16 June 2023 MDVA News and Announcements

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Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs

News and Announcements  -  June 16, 2023


Message from Secretary Anthony Woods:


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Dear friends, 

May and June are months of both excitement and remembrance. As we look ahead with anticipation to sunny days and warm weather, we begin the summer with Memorial Day — a sacred tradition of reflection. During events at the Gold Star Family Memorial and World War II Memorial in Annapolis, I spoke about its origins and true meaning. 

Memorial Day emerged from the ravages of the Civil War when thousands of Black Americans in Charleston, South Carolina decorated the graves of Union soldiers and marched in their honor on May 1, 1865. They raised a fundamental question that remains with us today: What do we owe to those who’ve fought — and in many cases died — to uphold our most sacred values? This question animates our work every day at the MDVA. Our answer is this: Those who are willing to serve this country in uniform — to suffer injury, to change forever, or, in some cases, give their own life — deserve the best when they come home. As do their families and caregivers.  

We’re upholding that promise in our work to transform the Charlotte Hall Veterans Home. On June 6, we transitioned to a new management contractor as our partner in overhauling the facility and are instituting new processes to ensure the home is worthy of the service and sacrifices made by its residents. You can read more about our efforts in my recent op-ed.  

June is also Pride Month, another moment to celebrate progress and thank those whose bravery and activism made our country better. Last week, LGBTQ+ Veterans, Service Members, and Midshipmen joined the Department at the first ever Pride celebration hosted at Government House with the First Lady, Lieutenant Governor Miller, and Governor Moore.    

This week, on Women Veterans Day, the Department kicked off its statewide listening tour with a panel of women veteran entrepreneurs. We will be traveling around the state, listening to veterans about their experiences and working hard to bring forth positive change in their lives. 

Yours in service,


Charlotte Hall Veterans Home

Charlotte Hall Veterans Home

MDVA Website

Rick Lane ceremony

In Memoriam: It is with sadness we note the passing of Maryland Veterans Commissioner Richard Lane.  While most recently on the Maryland Veterans Commission, Rick previously served as the Deputy Secretary for the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as being a member of the Baltimore City Veterans Commission. 

He initially joined the United States Army, then enlisted in the Air Force, and retired from the Maryland Air National Guard after thirty years of service to the state and the nation.  Rick will be missed by all who knew him.  Obituary

In the photo above, a member of the Maryland Air Guard Honor Guard presents the flag to Mrs. Cookie Lane at Garrison Forest Veterans Cemetery.

Fraud Prevention Alert from MDVA:

Identity theft continues to be a significant problem for Veterans and dependents.  On occasion, a Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA) Veterans Benefits Specialist may contact a veteran or family member to request personal information before submitting a VA claim.  To mitigate the possibility of being a victim of identity theft, MDVA strongly advises veterans and families to be 100% certain they are speaking with a MDVA representative before releasing any personal information to include date of birth, social security number, or bank account information.  If there is any concern regarding the legitimacy of a phone call and the need for information, please call 800-446-4926, ext. 6450 to verify the caller is indeed a MDVA employee.

MDVA Service & Benefits Program

Women Veterans Event

National Women Veterans Day was observed on June 12th.  Bowie State University's Entrepreneurship Innovation Center (EIC), was the location for a special event to cultivate the entrepreneurial mindset for women veterans and military spouses.  MDVA Secretary Anthony Woods participated in the event.

Women Veteran Honorees

Roslyn Jones, MDVA Women Veteran/Inclusion Program Manager organized the 1st Annual Women Veterans Recognition event, which was held on June 10th. 

2023 Honorees: 

Roweena Arasah, Cynthia Cavalieri, Gloria Dent, Lisa Donor, Lakeisha Forbes, Jereatha Jennings, Dr. Tonya Johnson, Patricia Ann McCoy, Merci McKinley, Sylvia Moore, Dr. Diandra Poe, Laura Ponzo, Wanda Riddle, Marguerite Stubbs, Beverly Templeman and Erinn Watkins

Each Veteran honored received a Proclamation from Governor Wes Moore and a Citation from Senator Chris Van Hollen.

AMVETS photo

At the Annual AMVETS Department of Maryland Convention, Mr. Bruce Rice (center) was recognized for his service to the organization and named 2020-2023 Maryland AMVET of the Year.  On the left, is MDVA Deputy Secretary Robert Finn and on the right is AMVETS Department of Maryland Commander Edward McKinnon.

News from a Veterans Service Animal Program Beneficiary

Kirby Bowling, a disabled veteran, has been participating in equine therapy sessions for a little over two years at Maryland Therapeutic Riding, Inc. (MTR).  The therapeutic riding sessions were funded initially by the Wounded Warrior Project, but then continued through funding from the Maryland Veterans Service Animal Grant Program. The support made it possible for Kirby to progress over that time period from needing side and lead aide assistance when he rode to now fully functioning as an independent rider. Kirby also wants us to know about another equally important benefit through his equine therapy sessions at MTR and what it has meant to him.  In his own words:

“It is not all about the physical.  Often, when I would dismount, my legs would buckle when I tried to walk, and I needed to hold onto the horse to stay up.  It was amazing when I would take Onyx back to the barn, he would slow his pace for me and let me wrap my arm around his neck so I wouldn’t fall.  I was holding the lead rope but really, he was walking me.  I needed his help, and he knew it.  This sensitivity of the horse to its rider is profound and nothing I expected while being everything I needed.  Carter, the current horse I ride, has continued to challenge me, pushing me to be a better rider, more in tune with my strengths while pushing the envelope of my weaknesses and growing in all facets.”

MDVA Veterans Service Animal Grant Program

Kirby and Carter

Kirby Bowling, a Veteran has been participating in equine therapy sessions for over two years at Maryland Therapeutic Riding, Inc.

State Partner News

Maryland National Guard Change of Command

Governor Wes Moore hosted the change of command ceremony for the new Adjutant General for Maryland. Major General Timothy E. Gowen, the 30th Adjutant General for Maryland, relinquished command of the Maryland National Guard and the Maryland Military Department to Major General Janeen L. Birckhead during a ceremony held at the Fifth Regiment Armory in Baltimore. Read More Here.

Photo credit: Executive Office of the Governor

Pride Reception

Governor Wes Moore welcomes MDVA Secretary Anthony Woods at the LGBTQIA+ Pride Month Reception at Government House.

Governor Moore Proclaims LGBTQIA+ Pride Month in Maryland

Photo credit: Executive Office of the Governor

News from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources


June is Great Outdoors Month

Governor Wes Moore recently unveiled a new summer tourism campaign in Maryland – “You’re Welcome.” As the school year ends and vacation season begins, this theme resonates with all looking for summer fun! Particularly inviting are the outdoor spaces of our great state – and appropriately June is “Great Outdoors Month.”

Head to our website to learn about all of the activities available on Maryland's public lands.


Attention Waterway Users: Nice-Middleton Bridge Update

Lives Are at Stake – Make No Wake! As warm weather returns to the region and traffic on the Potomac River increases, patrol boats are enforcing a 6-knot speed limit a half-mile north and south of the bridge. Wakes from speeding boats are extremely dangerous for project workers. Calm river waters are essential for keeping everyone safe. Please use extreme caution in the area, steer clear of construction vessels, and slow down to Make No Wake. For more information, visit www.nicemiddletonbridge.com or call 888-994-1415.

Maryland Rolls Out ‘5 Million Trees’ Initiative

For the next eight years the Maryland Forest Service will feature a familiar refrain: 5 Million Trees!

The 5 Million Trees Initiative was mandated by legislation, the Tree Solutions Now Act of 2021. Part of this legislation included a historic directive to plant 5 million native trees on public and private land by 2031. These trees are in addition to standard state planting levels–so with more than six million people living in Maryland, at least one tree will be planted for each resident by 2031. Read more.

Federal Partner News

Federal News

Appealing VA health care decisions

More survivors of Veterans eligible for PACT Act benefits

June 21st: VA Financial Wellness Wednesday

PTSD Screening Day is June 27th: Take the Self-Screen

PTSD Treatment Decision Aid

VA Online Programs

VA App Store

Disability Housing Grants for Veterans

The 1973 Fire at the National Personnel Records Center

Improving LGBTQ+ Veterans' Whole Health through PRIDE

VA celebrates Pride Month with events hosted by many VA facilities

Live Whole Health #174: Motion is lotion

Live Whole Health #175: Body and mind reset with yoga

How VA is reaching unsheltered Veterans

VA programs to support Veterans who are struggling with loneliness

VA researcher helping to change the future of Alzheimer's Disease

Staying healthy in smoky air exposure

Highlights from the 2023 National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic

Highlights from the 2023 National Golden Age Games

Blue Star Families encourages Veterans to take its Military Family Lifestyle Survey

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

Baltimore County Veteran Suicide Coalition, Meets 4th Thursday


Women Veterans United Committee, Inc. Annual Baby Shower


Walk in Their Footsteps New Boot/Shoe collection for Homeless Veterans

Howard County Veterans Foundation unveils monument design

COLUMBIA, Md. — The Howard County Veterans Foundation unveiled the design of the Howard County Veterans and Military Families Monument planned for the lakefront in downtown Columbia. The monument design was introduced at a public presentation June 7 at the Vivian C. “Millie” Bailey Park, where the monument will stand.

[High-resolution JPG renderings of the monument]

“We’re building a monument that recognizes, preserves and pays tribute to the service and sacrifice of veterans and military families in Howard County and deepens the public’s appreciation of the courage, conviction and sacrifice made by them in support of our community and nation,” said Robert Gillette, president of the Howard County Veterans Foundation. “We hope everyone who visits the monument will leave with a renewed sense of gratitude at the profound commitment of military service.”

The monument will cover 25,000 square feet and feature a sculpture made of three symbolic stars. The base star will represent the greater community who support the military and their families when someone is deployed. The blue star commemorates military service members and families. A hollow gold star embedded in the blue star recognizes the hole left with the loss of service members who have died in the line of duty.

A reflecting pond and bench will circle the sculpture and complete the monument, which will be engraved with words and quotes about the virtues of service, freedom and democracy.

The Howard County Veterans Foundation is raising $2.75 million to build and maintain the monument. Maryland grants totaling $1.5 million, Howard County grants totaling $295,000 and private donations totaling $51,000 comprise the initial funding.

“Howard County is home to more than 20,000 veterans who have served our country with conviction and courage. As a nation, we owe a debt of gratitude to the countless servicemembers who have dedicated their lives to protect and defend our country,” said Howard County Executive Calvin Ball.

“As the proud son and grandson of veterans, I know the importance of paying our respect and gratitude to these heroes firsthand. We are honored to partner with the Veterans Foundation and the state of Maryland to support the design and construction of a Veterans and Military Families Monument in downtown Columbia. This meaningful and powerful monument will serve as a place of recognition, remembrance and reflection for the many veterans and military families who have sacrificed in service to our country.”

According to the Howard County Office of Veterans and Military Families, Howard County’s population includes more than 14,000 residents commuting to jobs at Fort George G. Meade and more than 1,000 students in the county’s public schools who have a parent on active duty.

Artist Larry Kirkland designed the monument. He has created large-scale environmental installations at hospitals, medical schools, universities and transit centers throughout the world, including the Southwestern Pennsylvania World War II Memorial, Sarasota National Cemetery and the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial in Washington, D.C. He has been working on the Howard County Veterans and Military Families Monument since 2017.

“We’ve spent over five years carefully considering and designing every detail of the veterans monument to properly pay tribute to our veterans and families,” Gillette said. “We want it to be a place for the community to gather on Memorial Day, Independence Day, Veterans Day and throughout the year to celebrate the freedoms and privileges our veterans swore an oath to protect.”

The Howard County Veterans Foundation honors the service and sacrifice of veterans and their families who live, work or play in Howard County. The foundation holds events dedicated to veterans issues and is developing the Howard County Veterans and Military Families Monument. (HowardCountyVeterans.org)


Seema Reza, CEO and Ashy Palliparambil, Director of Programs at Community Building Art Works (CBAW) provided a workshop at the event honoring Women Veterans.  Here are more opportunities to participate in CBAW activities:

Glowing in the Bright - June 21st (VIRTUAL)

Join CBAW for Glowing in the Bright, a summer reading to celebrate our community of authors Sarah Herrin, Amber Flame, Sunu Chandy, Arthur Kayzakian and Laura Joyce-Hubbard as they read from their new published works. Hosted by Hari Alluri.

Stay after the reading for Open Studio with Veteran and Artist, Shaun Smith. Bring anything you want to work on, in any medium, and create art with our community.

More Than One Story - Next Virtual Orientation July 11th!

Our monthly program for Women and Non-Binary Military has begun, but if you are still interested in participating, it's not too late. Interested individuals must attend an upcoming orientation to participate. Visit www.cbaw.org/mtos for more details.

Visit www.cbaw.org to learn more about Community Building Art Works. For more information, email info@cbaw.org. Follow us on social media

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News from Project Opportunity

Project Opportunity, which provides FREE entrepreneur training for Veterans has opened enrollment for the Fall session:

Veteran Training on Eastern Shore. Flier

Spouses of Veterans, Active Duty and Guard/Reserve Personnel Training, Takoma Park

Community Calendar

June 16, 2023 - TODAY

DC Vet Center Open House, Washington, DC

June 17, 2023

Women's Veterans Day, American Legion Post 66, Bowie, hosted by the Mental Hope Foundation, Inc.

Mindfulness with Art, Oxon Hill, sponsored by Women Veterans United Committee, Inc.

June 20, 2023

Armed Services Blood Program Blood Drive, Baltimore Federal Bldg.

June 21, 2023

Free Yoga Class for Emergency Responders/Military Personnel, Chesapeake College

June 24, 2023

Military Family Fun Day, Boyds, RSVP using QR code in linked flier

June 27, 2023

Strategies for Digital Marketing, Virtual

June 29, 2023

Leveraging Your Certifications, Virtual

Women Veterans Meet & Greet, LaPlata

June 30, 2023

Fort George G. Meade Red, White & Blue Celebration

July 12, 2023

Veteran Job Fair, Baltimore

July 14, 2023

Baltimore Station Fundraiser: Crab Feast & Bull Roast, Baltimore

July 16, 2023

Japanese American Veterans Association (JAVA) Day of Affirmation, Washington, DC

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.