9 September 2023 News and Announcements

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Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs

News and Announcements  -  September 9, 2023


September is Suicide Prevention Month



This month is earmarked as National Suicide Prevention Month.  It is a time to reflect on the lives lost to suicide, on survivors of suicide loss, and to educate on resources available for suicide prevention.  As I reflect on my many years of working in behavioral health, I would be remiss if I did not highlight the incredible work being done by the Maryland Department of Health’s Maryland’s Commitment to Veterans Director, Ms. Joy Ashcraft, in her leadership on the US Department of Veterans Affairs/US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Governor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide Among Service Members, Veterans and Families.  

As her co-lead on this initiative, I’ve had the honor of joining a multidisciplinary team to develop a statewide action plan to prevent suicide in the military connected community and to launch the Trained Military Assistance Provider Program.  My thanks goes to the entire challenge team and their ongoing efforts to raise awareness of suicide prevention resources and to train on suicide prevention best practices.   

For 24/7 confidential support, call the Veterans Crisis Line at 988 and press 1 or text 838255.  Learn more about VA resources for suicide prevention.

Dana Burl, Director

Communications, Outreach, and Advocacy Program 

Suicide Prevention Month graphic

PACT Act update:

The MDVA website has been updated with information to help address the questions we have been receiving related to the PACT Act.  Please check out the updated information here.  If you have additional questions, the MDVA Service and Benefits staff stands ready to help.  Please contact the MDVA office most convenient for you.


MDVA Website

Women Veterans Quarterly Chat

MDVA Service Animal Program: FY24 Notice of Funding Availability Announced

The Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs anticipates awarding approximately $170,000 in grants to eligible service animal and equine therapy programs.  Please see the FY24 Notice of Funding Availability for more information.  Applicants must complete the FY24 Grant Application and budget sheet in advance of November 3, 2023 at 3:00pm (EST) to be considered for an award.  Please direct questions to Toni Gianforti, Grant Specialist, at toni.gianforti@maryland.gov.

The MDVA will conduct a technical assistance conference call to provide further application and budget preparation assistance and to answer questions. The FY 2024 Maryland Veteran Service Animal Grant Program NOFA technical assistance call will be held Friday, October 13, 2023.
Call in number: (US) +1 904-323-4746
PIN: 541 266 756#
Meeting Link: https://meet.google.com/ukg-nurg-moh?authuser=0&hs=122

FY24 Notice of Funding Availability

FY24 Grant Application

● Application and Budget Technical Assistance Conference Call: Friday, October 13, 2023, 10:00am – 11:30 am
● Online Application Deadline: November 3, 2023
● Award Notices//Denial Notices e-mailed: November 14, 2023
● Award Documents Due: November 30, 2023
● Program Start Date: January 1, 2024
● Interim Grant Report Due: July 15, 2024
● Program End Date: December 31, 2024

Lifeline Horse Rescue

Lifeline Horse Rescue and Rehabilitation, Inc., an FY23 MDVA Service Animal Grant Program recipient, utilized the majority of their grant award to support the services of a mental health and equine specialist to provide equine assisted psychotherapy for veterans within their Lifeline Equine Therapy Services (LETS) Program, as well as additional EAGALA training and certification for two staff members.  Welcoming MDVA staff the day of our visit was Lifeline’s Executive Director Leila Hertzberg, an Eagala-certified Equine Specialist and professional horsewoman with over 45 years of experience working with horses; and Jesse Logan, Ph.D.  and licensed Clinical Director of LETS.  Dr. Logan served on Active Duty in the US Army. After being Honorably Discharged, he worked in pastoral ministry for 20 years. Since 2005, in addition to working with LETS veterans, he has worked with Active Duty and Retired service members at Walter Reed as a psychotherapist.  Honey, a Paint, is one of the horses veterans work with in the LETS Program. Lifeline Horse Rescue and Rehabilitation, Inc. 2023 Fall Open House on October 14th.

Operation Green Light

The Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs looks forward to joining the National Association of Counties this year on Operation Green Light.  During the week of November 6 to 12, we encourage governments, businesses, organizations, and individuals to join us by illuminating buildings and homes in green and by learning more about resources available to our service members, veterans, and families in Maryland.  We will host a community outreach conversation Wednesday September 27 at 2pm and encourage you to join us to learn more about Operation Green Light.

More information on Operation Green Light can be found here: Operation Green Light 2023 (maryland.gov)

Conversation details:

Veterans Day/Operation Green Light Community Outreach Call

Wednesday, September 27 · 2:00 – 3:00pm

Google Meet joining info

Video call link: https://meet.google.com/kqp-fxqc-eqb

Or dial: ‪(US) +1 443-584-5057 PIN: ‪285 241 818#

Photo with the Civilian Aide to the Army

Secretary Woods met with Mary Jane Jernigan, Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army (CASA) and COL Bill Montgomery, USA, (Ret). 

State Partner News

Governor's Office of Small, Minority & Women Business Affairs

Primary Logo


Stay connected to the many opportunities for training, networking, and business development that are taking
place across Maryland and on virtual platforms. Here is a highlight of some of the events coming up this month.
Check out the full listing of small business events online at goMDsmallbiz.maryland.gov.


09/11/2023 - How to Fund Your Business Startup
09/12/2023 - Elevate & Engage: MBE Networking Event
09/19/2023 - HUB Zone Certification & Doing Business with the Federal Government
09/20/2023 - Contractors - What Bonded & Insured Really Means
09/26/2023 - Subcontracting in Maryland's MBE Program
09/28/2023 - Business Financial Literacy

Veterans Crisis Line

News from Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Maryland Begins Migratory Game Bird Hunting Seasons

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources has announced the state’s 2023-2024 migratory game bird hunting seasons, the first of which begin Sept. 1. Hunters will head into the field as seasons open for mourning doves and early Canada geese all across Maryland. Read more.

Archery Deer Hunting Season Opens Sept. 8 Across Maryland

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources announced the archery hunting season for white-tailed and sika deer opens statewide Sept. 8 and ends Jan. 31, 2024. Archers may also use vertical longbows and vertical recurve bows Feb. 1-3, 2024 during the second annual Primitive Deer Hunt Days. Read more.

Applications Accepted for 2024 Keep Maryland Beautiful Grants

The Maryland Departments of Natural Resources, Transportation, and Agriculture, along with the Chesapeake Bay Trust, are partnering to accept applications for this year’s Keep Maryland Beautiful Grants program. Read more.

Federal Partner News

Martinsburg VA Medical Center ALERT

Travel Alert: US 340 Closure

A section of US 340 in Harpers Ferry W. Va. will CLOSE for construction beginning Sept. 12th. Travel between the Ft. Detrick, Md. outpatient clinic and the Martinsburg VAMC may be impacted. Expect detours, allocate extra travel time. Find more information on the WVDOT US 340 closure site.

Women's Health Care at VA graphic

Federal News

September 9th: VA Maryland Health Care System Veterans Creative Arts Showcase, Timonium

September 13th: 1st Annual Suicide Prevention Walk 2023, Perry Point VAMC

September 30th: New PACT Act deadline: Health care enrollment for Veterans deployed to combat zones

Message from the VA Maryland Health Care System on the PACT Act health care enrollment deadline

VA on pace to house at least 38,000 more homeless Veterans by end of 2023

Five tips on how to engage with homeless Veterans

Apply for Veteran Employment Through Technology Education Courses (VET TEC)

VA S.A.V.E. Training - supporting Veterans through a crisis.

Live Whole Health #184: Using the senses to experience mindfulness

Live Whole Health #185: Hello body!

MOVE! to a healthier you with the Fresh Focus podcast

VA: End of Life Benefits

End of Life Planning: Prepare for the future with VA

Dream Foundation fulfills final Dreams of Veterans and their families, caregivers

The Mission Continues: Honoring those who served, sacrificed in the wake of 9/11

Applications are open for the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic

Warrior Rising awarding free cookie business franchise to a Veteran

Researchers at VA’s National Center for PTSD are studying holistic, non-medical treatments for Veterans with PTSD and Chronic Pain. The study will be fully remote and consists of a 12-week, remotely delivered, twice weekly, Tai Chi or Wellness group. Participants will also be asked to complete initial and final assessments involving questionnaires, an interview with study staff, and an assessment of physical and mental health. Participants will be compensated up to $355 for participating.

Visit: https://www.research.va.gov/for_veterans/ptsd-pain-holistic.cfm to learn more about the study and eligibility requirements for participation. For more questions, contact our study team at 857-364-6262.

VA Update: Agent Orange

Join VA’s virtual class, Agent Orange: What You Need to Know, and learn about Agent Orange exposure, related health conditions, benefits, information for Blue Water Navy Veterans, and other recent updates including how the PACT Act impacts you. This free class takes place on Thursday, September 21, from 1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. ET. You can attend through your personal computer, smart phone, or tablet.  

To learn more about this class and sign up, see the class flyer at Agent Orange: What You Need to Know (va.gov)

It's National Suicide Prevention Month

For those that serve or who have served, crises can be heightened by their experiences during military service. If you’re a veteran or service member and in crisis, there is help.

Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to let your friends know what you need when they ask; they want to help. You can also reach out to confidential 24/7 services like the Veterans Crisis Line.

Find a support group. Talk to other veterans who have gone through the same kind of trauma that you have. You can access groups through your local VA hospital. Alternatively, you can ask about groups through a local VFW or American Legion. Local Resources.

Veterans who are experiencing or are at risk of experiencing homelessness can access confidential services via chat or phone.

Make a safety plan. Have a step-by-step plan ready for if/when you feel depressed, suicidal, or in crisis, so you can start at step one and continue through the steps until you feel safe. Having a template on hand with an established plan may be helpful, or you can get help and guidance here.

For more resources on supporting a Veteran, including family and friends:


Ft. Meade Community Covenant

Many organizations participated in the signing of the Ft. Meade Community Covenant document recently, to show support for the Ft. Meade military connected community. Army.mil article

Photo courtesy of Ft. Meade Public Affairs

Coast Guard promotion ceremony

MDVA Secretary Anthony Woods attended the promotion ceremony for CDR La'Shanda R. Hawkins, USCG and presented her with a Citation.  Also shown on the left, is Penny Collins who represented the Fleet Reserve Association on the Maryland Veterans Commission.

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 Calendar

September 9, 2023

The Mission Continues Service Project, Baltimore

Out of the Darkness, Carroll County Walk, Woodbine

VA Maryland Health Care System Veterans Creative Arts Showcase, Timonium

September 11, 2023

Project Opportunity: Entrepreneur Training for Spouses of Veterans, Active Duty and Guard Reserve, Takoma Park

16th Annual Yellow Ribbon Fund Army Navy Country Club Golf Classic, Arlington

VETOGA September 2023 Mental Health Challenge starts 9/11

September 12, 2023

Trail Trekkers Inclusive Walking Club, Walkersville

September 13, 2023

Free Yoga Class for Veterans and First Responders, Chesapeake College

Baltimore Military Muster, Reveille Grounds 

September 14, 2023

Veterans and Mental Health: Helping Those Who Have Served, Virtual

Ready, Set, Grow Maryland Procurement Connections Workshop, Hanover

Arthritis Foundation - Arthritis and the Military: The Mental Health-Pain Connection, Virtual

September 15, 2023 

Maryland Department of Labor Job Fair, Woodlawn

Veterans Hiring Veterans Job Fair, Edgewater

POW/MIA Recognition Day 70 for 70 program

September 16, 2023

Blue Star Families Beach Cleanup, Ft. Smallwood Park

September 17, 2023

Travis Manion Foundation Heroes Run, Annapolis

Elks Lodge # 2332 Veterans Cookout, Camp Springs

Out of Darkness Montgomery County Walk, Germantown

September 20, 2023

Frederick County Veterans Advisory Council Public Meeting, Frederick

September 21, 2023

Ft. Detrick Military Retiree Appreciation Day

Veteran/Military Community Resource & Hiring Event, Baltimore

Mental Health First Aid Training: Military, Veterans and Their Families, Baltimore

September 22 & 23, 2023

Second Annual Veteran Owned Small Business Conference, Linthicum Heights Register

September 23, 2023

A Day at Ease, Patriot Pride & Exhibition Fair, Union Bridge, Register

American Legion Post 217 Veterans Event, College Park, More Information

Recovering Warrior Sailing Regatta, Annapolis

September 24, 2023

2023 Gold Star Family Day, Westminster

September 25, 2023

MDVA Women Veterans Quarterly Chat, Columbia & Virtual

September 27, 2023

Operation Green Light Community Outreach Call

September 30, 2023

Crusin' Southern Maryland to benefit Charlotte Hall Veterans Home

Tribute to Our Veterans Motorsports Event, Summit Point, WV

Military Drag Show, Reveille Grounds, Baltimore

Community News

Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating (CRAB) announces Recovering Warrior Sailing Regatta on September 23rd, Annapolis

Veterans Tennis Corps, College Park

Early Bird Tickets available for Baltimore Station's Star, Stripes & Chow fundraiser

The Legacy of Honor Project seeks to honor those who were Prisoners of War and those still missing on National POW/MIA Recognition Day, September 15, 2023.

Flier      More Information

A Day at Ease Flier

Join Blue Star Welcome Week September 23rd to October 1st

More Information

Family Book Clubs:

Aberdeen Library

Discoveries Library, Annapolis

Lexington Park Library

September 16th: Blue Star Families Beach Cleanup, Pasadena

Blue Star Families Coffee Connections at the Naval Academy, Fort Meade, NAS Patuxent Rover and Aberdeen Proving Ground

News from Serving Together:

Community Resources

ServingTogether, a program of EveryMind, was launched in 2011 to coordinate community-based resources for service members, veterans and their families in the MD/NoVa/DC region. Our mission is to make it easier for all those who have served in the Armed Forces, National Guard or Reserves, and their families to access the local services they need. Read More Here To contact the Peer Navigators, please visit www.servingtogetherproject.org and complete the Get Assistance form on the website, or call 1-855-738-7176.

Community Education

ServingTogether works to educate the entire DMV community on the needs of military and veterans in the National Capital Region. Since 2012, ServingTogether staff has been trained to provide Mental Health First Aid workshops focusing on Military, Veterans and their Families. Mental Health First Aid teaches the warning signs of mental illness and addiction, as well as how to help someone experiencing a mental health related crisis. By attending a Military/Veteran Mental Health First Aid, our military and veterans become more aware of the support available in their community and help to break down the stigma associated with mental illness. To date, ServingTogether has trained over 650 Mental Health First Aiders in how to better understand military culture and the unique needs of our military and veteran populations, especially to support improved mental wellness. ServingTogether is funded to provide 4 Military/Veteran Mental Health First Aid workshops per year.

Community Collaboration

ServingTogether helps to coordinate or is members of various Collaboratives, Committees and Councils related to our military and veteran community. We chair 5 community collaboratives which provide an opportunity to network, share, learn and interconnect to other area community providers. To learn more about them, visit: https://servingtogetherproject.org/collaboratives/

News From Baltimore Station:

(Reprinted from Baltimore Station Newsletter)

Dear Stakeholders, Supporters, and Friends,

It is with profound sadness and heavy hearts that we share the news of the passing of our beloved Executive Director, John Friedel. John died unexpectedly from a cardiac event at the age of 60 on July 30, 2023, leaving behind a void that will be deeply felt by all those whose lives he touched. On behalf of The Baltimore Station, we extend our sincerest condolences to his family and friends.

John was an exemplary leader, mentor, and driving force behind The Baltimore Station’s mission. His unwavering dedication to helping veterans struggling with homelessness and substance abuse issues has transformed countless lives. Since joining the organization in 2015, he worked tirelessly to create a supportive environment, where individuals could rebuild their lives and reintegrate into society with dignity and purpose – fully helping homeless veterans turn their lives around.

As we come to terms with this unexpected loss, we want to assure all supporters and friends of the organization that The Baltimore Station remains resolute in its commitment to fulfilling our mission. John’s passion and vision have laid a strong foundation, and we will honor his memory by continuing his important work.

Read entire article here

News from Community Building Art Works:

Horror Writing Workshop -  October 5th (Virtual Fundraising Workshop)

Have you ever wanted to write a scary story? Join horror author and enthusiast Nino Cipri for a crash course in all things creepy, haunted, strange, and spooky on Thursday, October 5th at 7pm EST. Ticket sales for this fundraising workshop will benefit Community Building Art Works programs for veterans, service members, military families, and health care workers. Register HERE 

More Than One Story - Next Virtual Orientation September 12th!

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.

Paint Night with Veteran Artist Natasha Lewis - September 13th (Virtual)

Join Veteran Artist, Natasha Lewis, for a fun paint night as she guides you step-by-step through a classic painting. But if you're feeling inspired, you can customize your painting however you like! No experience necessary. Register for this FREE Workshop HERE, and don't forget to select Wed. September 13th.

Visit www.cbaw.org to learn more about Community Building Art Works. For more information, email info@cbaw.org

Maryland Out of Darkness Walks


Carroll County Maryland Walk, Krimgold Park - Woodbine, MD


Annapolis Walk, Navy Stadium - Annapolis, MD


Montgomery County Maryland Walk, Maryland SoccerPlex - Germantown, MD


Ocean City Walk, Northside Park - Ocean City, MD


Mid-Shore Walk, Idlewild Park - Easton, MD


Hagerstown Walk, Hagerstown City Park, Band Shell - Hagerstown, MD


Frederick Walk, Baker Park Band Shell - Frederick, MD


Southern Maryland Walk, St. Mary's Historic Museum - St. Mary's City, MD


Baltimore Walk, West Shore Park - Baltimore, MD


Havre de Grace Walk, Tydings Memorial Park - Havre de Grace, MD

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.