17 July 2020 MDVA News and Announcements

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Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs

News and Announcements  -  July 17, 2020


MDVA Bids Fond Farewell to the Chairman of Maryland Veterans Commission


Maryland Flag Waiving

Fred Shinbur, a Vietnam Veteran who retired from the US Army with the rank of Chief Warrant Officer 5 (CW5), has been serving on the Maryland Veterans Commission since 2006 when then Governor Ehrlich appointed him to the AMVETS seat on the Maryland Veterans Commission.  Former Governor O'Malley appointed Fred as Chair of the Maryland Veterans Commission in 2008, and he has remained the Chair, after being re-appointed by Governor Hogan. After fourteen years of service to the Commission, Chairman Shinbur recently notified MDVA Secretary Owings of his intent to retire.

Chairman Shinbur has led the Maryland Veterans Commission with honor and distinction and he will be missed by MDVA staff, his fellow Commissioners and the Maryland Veterans for whom he advocated.  Among his many accomplishments, Fred also held a leadership position with Maryland Public Television's very successful event, LZ Maryland, presented Father's Day weekend in 2016 - one of the first efforts to finally recognize and Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans.

Chairman Shinbur stated, “It’s been a distinct privilege and blessing to serve as Chair of the Maryland Veterans Commission, serving our Nation’s greatest asset - our veterans”.

We wish Fred all the best in his retirement and have no doubt he will continue to help veterans, wherever he travels.

Fred Shinbur photo

Retiring Maryland Veterans Commission Chairman Fred Shinbur

Maryland Veterans Home Staff Attend White House Salute

Provider Magazine Article

It’s only around 45 minutes from the Charlotte Hall Veterans Home in Charlotte Hall, Md., to the White House, but it’s a world Russell Keogler, the facility’s administrator, and his COVID-19 Command Center team staff never imagined they would experience up close and personal.

Read More Here

MDVA Website

Junior ROTC Photo

On Saturday July 11 at the Charlotte Hall Library, members of the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR), Thomas Stone Chapter representing Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s counties presented the chapter Outstanding Cadet of the Year Award, and the bronze medal to Cadet Lieutenant Ryan Lohr Lowe of Great Mills High School.  He was also presented the State Outstanding Cadet of the Year award along with a check for $250.00. SAR member and Secretary of Veteran Affairs for Maryland, George W. Ownings III, also presented Cadet Lowe with a certificate signed by the Governor and a Maryland state flag that had flown over the capitol. 

In this photo from left to right are: JROTC Chairman Fred Scott, Registrar Mike Mazzeo, Mr. Lowe, Captain Randle - JROTC Instructor at Great Mills High School, Cadet Ryan Lohr Lowe, Maryland state JROTC Chair George Satterthwaite, Mrs. Lowe and MDVA Secretary George Owings.

Photo and text provided by: Fred Scott

State Partner News

Maryland Commerce Receives Federal Grant to Support Community Development Around Military Installations

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The Maryland Department of Commerce, in partnership with the Maryland Department of Planning (Planning) and several other state agencies, has been awarded a second federal grant to help guide compatible development of military installations and their surrounding communities. The goal of this effort is to ensure that military activities do not adversely impact the quality of life in their communities and that development in the communities does not encroach on installation activities.

Read More Here

Maryland Department of Health launches ‘MD Mind Health’

Texting initiative aims to reach young people, rural communities and general public

Maryland Flag logo

The Maryland Department of Health (MDH) today the launch of MD Mind Health, a new text-based mental health initiative to fight isolation and encourage mental wellness. The new program was developed by the MDH Behavioral Health Administration (BHA) in partnership with Maryland 211, the state’s crisis hotline.

“Staying connected with family, friends and other support systems is more challenging, and more important than ever,” said MDH Secretary Robert R. Neall. “In difficult times, it can make a difference to know you’re not alone.”

Maryland’s crisis hotline saw a significant increase in volume in recent months, especially in text messages. From March 2019 to March 2020, text messages increased by 842 percent; “chats” increased almost 84 percent; and calls increased almost 25 percent. Between February 2020 (1,619 calls) and March 2020 (2,345 calls), calls to Maryland 211 increased by 45 percent.

The MD Mind Health program is an extension of mental outreach provided by BHA during the pandemic. Texts sent through the program will not only provide supportive mental health messages, but also will remind recipients that immediate access to mental health services is available. If in distress, individuals can call 211, chat through the 211 website, or text 898-211. All actions will link the individual to a call specialist available 24/7.

More than half of Americans — 56 percent — surveyed by the Kaiser Family Foundation in late April, reported that the coronavirus outbreak has caused them to experience at least one negative effect on their mental health, such as problems with sleeping or eating, increased alcohol use, or worsening chronic conditions. Even before COVID-19, anxiety ranked as one of the most common mental health disorders globally.

Text 898-211 to sign up for MD Mind Health to receive encouragement, reminders and resources for staying connected. Messages include tips about self-compassion and self-care, concrete suggested actions, recommended podcasts and apps, inspirational quotes and information on how to find community resources and get help if needed.

“Physical distancing has left many feeling more alone and isolated, and these feelings can fuel sadness, depression, cravings for substances and relapse, negative coping skills, thoughts of suicide and other mental health problems,” said Dr. Aliya Jones, Deputy Secretary for BHA. “We must find healthy ways to respond. Even though we may not be seeing as much of each other, we don’t have to feel alone. This texting initiative is another way to combat that.”

Text messaging is a low-cost intervention that can reach individuals across the state, especially in rural areas with limited access to some services. Texting may be the best way to connect with teens and young adults, as surveys have indicated it is a preferred way to communicate.

MD Mind Health uses the Prevention Pays Platform which is based on Caring Contacts, an evidenced-based suicide prevention program. Caring Contacts supplements standard care by promoting human connectedness through caring messages.

MD Mind Health is the latest in a growing list of new and established resources BHA is providing and promoting to support behavioral health in the time of COVID-19. Resources developed for the public also include: a Recovery and Wellness Resource guide, a Deaf and Hard of Hearing Communication guide, PSAs on anxiety and depression, and an extensive list of webinars, support groups, and info guides for clinicians and the general public.

People in crisis can get immediate help by calling Maryland’s crisis hotline (211, press 1), the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK), or SAMHSA's national emergency number (1-800-273-8255). Maryland veterans can also enroll in Operation Roll Call (1-877-770-4801) — a program that offers regular check-in calls and a chance to talk to someone who can offer support.

Information and resources regarding COVID-19 are available at coronavirus.maryland.gov.

Federal Partner News

Federal News

Veterans contribute to COVID-19 research

VA - Protecting Veterans returning for in-person care

US Military Deploys to Texas & California in Support of COVID-19 Operations, Health.Mil article

VA features Melwood's Operation Tohidu

SecVA: REACH campaign strives to reduce Veterans suicide

Mental Health and Suicide Prevention During COVID-19

Department of Labor Grants to Support Homeless Veterans Services

Live Whole Health self-care episode #34 - Breathing in the Moment

Live Whole Health self-care episode #35 - Tai Chi

Live Whole Health self-care episode #36 -  Being Grateful for Your Body

Live Whole Health self-care episode #37 - Soft Belly Breathing

Live Whole Health self-care episode #38 - Time to Rest

VA Golden Age Games: Maryland's Chesapeake Classics Win Twelve Medals

Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Fellowship Application Period Open Until Aug 14th

Free Virtual Technology & Digital Training for Veterans and Spouses

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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

MCVET - The Maryland Center for Veterans Employment & Education has scheduled a fall fundraiser: We are pleased to announce that BI&A has rescheduled our 5th Annual Golf Tournament for September 24th, 2020 at The Timbers at Troy! We still have sponsorships and registrations available, so stop by our site and make sure you are registered to join us on the course! 


Dog Tag Inc. Fellowship Program now accepting applications for winter program


Remote Veterans Pro Bono Legal Clinic


Free Legal Clinic for Women Veterans


Women Veterans United Food Drive


Steven A. Cohen  Military Family Clinic at Easterseals Veteran Events


Veterans Moving ForwardUpcoming Drives for Dogs Golf Fundraiser on July 23rd

Voices of Vets, a group that often performs at Charlotte Hall Veterans Home, provided this Virtual 4th of July Concert for your enjoyment.


American Legion Post # 136 in Greenbelt:  4th of July Shout Out to Veterans

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

Southern Maryland Location

Eastern Shore Location

Prince Georges County

Community Calendar

July 18, 2020

Introduction to Hero Dogs

July 23, 2022

Top Secret & Poly Virtual Hiring Event

August 12, 2020

How to Start and Market a Business During COVID-19

August 27, 2020

Military Veteran Friendly Job Virtual Job Fair