smart phone or a computer, you have what you need to tap into these valuable training and information sessions. Capacity can fill quickly, so sign up early when required to do so.

07/07/2020 - MBE Application Assistance Workshop
07/09/2020 - Productize - Steps for Turning Your Service Into a Product
07/14/2020 - Introduction to Entrepreneurship
07/16/2020 - Connect with Customers and Manage Your Business Remotely
07/21/2020 - Prepare to Persevere - The Future of Technology & Business
07/21/2020 - Women's Leadership Conference

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

Federal Partner News

VA Tele-Town Hall

VA Seeking women who served in the military

Women Service Members

We invite you to participate in a study focusing on your health behaviors and life experiences as a woman Veteran.

The goal of the Health for Every Veteran Study is to better understand the experiences of Veterans from all backgrounds and promote their health and well-being, including women who served. We are especially interested in hearing the diverse voices within our communities. Participants will be helping advance Veteran research, without leaving their homes!The study is being conducted by researchers at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System. It consists of completing a confidential, web-based questionnaire every 9 months for approximately 2 years (for a total of 4 questionnaires). All research activities are completed online, with no in-person visits required. For more information, please go to https://healthforeveryvet-women.questionpro.com

Federal News

Fourth of July Observance - A Capitol Fourth, PBS

Celebrate the Fourth of July with the National Archives

National Center for PTSD

Invisible Wounds: Understanding PTSD, Health.mil article

DOD Trains Staff to Collect Convalescent Plasma Donations, Health.mil article

COVID-19 Plasma Sought - Walter Reed National Military Medical Center,  fedweek.com

US Department of Labor: Apprenticeship Pilot for Transitioning Service Members

Free Educational Resources for Military and Veteran Families

Live Whole Health self-care episode #32: Scheduling Pleasant Activities

Live Whole Health self-care episode #33: The Guest House

Phase 2 - Moving Forward Plan, VA Maryland Health Care System

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.

Vietnam Veteran Ceremony

Mr. David Catania, a Vietnam Marine Veteran was honored at Yingling-Ridgely VFW Post 7472 recently. Thank you to Post Commander Bill Milner and Jr. Vice Bill Braid for use of the Hall, Department of Maryland Veterans of Foreign Wars Commander Thomas Williams, VFW Post 467 Jr. Vice Mike Lexa, VFW District 7 Commander Landon Becker, Retired Executive Director Of National American Legislative Division, Louis Celli , 7472 member Shelby Rogers, Joe Dunnigan, Kay Emmanuel, Mike Sherman, Al Hernandez, PC Keith Clevenger FSK Post 11 and Don Zack for attending. Photo and text provided by Josh Marks.

Community News

Baltimore Station which serves homeless veterans is holding a fundraising raffle



Project Opportunity - Free Late Summer/Fall Entrepreneur Training for Veterans at two locations:

Southern Maryland Location

Eastern Shore Location

Operation Tohidu

Operation Tohidu is excited to announce our Fall 2020 schedule.  The Melwood Veterans Services team has reviewed our program and instituted changes as required by common sense and the state of Maryland regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.    Besides cleaning equipment frequently and implementing social distancing, we will have all attendees drive to the retreat location.  This in effect, is reducing our service area to within a reasonable driving distance from our location near LaPlata, MD.  Applications from outside of this region will be deferred to Spring 2021 or possibly beyond.  Below you’ll find our schedule for Fall 2020. Thank you for your continued support. 

Operation Tohidu® is a free, 5-day retreat program provided by Melwood Veterans Services for veterans or service members that have been diagnosed with or are self-identifying post-traumatic stress, mild traumatic brain injury, anxiety, depression, moral injury or military sexual trauma.  This program is open to veterans of all eras and most discharge statuses.   For an overview of our program, please see this video from our YouTube channel.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQgL4VZwuJY&t=1s.

 “Tohidu” is a Cherokee word meaning peace of mind, body, and spirit and Operation Tohidu® retreats continue to promote “Peace with the past through power in the present” for hundreds of veterans each year.  For more information or to apply to attend please visit www.operationtohidu.org .   We are also on Facebook: www.facebook.com/melwoodveterans

September 14 – 18, 2020

Women’s Session (MST Focused)

September 28 – October 2, 2020

Women’s Session

October 12 – 16, 2020

Women’s Session (MST Focused Retreat in partnership with The Veteran Leadership Project)

November 9 – 13, 2020

Men’s Session

November 30 – December 4, 2020

Couples Session

December 14 – 18, 2020


Community Calendar

July 7, 2020

Veteran Staffing Network Tuesday Talks: How to Speak with Confidence

July 8, 2020

Mortgage Help During COVID-19,   Flier

Online Training - Understanding the Needs of Veterans with Dementia

July 14, 2020

Maryland Department of Labor Virtual Job Club

July 15, 2020

Rental Help During COVID-19,   Flier

July 18, 2020

Introduction to Hero Dogs

July 23, 2022

Top Secret & Poly Virtual Hiring Event