31 December 2021 MDVA News and Announcements

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Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs

News and Announcements  -  December 31, 2021


Happy New Year



Message from MDVA Secretary George Owings




As 2021 draws to a close, I wish all Maryland Veterans and their families a happy and healthy New Year. I also want to assure you that all of us here at MDVA will greet 2022 with the same dedication, commitment and drive to serving those who served, as we did in 2021.

The MDVA Annual Report has just been completed, and some of the highlights include:

  • The Service and Benefits Program staff submitted 2,798 claims to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs for review and determination.
  • The Maryland Veterans Trust Fund awarded $230,000 in grants to Veterans.
  • The Outreach & Advocacy Program reached 2+ million contacts.
  • MDVA is working on plans for a second Veterans Home in Maryland. The future Veterans Home will be located in Carroll County.
  • We interred 3,929 Veterans and their dependents in the state Veterans Cemeteries, and we completed our mission to lay them to rest with honor and dignity.

If MDVA may be of assistance to you in the coming year, I hope you will call on us to help.


George W. Owings III



MDVA 2021 Annual Report


MDVA Website

Special appreciation goes out to the members of American Legion Post 206 from Chesapeake Beach who donated $5,000 in Amazon gift cards to benefit the residents of Charlotte Hall Veterans Home. The donation will be used to purchase items the residents need, such as clothing, toiletry needs, specialty medical equipment and recreational items. Thank you for this very generous donation.

Remembrance Tree

Remembrance Tree at Charlotte Hall Veterans Home

Crownsville Veterans Cemetery

Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman joins other volunteers at Crownsville Veterans Cemetery to place wreaths on Veteran's gravesites as part of the Wreaths Across America effort.

Photo courtesy of the Anne Arundel County Executive's office.


E-book of photos of the day  Credit: Jill Harris, Wreaths Across America Crownsville Committee Coordinator

2021 Wreaths Across America Crownsville Escort Video  Credit: Anne Arundel County Police

2021 Wreaths Across America Crownsville Veterans Cemetery Video  Credit: Anne Arundel County Police

State Partner News

Governor’s Office of Small, Minority & Women Business Affairs Releases 2022 Technical Training Classroom Schedule

The Governor’s Office of Small, Minority & Women Business Affairs today announced its 2022 Technical Training Classroom schedule, a monthly webinar series supporting the small business community across the state.

“We want to see Maryland’s small, minority, women, and veteran business owners compete with confidence in the state contracting arena,” said Jimmy Rhee, special secretary of the Governor’s Office of Small, Minority & Women Business Affairs. “The curriculum of this webinar series is carefully curated to achieve that goal.”

Offered at no cost to small, minority, women, and veteran business owners and entrepreneurs, two dozen sessions will be conducted throughout the year. Staff from the Governor’s Office of Small, Minority & Women Business Affairs will teach classes focused on navigating the state procurement process while small business owners and representatives from small business resource organizations will lend their expertise to cover topics focused on improving overall operational efficiencies.

“We moved this program to a virtual platform in 2020 and immediately saw increased engagement,” Rhee said. “In 2021, we conducted 24 virtual webinars and reached more than 2,500 guests.” 

The Technical Training Classroom webinar series is offered twice each month. Advance registration is required to attend these free sessions. 

Registration is now open for the two January sessions:

Visit goMDsmallbiz.maryland.gov to view the full 2022 Technical Training Classroom schedule.

MES Challenge Coin

The Maryland Environmental Service (MES) leadership wanted to do something special for our veterans and a challenge coin thanking them for their service just seemed like a perfect way to do this.  The challenge coins have been well received by our amazing veterans. From our Executive Director - Charles C. Glass, Ph.D., P.E. : “We are thrilled that our Veterans find the challenge coins to be a respectful way to honor their service to our nation.  We strive to show how much we value all that they have given every day and hope that they know that it comes from our deep-felt appreciation.”

Photo and text provided by Joseph Wright, MES

Spotlight on Education: Morgan State University:

The W.O.M.E.N. Platform is powered by the Entrepreneurial Development & Assistance Center (EDAC) at Morgan State University. Funding for the W.O.M.E.N. Platform is made possible by a grant from Truist.

Women Veteran Entrepreneurs Podcast: Episode 8: Packaging for the World with C. Nicole Orr

News from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources


Maryland Announces Winter and Spring Trout Stocking

for 2022
Preseason Stocking Begins; Traditional Trout Opener is

March 26

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced plans to stock 300,000 trout in Maryland waters. The annual stocking will be completed in three bursts, preseason from now through February and spring stocking March 14 –25 and April 18 – 29. Read more.


First Day Hikes 2022

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. Read More Here


First Lady Yumi Hogan Joins Call to Protect Assateague’s Wild Horses

Each year, more than one million visitors cross the Verrazano Bridge to the narrow strip of barrier island that is Assateague, which is divided into Maryland’s Assateague State Park and the federal Assateague Island National Seashore. One of the major attractions here is the freely roaming herd of wild horses.


Finding ‘Ben’s 10'
Maryland Archaeology Team Races Elements for Major Harriet Tubman Find

As fog burned off the wetlands at the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge one March morning, Dr. Julie Schablitsky trudged deep into the muck. Water inundated the roads, and phragmites grew alongside.  For Schablitsky, Chief Archaeologist at the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) State Highway Administration, the trek through this flooded marshland was worth it. Read more.

Federal Partner News


CFPB logo

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued two joint letters regarding important legal housing protections for military families. One letter was sent to landlords and other housing providers regarding protections for military tenants. A second letter was sent to mortgage servicers regarding military borrowers who have already exited or will be exiting COVID-19 mortgage forbearance programs in the coming weeks and months.

The letter to landlords and other housing providers reminds property owners of the important housing protections for military tenants, some of whom may have had to relocate or make other changes to their housing arrangements in response to the crisis. While military families enjoy the same legal protections and privileges afforded to all other homeowners and tenants, they also have additional housing protections under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), which is enforceable by the DOJ and servicemembers themselves.

The letter to mortgage servicers comes in response to complaints from military families and veterans on a range of potential mortgage servicing violations, including inaccurate credit reporting, misleading communications to borrowers, and required lump sum payments for reinstating their mortgage loans. These complaints are being reviewed for compliance by the CFPB with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and other applicable requirements.

“The illegal foreclosures of military families in the last crisis was one of the financial industry’s worst failures,” said CFPB Director Rohit Chopra. “The CFPB will be closely watching mortgage servicers and will hold them accountable for illegal tactics perpetrated against military families.”

“The Department of Justice takes seriously its responsibility to safeguard the rights of servicemembers and veterans,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke. “While servicemembers carry the great burdens of this Nation, they should not have to worry that their sacrifices will result in economic harm to their families. Mortgage servicers and landlords must ensure that they are in full compliance with federal laws intended to protect servicemembers and their families during military service.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, roughly 7.6 million homeowners entered forbearance. While the majority have resumed their regular mortgage payments, approximately 1.25 million borrowers – many of whom are military borrowers – remain in forbearance programs that will expire at the end of the year. Ensuring that mortgage servicers comply with their legal obligations is crucial, especially since a decade ago some large financial institutions illegally seized the homes of military families, sending their lives into a tailspin. These violations were a result of breakdowns in the mortgage servicing industry that were severe and widespread. The result was numerous settlements with regulators, including a $186 million settlement between DOJ and some of the country’s largest mortgage servicers.  

Servicemembers have several legal protections under the SCRA that are designed to enable them to devote their entire energy to the national defense. These include, for example, a prohibition on foreclosing on certain servicemembers’ mortgages without court orders, the ability for military families to terminate residential leases early, and without penalty, upon receipt of military orders, and a prohibition on evicting military families from their homes without court orders.  In addition, under the CARES Act and Regulation X, servicemembers and veterans have the same protections available to all mortgage borrowers. These include, for example, streamlined COVID hardship forbearance options, requirements that mortgages receiving a COVID-19 hardship forbearance be reported as “current” to credit reporting agencies if the loan was current before entering forbearance under the CARES Act, and requirements in the Bureau’s Regulations X and Z for treatment of delinquent borrowers and borrowers who have applied for loss mitigation.

The CFPB and DOJ are calling on mortgage servicers and landlords to ensure that military homeowners and tenants are safeguarded during the pandemic and benefit equally from the Nation’s economic recovery.

View the joint letter to landlords and housing providers regarding military renter protections.

View the joint letter to mortgage servicers on military homeowner protections.

Federal News

Register to compete in virtual adaptive fitness event hosted by VA's Office of National Sports Programs and Special Events

Veterans, Gold Star Families receive free entrance to national parks, refuges, other public lands

VA Survey: Help VA Understand What Veterans Need for Childcare

VA Survey: 5-Minute Survey to Help Women Veterans

The Military is Reporting Fewer Hearing Problems, Health.mil article

Hearing Center of Excellence: Ear Protection, Health.mil video

How often should veterans get eye exams?

Does VA Provide LASIK Surgery for Veterans?

Does VA pay for expensive eye medications?

Can Veterans work while receiving VA Disability?

Veterans Get Free Premium Membership to LinkedIn

Higher Education Support Services Available for Veterans with Disabilities

Free entrepreneurial training available to Veterans

Starting a Veteran-Owned Small Business?

ETS Sponsorship Program has positive impact for transitioning service members

Ask these six questions to find the workplace culture for you

Military Spouses: A new career waits for you at VA

Live Whole Health #101: Exploring your values

Live Whole Health #102: Nourishment for self-care

Live Whole Health #103: Loving Kindness

Best of 2021: Top Veteran Resources of the Year

Request for Volunteers

The Government Accounting Office (GAO), an independent, nonpartisan federal agency that helps inform Congress about key issues affecting the communities they serve, is studying whether VA’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program is meeting the needs of women veterans facing homelessness. For this study, we are looking for volunteers to participate in two discussion groups of women veterans who have experienced or were at risk of homelessness in the past 5 years. These discussions will focus on the experiences of women veterans, any services they received (or did not receive), and unmet needs, if any.

If you or someone you know is willing to share their perspectives on these issues, please use the link to sign-up for either of the 90-minute discussion sessions listed below.

  • Discussion group 1: Thursday, January 6 from 3:00-4:30pm EST
  • Discussion group 2: Wednesday, January 12 from 3:00-4:30pm EST


If you have any questions about participating, please feel free to reach out to Lauren Mosteller at mostellerl@gao.gov or 202-512-6080. Please note that information you share about your experience may be included in a GAO report about VA programs, however, your name will not be included in the report.  

News from VA Maryland Health Care System

We encourage you to be prepared as we head into the winter season by signing up to receive real-time information on facility closures and emergency notifications from the VA Maryland Health Care System, right on your mobile phone.

To receive emergency notifications, text vamaryland to 333111 (no spaces).

You will receive a confirmation text.

And if you aren’t already, be sure to stay in touch with us through these other means to keep abreast of the latest information and news you need to stay healthy and well.

  1. Connect with us on social media:
  2. Sign up for our E-News Subscription Service.
  3. Visit us online at our new website.

With COVID-19 cases on the rise throughout Maryland, we want to provide tips to help you and your family stay safe.

The VA Maryland Health Care System is currently offering COVID-19 testing only to hospitalized patients and those Veterans who have symptoms of COVID-19.

  • If you do not have symptoms, but you want to be tested for COVID-19, please visit one of the hundreds of COVID testing sites in Maryland. For a listing of testing sites near you, visit:  https://coronavirus.maryland.gov/pages/symptoms-testing.
  • The Emergency Department at the Baltimore VA Medical Center and the Urgent Care Clinic at the Perry Point VA Medical Center should be used for symptomatic and ill patients so they can be seen and treated in a timely manner. Crowding the Emergency Department or Urgent Care Clinic can cause conditions for exposure.  Minimize your risk by not coming to the Emergency Department or Urgent Care if you are not sick!

If you have questions regarding an illness, your medications, or a health concern, please call our Telephone Care Line. Nurses are available to speak with you 24/7 at 1-800-865-2441. If you have an emergency, call 911.


Jonathan R. Eckman, P.E.

Director, 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.

Community News

Habitat for Humanity’s Critical Home Repair Program in Carroll County – if you have any questions please contact Scott Swartz at sswartz@cchabitat.org or 410-871-4131.  Read More Here


Saratoga WarHorse Foundation, a veteran-run 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the mission of improving the physical, mental, and emotional health of our Veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) by providing a healing, equine-assisted experience. We are a national organization and proud to have served more than 1,000 Veterans and Service Members struggling with PTS. As you know, our Veteran participants’ trauma is most often a result of combat experiences, military sexual trauma (MST), and/or transitioning from military to civilian life.

Saratoga WarHorse helps our Veterans and Service Members move past their trauma by partnering them with rescued and retired off-the-track Thoroughbred racehorses. This innovative approach to addressing PTS is what we call the  “The Connection Process.” We invite you to experience this transformative process by visiting our website saratogawarhorse.org.

Our program takes place over three days and offered several times each month. There are three program locations; New York, Maryland, and South Carolina.  Below are upcoming class dates in your area.

Baltimore, MD:

January 14-16, 28-30

February 4-6, 18-20

March 11-13, 18-20

Veterans and Service Members from all branches of the military, regardless of when or how long they served, or their discharge status are welcomed into the program. We ask that you may share Saratoga WarHorse with your local Veterans in need. Please know there are absolutely NO costs to participate in the program. Through the generosity of our community partners, private donors, and past participants, Saratoga WarHorse covers the entire cost of transporting participants from anywhere in the United States and U.S. territories, as well as their lodging, and meals.

Fact Sheet Page 1     Fact Sheet Page 2


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.  


Community Calendar

January 12, 2022

Project Opportunity Free Entrepreneur Training for Veterans, Columbia

January 12th & 13th, 2022

Hiring and Resources Event for Maryland National Guard Members, Spouses, Dependents, Caregivers and Military Veterans, Towson

January 26, 2022

2022 Maryland Small Business Development Center Statewide Conference: Thriving in a Post-Pandemic World

January 29, 2022

Fundraiser to Benefit Disadvantaged and Homeless Veterans, Newberg, Register

Dr. Fisher photo

Jan Adams (right), President  & CEO of JMA Solutions, gave $5,000 to the Women Veterans United Committee, Inc. during the Women Veterans United Committee, Inc. & JVC Women Veterans Legislative Committee, Holiday Christmas Celebration, held at DAV Omaha Beach Chapter #7, Sunday, December 19, 2021. Dr. Joanne Fisher is accepting the donation.

Dr. Fisher donation photo

From Forman Mills, WVUCI purchased t-shirts, slippers, socks, and hats for our Cancer Program.  In this photo are Jessica Roberts, Malasha Hom, Virginia Moore, Luciana Smith, and Edward Thomas, Security Officer.  We would like to thank JMA Solutions, Forman Mills, DAV Omaha Beach #7, MOPH, VFW, and AMVETS for their sponsorship of our wonderful Cancer Program.

Photos and text provided by the Women Veterans United Committee, Inc.

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.