1 January 2021 MDVA News and Announcements

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Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs

News and Announcements  -  January 1, 2021




Photo credit: Unsplash/Jude Beck

MDVA Outreach and Advocacy Program

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Despite this years’ COVID-19 related challenges, the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA) Outreach and Advocacy Program moved its mission forward.  Historically, much of the education and outreach to veterans and community providers has been in person.  So in March, upon transitioning to full time telework status, we quickly learned to navigate Google Meet, Zoom, WebEx, and GoToMeeting in order to stay connected to the communities we serve.   Since June, we’ve attended 140 meetings and virtual events, topping the entire number of events in FY20 by 30 events.  Working remotely has not slowed us down!

Throughout the year, we’ve participated in many meetings and provided briefings spanning all corners of the state.  One particular event of considerable significance was held in honor of Veterans Day.  The veterans’ symposium, organized by Maryland Delegate Mike Rogers (District 31), along with partners like the Maryland Legislative Black Caucus, Veterans Caucus and Women’s Caucus, Anne Arundel County Veterans Affairs Commission and MDVA, had more than 1,000 attendees. The virtual symposium was streamed to Facebook Live and YouTube and was televised on two local television channels.  

The success of the symposium speaks to the value in collective impact, a process which brings people together, in an organized fashion, to bring about social change.  As described by the Collective Impact Forum, collective impact “starts with a common agenda, establishes shared measurement, fosters mutually reinforcing activities, ensures continuous communication, and has a strong backbone.”  The philosophy of collective impact requires community participation, cross-sector partners, leaders with unique leadership skills, and builds a culture that fosters relationships. 

Just this week I had a call with a Maryland Congressional Delegation staff member.  We concluded our call with a discussion on the power of relationship building and how good relationships foster great change.  As we close out 2020, I could not believe more in the power of relationships.  Without the opportunity to meet face to face, as professionals across the state, we’ve relied on these relationships and creative means for connecting in order to serve our veterans. 

In January, when the first joint county veteran commissions summit was held, there was great hope for what 2020 might bring for the ad hoc group developed upon the conclusion of that day.  Despite limitations to meeting face to face, this year brought us together for two virtual meetings; county veteran commissions were trained on homeless services, intimate partner violence awareness, veteran service organization best practices, and the Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University’s Measuring Communities online data portal.  As the Director of Outreach for the MDVA I am hopeful for 2021.  My Deputy Director and I will continue in our efforts to effect change, and to connecting with our veterans and those who serve them.  We are thankful to all of our partners and the common agenda we all share: improving the lives of our veteran community and their families.  Thank you and best wishes for a healthy and happy new year.

Dana Burl, Director, Outreach & Advocacy

MDVA Website

MDVA Service & Benefits Office in Montgomery County Moves to a New Location

Miguel Sapp photo

The MDVA office in Montgomery County has moved.  The new location is inside the Motor Vehicle Administration Service Center, 15 Metropolitan Grove Road, Gaithersburg, MD, 20878.  The phone numbers are: 301-987-8412 and 301-987-8413.

Miguel Sapp, Veterans Benefits Specialist II is shown in the photo above at the new MDVA office in Gaithersburg. If you have questions about your veteran's benefits or want to file a claim for compensation or pension, please call one of the MDVA Benefits Specialists. 

Note: in-person appointments are not being scheduled at this time.  The link below, provides information on office locations and phone numbers to the MDVA Service and Benefits Program. The information will be updated when in-person appointments resume.

MDVA Service and Benefits Program


On Saturday, December 19, members of ABATE of Maryland, Inc. dropped off donations for the residents of Charlotte Hall Veterans Home.  Riders represented the Charles County Chapter, Anne Arundel Chapter, Calvert Chapter, American Legion Riders Post 82, KEEPERS CLUB and Tribes Club.  The donations are too numerous to list, but included clothing, gift cards, a large screen smart TV, electric razors, games, jigsaw puzzles and many other items for the comfort and enjoyment of the Charlotte Hall residents.  Thank you to the ABATE members for their very generous donations.

crusin southern maryland donation photo

Cruisin Southern Maryland provided lunch in December to the residents and staff at Charlotte Hall Veterans Home. Crusin Southern Maryland is a year round supporter of Charlotte Hall and in the photo above, three members of the Charlotte Hall staff are showing their appreciation.

Lunches were purchased from Mission BBQ, Thompson's Seafood and Subway to support local restaurants.  Thank you to Crusin Southern Maryland!

In Memorium: Former Maryland Veterans Commissioner Joseph J. Zarachowicz, who represented the Catholic War Veterans (CWV), passed away on December 18, 2020.    Commissioner Zarachowicz also served as the former Commander of the CWV St. Casimir Post 1764 in Baltimore, as the former State Adjutant of the CWV and as a former Commander of the Maryland Joint Veterans Committee. Obituary

Secretary George Owings sends his appreciation to the MDVA staff once again for their generous donations to the Maryland Charity Campaign, supporting Maryland charities.  The final, end of year amount raised exceeded 148% of the goal set for the Department. 

State Partner News

Lt. Governor Rutherford

Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford participates in a Wreaths Across America event honoring veterans in Carroll County.

Photo Credit: Executive Office of the Governor

Maryland Environmental Trust Offers Land Steward Training Classes

DNR Photo

Volunteer Opportunity to Protect Natural Areas and Landscapes

Maryland Environmental Trust (MET), a unit of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, is looking for volunteers who are passionate about land conservation to work in the field as Volunteer Land Stewards. Two virtual training classes are being offered in January and February. 

As one of the nation’s oldest and most successful land trusts, MET has protected more than 135,000 acres with more than 1,110 conservation easements. Each conservation easement is protected forever and requires regular visits to monitor for compliance. MET relies on volunteers to serve as its eyes and ears on many of the protected properties throughout Maryland.

MET Volunteer Land Stewards visit conservation easements, talk with landowners, make observations, notes, and take photographs of the features of the easement. These visits help to build positive relations, promote good stewardship, and protect the conservation values of the land. 

Volunteers attend a two-hour training session covering what is a conservation easement and our standard practices for monitoring and best environmental practices. The training includes practical exercises related to making a monitoring visit. 

Due to COVID-19 precautions, training this year is virtual. Classes are being held:

     Jan. 16, 2021 — 10 a.m.  – noon

     Feb. 17, 2021 — 4  p.m. – 6 p.m.

Registration is available via online form. Interested volunteers should email met.info@maryland.gov for more information.

Federal Partner News

Federal News

The 2020 Biennial Report of the VA  Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans (ACMV) is available on the Center for Minority Veterans website.


VA Maryland Health Care System Announces a new Director.  Read Press Release Here


VA COVID Coach Mobile App

VA: Top Veteran Resources of 2020

Live Whole Health #50: Breathing for Stress Relief

Live Whole Health #51: The Guest House

Live Whole Health #52: Intention Setting

Live Whole Health #53: Head, Neck and Face Massage

Live Whole Health: Yin Meditation

Live Whole Health Archives

Recent Ft. George G. Meade Podcasts

Meade Week Year in Review

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.

Colonel Rothstein

Colonel Ed Rothstein, USA (Retired), participates at a Wreaths Across America event in Carroll County.  Colonel Rothstein is the former Garrison Commander of Ft. George G. Meade, and continues his public service as a Carroll County Commissioner.  In January, he will become the President of the County Commission. The Maryland State Police Honor Guard also participated in the ceremony.

Community News

NAMI of Howard County is offering a new Veteran Peer-Led Support Group


Steven A. Cohen Clinic at Easterseals

Our services going into 2021: 

  • Evidence-Based Mental Health services offered to the entire military and veteran family, regardless of discharge or time in service. (Individual, Couples, Child/Adolescent, and Family) 
  • Active Duty, Guard, and Reserve members are eligible for services. 
  • Psychiatry services available in conjunction with evidenced-based psychotherapy. 
  • Welcoming environment to all with culturally competent staff.  
  • Expanded services! Video Telehealth care to Maryland, DC, Virginia, and now West Virginia. 
  • Wellness Programs  These programs are available to the military and veteran community NATIONWIDE!  
    • Virtual Art with CREATE Art Center  
      • 2nd Saturdays Monthly  
    • Virtual Comedy Writing Group with Community Building Art Works 
      • 2nd Tuesdays Monthly at noon 
    • Virtual Creative Writing Group with Community Building Art Works 
      • 4th Tuesdays Monthly at noon 
    • Virtual Workshops with Warrior Canine Connection 
      • Reoccurring Quarterly – Next one Jan 18th 
    • Virtual Theater Workshops with Chesapeake Shakespeare Company 
      • Reoccurring Quarterly! – Youth Class Beginning Jan 19th  
    • Other workshops include Yoga, Nutrition, Toastmasters, Legal, Finance, and more! 
    • Link to our Events page for more details on our Wellness Programs https://www.easterseals.com/DCMDVA/our-programs/events-cohen-clinic.html  
  • Therapy Workshops 
    • Problem Solving Workshop Beginning Jan 9th 
    • Stress Resiliency Workshop coming in February 2021 
    • Sleep Enhancement Workshop coming in April 2021 
  • For enrollment information in our therapy workshops please contact the clinic at (240) 847-7500. 

News from Women Veterans United, Inc.

Melwood Tohidu Retreat 

Women Veterans United Committee, Inc. (WVUCI)  CEO and Board of Directors completed their 7-week Virtual Operation Tohidu Retreat on Tuesday, December 22, 2020, with Travis Hannon and Brooksi Bottari leading the sessions.  The group consisted of Dr. JoAnn Fisher CEO, Tiffany Daniel, Chair, Board of Directors, & Director of Health and Wellness; Brenda Jamison, Director of Communication & Information, Phyllis Fisher, Director of the South, Starlene Hamilton, Director of the West; and Georgia Eaves, newly appointed Director.  Each participant received quality supplies with intense support and interaction to complete their assignments.  These sessions were educational, included social interactions, and spiritual reinforcement throughout the retreat weeks, which helped the participants manage their own healing naturally. Operation:Tohidu

COVID Testing for Homebound Veterans 

Women Veterans United Committee, Inc. (WVUCI) and the Maryland Department of Health's COVID-19 Testing Task Force have formed a small but dedicated team that is addressing COVID-19 Testing for homebound Veterans in the State of Maryland.  Our next meeting is Wednesday, January 6th, 2021 at 12 Noon.  Call Dr. JoAnn Fisher, 240-305-5516, if you would like to be a part of the Team.  We must ALL work together to address this very serious issue.  

Community Calendar

January 5, 2020

Scrap and Reuse Art Workshop, with Community Forklift, Uniting Us and Maryland's Commitment to Veterans

January 15, 2020

Easterseals: Virtual Navigating Job Search Platforms

January 19, 2020

Scrap Creative Reuse, with SCRAP B-More and Maryland's Commitment to Veterans

January 23, 2021

Introduction to Hero Dogs

January 29, 2020

Easterseals: Virtual Tips & Techniques for Job Application Process


Message for New Subscribers:

Is this your first edition of the MDVA newsletter?  If so, welcome!  You are receiving this newsletter because you signed up to receive it from our website or you gave permission to an MDVA program, the MD Motor Vehicle Administration or MD Department of Labor to receive information on VA benefits and resources.  We at MDVA respect your privacy and DO NOT share email address.  We hope you enjoy receiving our bi-weekly newsletter and find it both educational and engaging.  If you have questions about our Department, our Programs, or your VA benefits, please visit veterans.maryland.gov or call 410-260-3838.