17 December 2021 MDVA News and Announcements

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Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs

News and Announcements  -  December 17, 2021


MDVA Outreach & Advocacy Program

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2021 has been a year of expansion and change for the MDVA Outreach & Advocacy Program.  While we continued to provide briefings and attended events virtually, we also resumed attending events in person and were especially busy during the month of November with events related to Veterans Day observances.

A new staff member, Roslyn Jones was added to the team in August, as the Women Veterans/Inclusion Program Manager.  Roslyn has been building the program and will be scheduling listening sessions in 2022.

The MDVA Annual Report is being drafted by Outreach & Advocacy Director, Dana Burl and we will be able to share it soon.  The graphic below of outreach activities is a preview of one of new features Dana has designed for the 2021 Annual Report.

The MDVA newsletter distribution list has reached a new subscription record of over 180,000 subscribers, but MDVA Secretary Owings won't rest until we have connected with every veteran in Maryland.  If this email was forwarded to you, please consider visiting the MDVA website and subscribing in the "Stay Connected" box.

MDVA Website


Outreach & Advocacy accomplishments for 2021:

Outreach statistics

Mrs. Cheswick photo

MDVA Secretary George Owings presents a Governor's Citation to veteran, Mrs. Anita D. Cheswick on the occasion of her 100th birthday.  Mrs. Cheswick's family held a special celebration to honor a very special woman who served in the Women's Army Corps during World War II.  Mrs. Cheswick's family provided the following information:

Anita D. Cheswick (nee Beran) was born in Baltimore, Maryland on December 6, 1921. She enlisted in the Army (WAC) on August 23, 1943. She began her service in Fort Knox, Kentucky. While serving during WWII she earned several decorations and citations including a Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, WAC Service Ribbon and a World War II Victory Medal. While serving our country she achieved the rank of Staff Sergeant. Mrs. Cheswick (nee Beran) was honorably discharged on January 24, 1946.

On October 30, 1949 she married Henry W. Cheswick, also a World War II veteran. She raised three children, Michael, Colleen and Christopher. Her faith was a very important part of her life and continues to be an important part of her life. Throughout her life she always recognized the importance of serving others. She was instrumental in arranging reunions with her fellow WAC service members.

This year her family gathered together to celebrate the milestone of her 100th birthday and to recognize her service to our country. The gathering included her three children, her daughter in law, her grandchildren, her great grandchildren, two nieces, and a great nephew and his fiancé. Her love of family and her country are truly the cornerstones of her life, a life well lived.

Happy Birthday SSG Cheswick!  We wish you many more happy celebrations ahead.

Stacey Crawford photo

Stacey Crawford, MDVA Administrative Specialist III, just completed her training with the Bowie Citizens' Police Academy.  Stacey, we are very proud of you and congratulate you on this achievement.

Charlotte Hall collage photo

The Maryland Veterans Home Commission meeting was held last week and a special announcement was made.  The E-Wing Multi-Purpose room has now been renamed to honor Sharon Murphy, former Director of Charlotte Hall Veterans Home. Sharon was one of the original staff hired even before the home opened for residents, and she retired earlier this year after 37 years of service to Maryland Veterans.  Congratulations to Sharon on this well deserved honor.

Charlotte Hall  enetrtainment

The Hawaii State Ukulele Hui performed for the residents of Charlotte Hall Veterans Home. This was the first time the group visited Charlotte Hall and residents were singing, laughing and dancing during the performance.  Sincere appreciation goes out to the members of the Hawaii State Ukulele Hui for their visit.

In Memorium: Former Maryland Senator Bernie Fowler

It is with sadness that Secretary Owings announces the passing of Senator Bernard Fowler.  Senator "Bernie" Fowler was a WWII Navy Veteran, and he also served as a Calvert County Commissioner during his long career in public service.  He continued his public service as a Commissioner on the Maryland Veterans Home Commission.  His wise counsel will be missed by MDVA and his fellow Commissioners.  Secretary Owings and the entire MDVA staff send our heartfelt condolences to Senator Fowler's family, friends and colleagues.


Visit to Wellspring of Life Farm

Belinda Finn and MDVA Secretary Robert Finn visit Wellspring of Life Farm, which provides equine therapy to veterans.

State Partner News

Vaccination Booster Poster

Maryland Department of Labor Encourages Veterans to Use the Virtual Veterans Kiosk: 

Maryland’s Veteran Virtual Kiosk is a NEW outreach effort provided under the Jobs for Veterans State Grant (JVSG) program. It’s available to any resident veteran, eligible family member, or caregiver to get answers to questions and help eliminate the issues which keep you from obtaining the job or career you deserve. Regardless of where you live, simply log-in or call and our highly trained veterans will be ready to listen, relate, and work with you to remove any barriers to employment. Need access to quality jobs? Need skill training? Need resources for you and your family? We can help. All you have to do is take that next step and contact us today.


News from the Maryland Department of Housing & Community Development

The Homeowner Assistance Fund can provide mortgage relief to homeowners who experienced financial hardship after January 21, 2020.  Applications will be accepted on/after December 20, 2021.  

“The Homeowner Assistance Fund was established by the American Rescue Plan Act enacted on March 11, 2021, to help homeowners experiencing financial hardship after January 21, 2020. The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development will receive $248 million through this program over three years to assist homeowners struggling with their mortgage payments or other housing costs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Maryland Homeowner Assistance Fund will leverage and be supplementary to the loss mitigation tools that will be deployed by mortgage servicers. The program will create a long-term sustainable and affordable mortgage as opposed to short-term assistance without a clear outcome.”


  • Eligible financial hardship after January 21, 2020 (U.S. Treasury​ defines a financial hardship as “A material reduction in income or material increase in living expenses associated with the coronavirus pandemic that has created or increased a risk of mortgage delinquency, mortgage default, foreclosure, or displacement for a homeowner.”)
  • Must be a Maryland homeowner
  • Homeowners residing in their primary residence
  • Evidence of the deed of trust
  • Be delinquent and/or in forbearance for more than 3 months.

Sign up to be contacted when the program is officially open: https://dhcd.maryland.gov/Residents/Pages/HomeownerAssistanceFund/ExpressionofInterest.aspx 

For more information, visit https://dhcd.maryland.gov/Residents/Pages/HomeownerAssistanceFund.aspx

First Day Hikes 2022



Kick Off the New Year Outdoors with Maryland State Parks

Maryland State Parks will be offering First Weekend hike opportunities across the state from December 31, 2021- January 2, 2022. First Day Hikes are part of a nationwide initiative led by America’s State Parks that encourages all 50 states to offer outdoor hiking opportunities on the first day of the new year! Join us in Maryland on January 1st or throughout the first weekend of the new year for a hike at a state park near you. 

For 2022, there are two types of hikes available:

  • Ranger-led hikes: These hikes will be led by a Park Ranger, have specific start times and many require pre-registration.  
  • Self-guided hikes: These hikes will be available throughout the weekend, on well-marked trails. Park staff and volunteers may be available to get you started but will not be joining you on the hike itself.

First Day Hike “I Hiked” Stickers will be available at select locations while supplies last. 

Read More Here


Give the Gift of Trees

The department offers holiday shoppers the opportunity to buy one gift for a loved one, for future generations, and for the environment.

The Gift of Trees program allows Marylanders to purchase native trees — either a single tree or a grove of 10 trees — for planting in honor of a celebration, commemoration, or observation. Maryland Forest Service staff help choose the appropriate location and species to best assure the tree flourishes well into the future.

Maryland Durable Medical Equipment Re-Use

'Tis the season of giving! Give the gift of mobility to someone in need. Please consider making a donation to the Maryland Durable Medical Equipment Re-Use program. Donations needed include:

  • Wheelchairs/Power Wheelchairs
  • Rollators/Walkers
  • Scooters/Power Scooters
  • Bathroom Aides

Please visit our website for a collection site nearest you. If you or a loved one is in need of durable medical equipment (DME), we are providing DME to Marylanders with any illness, injury, or disability, regardless of age, at no cost. All equipment is sanitized and repaired.

Durable Medical Equipment flier

Maryland Health Connection Enrollment Still Open


Help to Make your Home More Energy Efficient

Federal Partner News

SBA Baltimore Seeks Nominations for

2022 Maryland Small Business Week Awards

SBA Logo

Throughout the pandemic, the American entrepreneurial spirit has helped us propel our nation forward. America’s small businesses are helping build back the U.S. economy and we would like to honor these individuals for their resiliency and achievements during SBA’s 2022 National Small Business Week.

If you or someone you know has an inspiring small business success story to tell, submit a nomination for the SBA’s National Small Business Week Awards. All nominations must be submitted electronically no later than 3:00 p.m. ET on January 11, 2022. Winners will be announced during National Small Business Week in May 2022. Visit http://www.sba.gov/nsbw

Additional awards are offered at the local level through the SBA Baltimore District Office, click here or visit (www.sba.gov/md).

"How to Nominate" Training Webinar

Fri., 1/7/22 @ 10am Register

Register online using the links above or through our calendar of events at www.sba.gov/md

Questions? rachel.howard@sba.gov, (410) 244-3337

Federal News

2022 Veterans Disability Compensation Rates

NEW: Veterans Affairs Life Insurance (VALI)

When should Veterans apply for VA Disability

VA Benefits News - how to protect your finances from fraud

VA Education Benefits Update: Special COVID-19 Rules expire on December 21, 2021

Persian Gulf War Veterans: VA extends Presumptive Period for Illnesses

Veteran Rapid Retraining Assistance Program (VRRAP)

VA Aid & Attendance and Housebound Benefits Program

VA Optometry Services and How to Schedule an Appointment

The Five Year Rule for VA Health Care

Live Whole Health #100: Mindful Holiday Season

Seven Ways to Manage Stress During the Holidays

12 Ways to Create Community this Holiday Season and Connect with other Veterans

MIlitary Women's Memorial: SGM Danyell Walters

Home Renovations with VA Home Loan Refinancing

Korean War Memorial progress update: video

COVID-19 Funeral Assisatnce from FEMA

IRS Volunteers needed for Tax Preparation


Agent Orange:

How Many Veterans Have Been Exposed to Agent Orange?

What is Agent Orange?  How is Agent Orange Toxic?

Illnesses Caused by and Connected to Agent Orange

How is Agent Orange Being Researched?

Agent Orange Exposure: How VA Can Help

Agent Orange Registries and Why They Matter

Veterans suffering from dementia can now receive free companion robotic pets through Capital Caring Health. Families within Capital Caring Health’s service area from Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia are eligible for the robotic dogs and cats. These pets are proven in numerous clinical studies to provide joy, comfort and interactive companionship to dementia sufferers, and peace of mind to their families and caregivers.

Veterans with dementia, their caregivers, or approved VA providers within the D.C., Maryland, and Virginia approved regions should complete the form to request a free Robotic Dog or Cat to be shipped while supplies last. This is an exclusive limited time offer. Please share this information with you CVEBs and community partners.

Link to form: https://www.capitalcaring.org/veterans-request-for-robotic-pet/

Read more about companion pets here.

Link to blog: Free robotic companion pets for Veterans with dementia in the DC area - VAntage Point

Spread the Word: Virtual Nursing Career Fair

The Martinsburg VAMC is hiring Nurses and needs your help! Please spread the word regarding the upcoming Virtual Nursing Career Fair Friday, Dec. 17 at 1 p.m. via Zoom. Please note: you may need to download the Zoom app prior to the meeting.

Zoom link below:

Contact: Kayla Raines, Nurse Recruiter, ext. 3708.

At the Martinsburg VAMC, nurses are at the heart of our world class, patient-centered standard of care. Day in and day out, our nurses go the extra mile to make a difference in the lives of our Veterans. Come join our team taking care of our Nation’s Heroes. 

USAJOBS - Job Announcement - Registered Nurse - Assistant Nurse Manager (ICU)

USAJOBS - Job Announcement – Registered Nurse – Nursing Officer of the day/Patient Flow Coordinator

USAJOBS - Job Announcement - Registered Nurse - Operating Room

USAJOBS - Job Announcement - Nursing Assistant-Sitter/Transport Program

USAJOBS - Job Announcement - Nursing Assistant - COVID Medical/Surgical Unit

USAJOBS - Job Announcement - Registered Nurse - COVID ICU

USAJOBS - Job Announcement - Registered Nurse - COVID Med/Surg

USAJOBS - Job Announcement - Nursing Assistant - COVID Medical/Surgical Unit

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.

Patriot House photo

Matthew Hayes just completed his Eagle Scout Service Project to benefit the Patriot House in Brooklyn.  He worked with Mr. Charles Robinson, Patriot House Case Manager to develop something that would allow him to give back to our veterans.  He chose to make what is being called "Move-In" kits.  These kits contain basic household items for veterans to use when they are able to move out of the Patriot House into their own home.  For his Eagle project he solicited donations, boxed them into kits, and delivered them up to the Patriot House.  Some of the items included were dishes, pots, pans, towels, cleaning supplies, and miscellaneous kitchen and bath supplies.  Moving into a new place it could be very expensive, so he thought this might be a way to repay the veterans for their service to the country.  Doing something for the veterans was especially important to Matthew because his father, two brothers, and one sister are all veterans.  He hopes that if they are ever in the situation that these veterans find themselves in, that someone would do something to help them like he wants to help.

Photo and text provided by Matthew's family.

Community News

Join Operation Homefront’s Start Strong, Stay Strong campaign to help us help military families start strong in their military communities and stay strong throughout their journey.

#StartStrongStayStrong. Learn more atwww.OperationHomefront.org/StartStrongStayStrong

More Information

Serving Together

ServingTogether offers service members, veterans and their families access to a class-leading continuum of providers that runs the gamut from superior mental health, housing, and emergency service providers to employment, financial capabilities, education, volunteering, recreation and fitness, and more! We are able to track client progress, communicate with providers and ensure the veterans are truly getting what they need all free of charge.  

 Serving Together has been immensely successful in building a dynamic team that is truly devoted to the mission of the organization. This team has tangible, personal connections to our veterans and genuine concern for their best outcomes. ServingTogether provides peer navigation, collaboratives, guides, education, and training. Please visit our Website for more information.  


Howard County: Project Opportunity offers free Entrepreneurial Training for Veterans. Register for Spring Class. 

The Mission Continues

After more than a year of social distancing, do your networking skills need some polishing? You're not alone! The Women Veterans Leadership Program (WVLP) will equip program members with tangible skills to network not only with the other women in their cohort but with anyone they come into contact with. Social isolation has increased since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and there is no better time to foster connection with others.

By joining our next class of women veteran leaders, program members will:

  • Evaluate networking style and identify areas for growth
  • Develop practical strategies for connecting with others, both in-person and virtually
  • Map out existing network and support systems and action plans for enhancing your map
  • Gain access to resources and organizations that can support you in building their network

More Information

Veterans Day in Bowie

Veterans Day Ceremony in Bowie: Women Veterans United Committee, Inc. Directors: Karen Holmes and Tiffany Daniel, Jerry George, Marine Corps League, Dr. Joanne Fisher, CEO of WVUCI and  Nick George who is currently serving in the ROTC, placed wreaths for the fallen.

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 your 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.