25 February 2022 MDVA News and Announcements

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Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs

News and Announcements  -  February 25, 2022


MDVA  Receives National Recognition:

Abraham Lincoln Pillars of Excellence Award

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Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary, George Owings announces that The Honorable Denis McDonough, Secretary of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) awarded the department the 2022 Abraham Lincoln Pillars of Excellence Award for innovative state program for Maryland’s Serving Those Who Served - A Public Library program. The program, a partnership with the Maryland State Library Agency, began as a pilot initiative in 2014 to expand veteran outreach and library personnel education in Maryland.

The VA and National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs worked together to establish the Pillars of Excellence Awards to identify and formally recognize innovative state programs that support or exemplify VA’s strategic goals and priorities. Each year, states submit the work and programs they have developed to compete for an award in a number of categories. Maryland was one of eight states to submit a best practice which improves opportunities and outcomes for veterans.

“The partnership between the Department of Veterans Affairs and Maryland State Library Agency has increased awareness of the many programs offered to support Maryland’s veterans and families,” said Governor Larry Hogan. “Our administration is excited for the department’s recognition and to celebrate receipt of this national award.”

“We are honored to receive the 2022 Abraham Lincoln Pillar of Excellence Award, a first for the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs, for Innovative State Programming,” said Secretary Owings. “I am thankful for Maryland State Library Agency’s commitment to expanding its service delivery to service members, veterans, and families.”

“The Maryland State Library Agency is thrilled to be recognized as a recipient of the Abraham Lincoln Pillars of Excellence award, along with our partners at the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs, honoring this important work to meet the needs of Veterans and their families,” said Irene Padilla, State Librarian. “This partnership has allowed those who served and their loved ones to connect to valuable programs and services through their local public libraries.”

Maryland submitted for the award this year to recognize its eight-year partnership with the Maryland State Library Agency. Since 2014, Dana Burl, Outreach and Advocacy Program Director for the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs has led the partnership, alongside Carrie Sanders, Youth Services Coordinator for the Maryland State Library Agency, and Joy Ashcraft, Director, Maryland’s Commitment to Veterans, a Maryland Department of Health program. More than 10 events have been held to discuss best practices for connecting with veterans and their families. Events have included military/veteran cultural competency training, VA benefits training, book club facilitation, military youth programming, and transitional housing program and Vet Center briefings. Library personnel have been exposed to many organizations serving the military connected community and last year close to 40 completed the VA’s S.A.V.E. Gatekeeper Suicide Prevention Training program.

For more information on the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs, visit:

MDVA Website

VA Award Photo

Dana Burl, MDVA Director of Outreach & Advocacy receives the Abraham Lincoln Pillars of Excellence Award from United States Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary, Denis McDonough (left).  Also shown from the right are: Thomas Pallandino, President of the National Association of State Departments of Veterans Affairs and MDVA Deputy Secretary Robert Finn.

Save the Date Women Veterans event

MDVA Women Veterans/Inclusion Program

MDVA Women Veterans/Inclusion Program Focus Group Survey

Charlotte Hall Photo Collage

Charlotte Hall Veterans Home Director, Michele Cariaso visits with St. Mary's and Calvert Counties' first responders to thank them for their support and for ensuring the safety of the Charlotte Hall residents.

CASA photo

Ms. Mary Ann Jernigan, Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army for Maryland visited MDVA recently to learn about the programs and services offered to Maryland Veterans.  She is shown here with MDVA Deputy Secretary Robert Finn.

State Partner News

Marylanders to Celebrate Harriet Tubman’s 200th Birthday



Weekend of Events Planned March 12-13 at State Park

Governor Larry Hogan announced that in celebration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Harriet Tubman and the 5th anniversary of its opening, the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park and Visitor Center will host a series of free, family-friendly programs. Read more.

Maple Syrup Festival Returns Live to Cunningham Falls

Event Takes Place March 12-13 and March 19-20

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources invites the public to celebrate the Maple Syrup Festival at Cunningham Falls State Park this March. This popular event takes place during two weekends, March 12-13 and March 19-20, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day. Read more.

March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month


Problem Gambling Awareness

News from the Governor’s Office of Small, Minority & Women Business Affairs

Contracting Q&A Session for Veterans with SBA Baltimore. MD PTAC, & VA 

March 2, 2022 at 11 amThe SBA Baltimore District Office is holding virtual "office hours" with the Maryland Procurement Technical Assistance Center and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Drop in to ask your questions and learn how SBA's counseling services and federal contracting programs can help you grow and expand your business.



Maryland Veteran-Owned Small Business Enterprise (VSBE) Program Overview

March 3, 2022 at 1 pm

Maryland's VSBE Program provides contracting opportunities on state-funded procurements for qualified veteran-owned small businesses. This webinar will cover eligibility standards, registration, verification, and certification for this program.



Ready, Set, GROW! Procurement Connections Webinar

Are you interested in contracting opportunities with government agencies? This webinar on Wednesday, March 16, will take a look at how our small, minority, women, and veteran procurement programs work, and show you how to turn public information into business development tools.

You'll also get to meet buyers from five state agencies. Each will share what they are looking to buy right now, what is in the pipeline, and how to connect with them directly.

Guests for this event include:

Register for the webinar here.

2022 Session of the Maryland General Assembly has Convened

The Maryland General Assembly is currently meeting in Annapolis for the 2022 Legislative Session.  As a service to the veteran community, information on proposed legislation of possible interest to veterans is provided below:

2022 Legislative Information

You may check the status of proposed legislation by visiting the:

Maryland General Assembly Website

university of Maryland

Veterans Networking Social Event
Thursday, March 3, 2022 | 5:30 PM - 7:30 PM
Denizens Brewing Co. - Riverdale Park - 4550 Van Buren St, Riverdale, MD 20737
Attire: Business casual to business professional
Food is provided and drinks are available at the bar.
RSVP at stamp.umd.edu/vetnetworking

Grab some food and a drink. Talk to some people. Have a great time. If we never take time, we will never have time. Current Student Veterans, Alumni, Campus Partners, Employers, Veterans, and Veteran Supporters are all welcome.

Federal Partner News

Federal News:

United States Department of Labor: Information for Veterans pursuing Trucking Careers

Free training programs offer Veterans, military spouses path to tech careers

VA: Getting Certified as a Veteran-Owned Small Business

Get paid work experience through VA's National Diversity Internship Program

VA proposes updates to disability rating schedules for respiratory, auditory and mental disorders body systems

March 9th: Women Veterans Virtual Public Forum

VA Women's Health Reengagement Training

Live Whole Health #110: Chair Yoga for Heart Health

Live Whole Health #111: Tai Chi and the 7 Posture Series

VA Health Equity Podcast Episode 8 - LGBTQ+ Veteran health

One year after enactment: Isakson-Roe Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act

Curious about QR Codes and why they are useful?

The new VBA appointment scheduling system is live: https://vets.force.com/VAVERA/s/.  Veterans can schedule an in person or virtual appointment with a claims specialist at the VBA regional office closest to them.

Registration open for 2022 National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic in San Diego

The VA Center for Women Veterans has developed a survey designed to help us understand why women Veterans are not accessing their benefits and services. The survey is completely anonymous, takes less than five minutes, is for any woman who served in the U.S. military, and includes a Spanish and Tagalog version.   The link for the survey is: https://survey.voice.va.gov/?cwv-women-veterans.

Medicare.gov: Find & compare nursing homes, hospitals and providers near you

Here's what else you can do when comparing nursing homes:

  • Check out their overall star ratings. The overall rating is based on a nursing home's performance on 3 sources: health inspections, staffing, and quality of resident care.
  • View detailed staffing data,including the staffing hours of different types of staff and staff turnover rates.
  • See COVID-19 vaccination ratesfor residents and staff at nursing homes in your area.
  • Find nursing home contact information and directions.

Visit Medicare.gov for more information about nursing homes, and what Medicare does and does not cover.


The Medicare Team

Have you gotten robocalls, text messages, or emails offering COVID-19 tests in exchange for your Medicare Number? Be careful! Scammers are selling fake and unauthorized at-home COVID-19 test kits in exchange for your personal or medical information. Do not give out your Medicare Number for COVID-19 test kits!

Make sure to purchase FDA-approved COVID-19 test kits from legitimate providers. Over-the-counter or at-home tests are available for sale around the U.S. at many reputable and trustworthy retailers and pharmacies.

Avoid COVID-19 Scams

Remember, each household in the U.S. can also have four free COVID-19 at-home tests shipped directly to their home at no cost. Visit COVIDtests.gov to order tests or learn more about testing.

If you suspect fraud, call 1-800-MEDICARE to report it.


The Medicare Team

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

Anne Arundel County Announces Establishment of Candace C.W. Antwine Military Service Award


Employment resources for active-duty spouses provided by the Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corporation


Anne Arundel & Howard Counties: Free Trainings & Certifications for Transitioning Active Duty Service Members, Military Spouses & Veterans


Frederick County offering Free or Discounted Rides for Veterans


Blue Star Families Book Club, Severn Library, starting March 24th


Blue Star Families Coffee Connect, Hanover on March 9th

Vietnam Veteran Programs and Salutes:

March 20th: Gilchrist's 4th Annual Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans, Limited in-person and Virtual. Video Preview


March 29th: Southern Maryland Vietnam War Veteran 50th Anniversary Salute, Chesapeake Beach.  The event organizers are accepting award requests: Award Registration

Hospice of the Chesapeake

Patriotic quilts and afghans are needed for Hospice of the Chesapeake (HOC). Twenty-five percent of their patients are veterans. HOC performs 25-30 Honor Salutes a month, each including the presentation of a quilt. We Honor Veterans is a pioneering program focused on respectful inquiry, compassionate listening and grateful acknowledgment. By recognizing the unique needs of America’s Veterans and their families, community hospice and palliative care providers, in partnership with VA staff, learn how to accompany and guide them through their life stories toward a more peaceful ending.

Quilts or crocheted blankets may be any size ranging from a lap blanket (35’x40) or larger. They may be any pattern or fabric, but red, white and blue are preferred. Blankets may be dropped off at the Pasadena office (90 Ritchie Highway, Pasadena, MD 21122) Monday-Friday, 8am-4pm.

Email Renate Little at rlittle@hospicechesapeake.org for 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.  


Dog Tag Fellowship Program

Interested in learning about business, building a strong community, and rediscovering purpose for moving forward? The Dog Tag Fellowship Program is a 5-month fellowship program that combines equal parts classroom, bakery, community, and wellbeing. Dog Tag Fellows earn a certificate of business administration in our virtual classroom space; bring their coursework to life by learning the ins and outs of running a successful business in the bakery; build community with each other; and enhance their wellbeing by committing time to introspection and personal growth.

The program is open to post-9/11 veterans with service-connected disabilities, military spouses, military caregivers, active service members in transition, and Guard and Reserve members. Fellows will receive a monthly stipend to help cover living costs as they complete the program. The program dates are Jul 12 - Nov 18, and the application deadline is March 15th. Apply here: dogtaginc.submittable.com/submit

Learn more about the program and register for upcoming recruitment events on their website: dogtaginc.org/fellowship

Community Calendar

March 7, 2022

VA Women Veterans Virtual Public Forum

March 16, 2022

Read, Set, Grow Procurement Connections Virtual Workshop

March 18, 2022

Reveille Grounds: Winter Warmup - Comedy for a Cause, Baltimore

March 20, 2022

Gilchrist's 4th Annual Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans

March 29, 2022

Southern Maryland Vietnam War Veteran 50th Anniversary Salute, Chesapeake Beach


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.