11 September 2020 MDVA News and Announcements

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Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs

News and Announcements  -  September 11, 2020


Patriot Day 2020


September is Suicide Prevention Month

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The following article was written by Dana Burl, Director of the MDVA Outreach & Advocacy Program:

September is Suicide Prevention Month, and at the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA), we are using this month to amplify the importance of checking in on our friends, family, and community members. We know that everyone has a role to play in suicide prevention and that sometimes simply asking someone, “How are you, really?” and listening for their response can make all the difference in someone’s life.  It is up to us to provide hope and support to our friends, families, and community members.

On September 1, 2020, Governor Hogan proclaimed September as National Suicide Prevention Month in Maryland.  We have joined the PREVENTS (Presidents Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide) nationwide campaign to increase awareness of mental health issues and suicide prevention to reduce suicide for all Americans.  The proclamation was signed by Governor Larry Hogan, Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford, and Secretary of State John Wobensmith.

Together with PREVENTS, we pledge our support to preventing suicide for service members, veterans, and all Americans.  MDVA, along with our partners, commits to learning and educating our community about the risk factors, protective factors, and warning signs for suicide; supporting suicide prevention efforts; and increasing awareness of mental health challenges and suicide prevention practices.

In addition to the PREVENTS pledge, the Hogan-Rutherford Administration accepted an invitation earlier this year from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to participate in the Governor’s Challenge to Prevent Service Member, Veteran and their Families Suicide.  A team of more than 30 professionals representing federal, state, and local government as well as private sector and non-profit organizations has been meeting since June to develop an action plan designed to combat the serious issue of suicide in the military connected community. 

The Governor’s Challenge action plan will inform the comprehensive veteran suicide prevention plan due in the coming months to the Administration and Maryland General Assembly.  While the Governor’s Commission on Suicide Prevention is already doing great work to reduce the incidence of suicide across Maryland, this plan will focus exclusively on veterans.  Senate Bill 521, which was passed and signed in to law in 2019 by Governor Hogan requires the MD Department of Health, the MDVA, and federal/state partners to develop this veteran specific plan.

Finally, the MDVA and MD Department of Health are currently working with a number of state agencies to launch the “Have you or a Loved One Ever Served?” campaign.  This campaign will bring together state government and others to encourage inclusion of this question during the client intake process.  MDVA is looking forward to this exciting endeavor and to continuing its work to educate on the many suicide prevention resources available across Maryland.

For more information on the aforementioned national and state suicide prevention initiatives please visit the MDVA website at: National/State Suicide Prevention Initiatives

Remember, that help is always available at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, by calling 1-800-273-8255 (press 1 if you are a Service member or Veteran) or by chatting online at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/.

Thank you for your support of this vital effort. Together, we will prevent suicide.

MDVA Website


Register at: https://bit.ly/vetcensus 

Spotlight on the Maryland Veterans Commission

Commissioner Jim Shiffrin is the newest member appointed to the Maryland Veterans Commission and he represents the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), Maryland Council of Chapters on the Commission.  Commissioner Shiffrin is a very active volunteer and he provided the following information on two organizations he works with:

Operation Welcome Home Maryland

Honor Flight

If you are looking for volunteer opportunities, these are two excellent suggestions when operations resume.

Commissioner Elton Stokes, who represents the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) on the Maryland Veterans Commission shared the following information:

DAV Department of Maryland Provides Chapters with Additional Funds to Aid Veterans across Maryland

COVID-19 effectively curtailed DAV Chapter’s efforts to raise funds to provide financial support to veterans.  The need to “Protect and Serve” our veterans is as strong as ever. The DAV Department of Maryland has provided each chapter with additional funds to assist veterans undergoing verifiable financial hardship.

COVID-19 continues to adversely impact our Veterans. On top of the additional health risks caused by COVID-19, our veterans  - some wounded, ill and injured are facing increasingly harsh financial burdens. 

Veterans are encouraged to contact their local DAV chapter and discuss their needs.  You can find the chapter nearest you by visiting DAV’s Department of Maryland web site at https://www.dav.org/membership/local-chapters/

State Partner News



Governor Hogan Issues a Proclamation Declaring September National Suicide Prevention Month

Governor's Press Release

Suicide Prevention

Governor's Commission on Suicide Prevention

Maryland Higher Education Commission Veterans Affairs Staff Receives National Recognition

The Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) Secretary, Dr. James D. Fielder, announced members of the Veterans Affairs division recently received national attention for their ongoing commitment to our Veterans and their families in Maryland.

“This national recognition, spotlighting Associate Director Everette Jackson and Senior Analyst Olayta Rigsby, serves as a reminder that MHEC’s staff remains committed to their work supporting Maryland Veterans, despite the challenges of Covid-19,” Secretary Fielder said. “These two individuals are leading by example and I am proud that the National Association of State Approving Agencies recognized their dedication and service to our military community.”

 Everette Jackson, MHEC’s Veterans Affairs Associate Director, was nominated and voted in as the National Association of State Approving Agencies (NASAA) Judge Advocate.  The Judge Advocate's role serves as Chair of the Constitution and Bylaws Committee, implements the duties of the Constitution and Bylaws Committee listed in the Association Bylaws, and serves as the Association’s Parliamentarian. Jackson continues the tradition of MHEC’s Veterans Affairs Associate Director holding a consistent seat on NASAA's Executive Board.

Olayta Rigsby, MHEC’s Veterans Affairs Senior Analyst, was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation for his work on the NASAA Storytellers podcast. The podcast shares in depth interviews and personal stories with active duty members, Veterans, and family members. 

Jackson accepted his appointment and Rigsby accepted his certificate at this year's Virtual 2020 National Association of State Approving Agencies Summer Business & Training Meeting.

Mark Your Calendar

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.

09/15/2020 - Government Procurement Series #2 - Finding Opportunities to Fill the Pipeline
09/16/2020 - Develop Your Business Plan
09/22/2020 - State Procurement 101
09/23/2020 - Government Procurement Series #3: How to Qualify Opportunities for Your Pipeline
09/29/2020 - Government Procurement Series #4 - How to Develop a Proposal Outline

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

Federal Partner News


Suicide Prevention: How Can You Get Involved

September is Suicide Prevention Month: Start the Conversation with a Fellow Veteran

Suicide and PTSD

VA COVID Coach App

US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Assists Veterans

Upcoming VA Live Virtual Events

Sept. 11 - VA Suicide Prevention Month Series celebrating the Art, Music & Poetry
Sept. 16 - Women Veteran Series: Transitioning, Employment, Building a Business
Sept. 20 - National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic (NVSSC) at Home (Watch All Week!)
Sept. 22 - Woman Veteran Series: Appeals, Mental Health, Military Sexual Trauma, and Supporting Military Spouses
Sept. 23 - Heroes Connect: Colgate-Palmolive Veteran Hiring
Sept. 24 - Woman Veteran Series: Women’s Reproductive and Whole Health Resources
Sept. 24 - Toast To Our Troops with Code of Support
Sept. 30 - Women Veteran Series: Q&A with VA & Acting Deputy Secretary Pamela Powers

Small Business Administration Assistance

Virtual Mentoring and Training 

Offices around the country may be closed due to the Coronavirus pandemic, but SCORE, Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers, Veterans Business Outreach Centers and other resource partners are providing free business mentoring and training by phone, email, and video.

Find an SBA resource partner near you


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


District Heights is Planning a Veterans Park - see video


Introduction to Hero Dogs - Webinar Information


Veterans Moving Forward - Service and Emotional Support Dogs for Veterans


MCVET Veterans Day Virtual Run/Walk

Blue Star Families’ research is making changes in programs and policies. And we want YOU to be a part of that change through our 2020 Military Family Lifestyle Survey
TAKE THE SURVEY NOW: bluestarfam.us/Survey20email

 Saratoga WarHorse

Program Overview

The Saratoga WarHorse program takes place during 3-day classes, offered several times each

month. The average class size is 5 participants. The program is available to veterans and service

members from all branches of the military, regardless of when or for how long they served. The

focus of this program is on helping participants get past the physiological symptoms of their Post-

Traumatic Stress. Saratoga WarHorse doesn’t provide traditional “therapy,” but does offer an

undoubtedly therapeutic experience. There is NO cost for veterans to attend the Saratoga WarHorse program. We pay 100% of

travel, lodging, meal, and program expenses.

We have several more classes scheduled this calendar year here at the Baltimore County Agricultural Center, 1114 Shawan Rd. Cockeysville, MD 21030.

September – 17,18,19 / 24,25,26

October – 2,3,4 / 16,17,18 / 23,24,25

November – 6,7,8 / 12,13,14, 19,20,21

December – 3,4,5 / 10,11,12 / 18,19,20              

Those interested in attending a class may contact our Veteran Intake Coordinator, Janine Jagodzinski, janine@saratogawarhorse.org 518-252-0285 or our local Outreach Manger, Jason Marshall jason@saratogawarhorse.org 518-531-3219

Community Calendar

September 11, 2020 TODAY

Gold Star Memorial and Heroes Monument Dedication, Severna Park

September 12, 2020

Voices of Vets Free Concert - Facebook Live Event

September 16, 2020

Recruit Military Global Career Fair

September 17, 2020

Leidos Military Veteran and Spouse Chat - employment opportunities for Transitioning service members, veterans and military spouses

Communities Helping and Empowering Patriots (CHEP) Annual Golf Outing to benefit the Perry Point CHEP Housing Program for Homeless Veterans

JobZone - Virtual Job Fair: Cyber, IT, Software and Intel

September 19, 2020

Introduction to Hero Dogs

September 24, 2020

Cyber Security Virtual Hiring Event

September 25, 2020

Women Veterans United Committee, Inc. Workshop (9/25 through 9/27), Heir to the Crown

October 3, 2020

Veterans Symposium and Suit Drive