12 January 2024 MDVA News and Announcements

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Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs

News and Announcements  -  January 12, 2024


Message from Secretary Anthony Woods:

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Dear Friends -

The start of a new year is often marked by transition and that is true here at the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs. Earlier this week, Deputy Secretary Robert Finn retired from his full-time position to enjoy more time with family. 


Bob has served the nation and Maryland well. He served as a squad leader with the 173rd Airborne in Vietnam, as an officer in the Maryland National Guard reaching the rank of Colonel, as a Maryland State Trooper, and served two tours in the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs. I was incredibly fortunate to have Bob by my side since day one and have never seen a more selfless advocate for veterans and members of the MDVA team. 

One MDVA accomplishment he often proudly mentions is the establishment of the MDVA Outreach and Advocacy Program which helps to reach veterans across the state and produces this newsletter.  

Bob will continue serving part-time as a Senior Advisor helping to advance completion of the Veteran Retirement Home in Sykesville which he and former Secretary Owings championed over many years.  

The Deputy Secretary role is as challenging as it is dynamic and the department has been blessed with exemplary public servants willing to dive into the job like Bob and the late Rick Lane. With that, I’m happy to announce that Ross Cohen has been appointed to the Deputy Secretary position. Ross, a native of Rockville, MD, is a U.S. Army veteran with a combat deployment to Afghanistan. He graduated with a BA from Brown University and an MPA from Princeton University. Prior to his appointment, Ross worked for Blue Star Families where he served as Chief External Affairs Officer.

Please join me in thanking Bob and welcoming Ross.



Bob's luncheon

Secretary Woods thanks Deputy Secretary Bob Finn for his service to the Department at a luncheon held this week.

Both Flags at Half Staff


The Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA) will hold four dignified burial ceremonies for unaccompanied veterans who honorably served our nation. 

Secretary Woods stated, "It is our solemn responsibility to support Maryland Veterans and it is our honor to be able to provide a final recognition and a dignified resting place to those who served our state and nation. We are grateful to the partnership we have with the Maryland Anatomy Board to make sure no Veteran is left behind or left unaccompanied".

All ceremonies will be held on Friday, January 26, 2024


Eastern Shore Veterans Cemetery - 9:00 a.m.

(6827 East New Market Road, Hurlock, MD 21643)

Sherwood Dykes - USAF - AB - 12/29/72-7/19/74

David Wells - Navy - DKSN - 5/27/47-3/26/51


Crownsville Veterans Cemetery - 11:00 a.m.

(1122 Sunrise Beach Road, Crownsville, MD 21032)

Robert L. Forsythe Jr. - Navy - HT3 - 4/28/81-4/13/90

Anthony P. Crawley - USCG - SN - 8/30/60-8/28/64

Cecil J. Regan Jr. - Navy - CT3 - 7/5/60-7/11/66

Margaret A. Hofler - USAF - CAPT - 11/11/65-7/31/75


Garrison Forest Veterans Cemetery - 1:00 p.m.

(11501 Garrison Forest Road, Owings Mills, MD 21117)

Bertrum Williams - Army - PVT - 8/20/70-12/10/70

Lee Greene - Army - PV1 - 9/5/76-10/29/76

Otis Lott - ARNG - PV2 - 2/17/74-6/1/79

Kristine Thomas - Navy - DK3 - 6/30/67-3/2/73

Allen Amerson - USAF - A!C - 8/16/54-12/6/57

James Blaylock - Army - SP4 - 2/29/68-10/2/70


Rocky Gap Veterans Cemetery - 1:00 p.m.

(14205 Pleasant Valley Road, NE, Flintstone, MD 21530)

Lindorfe Ferrera - USAF - A3C - 1/23/61-6/5/62


All are welcome to attend the ceremonies which will include an honor guard and brief remarks by Department personnel. The events will take place rain or shine, standing room only.  For more information, please call 410-923-6981.

Women Veterans Listening Session

MDVA Website

Mr. Diggs

Recently, MDVA staff and Maryland Department of Labor staff met with Mr. James Diggs, a Korean War Veteran and former Prisoner of War.  Mr. Diggs story is compelling and it was an honor to talk with him about his capture and 30 months in captivity.

From left to right are: Mr. Gary Diggs, son of Mr. James Diggs and also a Veteran, Phil Munley, Director of the MDVA Service & Benefits program, LeRoy Thomas, Veterans Program Manager, Maryland Department of Labor, Mr. James Diggs, Ex-POW, Denise Nooe, MDVA Deputy Director of Communications, Outreach & Advocacy, and Matthew Gribble, a Midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy.

Rocky Gap Veterans Cemetery

Rocky Gap Veterans Cemetery following the storm this week.

State Partner News

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

Maryland Flag Waiving


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.


1/16/2024 - How to do Business with Montgomery County
1/16/2024 - Access to Capital for Your Small Business
1/17/2024 - Business Plan & Cash Flow Projections
1/23/2024 - T.I.P.S. Webinar Series: Doing Business with the State of Maryland
1/24/2024 - A Fresh Twist on Marketing
1/25/2024 - T.I.P.S. Webinar Series: Mastering Your Website for Business Success

Check out the full listing of small business events online at


Spotlight on Education: University of Maryland College Park

The University of Maryland College Park offers services to student Veterans: Read More Here

News from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources:

Waterfowl Hunting Day for Youth, Veterans, and Military

Maryland’s youth hunters, veterans, and military personnel can experience the excitement of this season’s second special waterfowl hunting day, Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024. A previous hunting day was held in November. The bag limit for this hunting day is the same as regular season with a few exceptions.  Read more.

State Nears Half a Million Trees Planted Toward 5 Million Goal

More than 180,000 trees were planted in Maryland in 2023 as part of the initiative, bringing the total number to 471,890 trees, according to Maryland Department of the Environment data. The plantings are part of a multi-agency effort by state government, community programs, and individuals. The goal was launched after the General Assembly passed the Tree Solutions Now Act of 2021. Read more.

Share Your Flood Photos on MyCoast Maryland

DNR recently launched the new MyCoast Maryland app that enables people to easily upload photos of flood conditions in their neighborhood during or after major rain events and tidal flooding.
The flood photos that residents share on the app help scientists at DNR and other government agencies in Maryland understand the extent of flooding in certain areas, compare pre-storm or pre-high tide flooding estimates with actual effects, and plan long-term mitigation projects to reduce flooding. Read more.

News from the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation:

The Homeowners’ Tax Credit provides relief for eligible homeowners by setting a limit on the amount of property taxes that are owed based on their income. Residential property owners who complete a one-time application and meet certain eligibility requirements can also receive a Homestead Tax Credit, which limits their principal residence’s taxable assessment from increasing by more than a certain percentage each year regardless of their income level. Although statewide legislation caps the increase at no more than 10% per year, many local governments have capped property taxes at lower percentages.

2024 Session of the Maryland General Assembly has Convened

The Maryland General Assembly is currently meeting in Annapolis for the 2024 Legislative Session.  As a service to the veteran community, information on proposed legislation of possible interest to veterans is provided below:

2024 Legislative Information

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

Maryland General Assembly Website

Federal Partner News

Federal News

VA can help you navigate the home loan process

VA Emergency departments ready for growing population of older Veterans

Embrace the new year with the Caregiver Support Program

Congress Increases SDVOSB Prime Contracting Goal to 5%

Safe settings and trusted care for women Veterans

Live Whole Health #202: Preparing for the New Year

Live Whole Health #302: Embrace the winter sun

PTSD Monthly Newsletter

January is National Human Trafficking Prevention Month

OSHA provides information on working in cold weather

CFPB to distribute nearly $6 to consumers harmed by predatory loans to Veterans

Scholarships for Military Children opens applications for 2024-2025 academic year

Apply to host VA-recognized 2024 Regional Veterans Day Observance

Baltimore National Cemetery

Secretary Woods visited the Baltimore National Cemetery in December.  From left to right are Paula Reisz, Unit 109 Chaplain, Eric Warthen, North Central Region Commander, Wild Bill Ganz, Post 109 Adjutant, Secretary Woods and Darrell Truesdale, District 4 Commander. 

Photo courtesy of the American Legion

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.

Niki with Proclamation

Niki Falzone, who served in the Marine Corps is the Executive Director of the Platoon 22 Veteran Service Center in Frederick. She was recently honored by Governor Moore in a citation which reads: 

"Greetings, be it known, because of your demonstration of high integrity and ability, meriting our great trust and respect, we are more than pleased to award you the Governors Citation in appreciation of your outstanding services to the citizens of this state."

Community Calendar

January 16, 2024

JobZone Job Fair, Patuxent River, both in-person and virtual

January 17, 2024

VA Wellness Wednesday Financial Education

January 18, 2024

Maryland's Commitment to Veterans Monthly Workshop: Innovations in Suicide Risk Screening, Assessment and TreatmentRegistration

JobZone Job Fair, Upper Marlboro, both in-person and virtual

January 19-21, 2024

Small Business Administration Baltimore Metro Women's Business Center Accelerate to Success; Barbara A Robinson Entrepreneurial Mentoring Program January 19 -21, 2024. More Information.

January 27, 2024

Women Veterans Meet & Greet, North East

The Mission Continues Baltimore Platoon MLK Day of Service, Baltimore

February 14, 2024

Show Your Love Veterans Valentine's Day event, Washington, DC

February 17, 2024

24th Annual Buffalo Soldiers Memorial Banquet, Baltimore

Community News

The Mission Continues Baltimore Platoon is seeking volunteers for a MLK Day of Service on January 27th at the Filbert Street Garden in Curtis Bay.  Read More Here

Mission Beelieve's Intro Beekeeping Course is opening for Spring 2024. The course is offered virtually through Zoom. 

Learn More about the Baltimore Veterans Treatment Court and volunteer to be a Mentor

Harford County offers Rental Assistance for Veterans & Veteran Households

The Maryland Center for Veterans Employment & Training (MCVET) offers services to Homeless Veterans and Workforce Development programs , More Information

TALMAR is offering farming internships to Veterans

JTCC Adaptive Tennis Program offers tennis opportunities for Veterans, active duty service members and their families

The Montgomery County Commission on Veterans Affairs is celebrating Black History Month by honoring Montgomery County Residents who served in the U. S. Armed and Uniformed Services. Learn More Here and Submit a Tribute

News from Project Opportunity

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

Veteran Training in Montgomery County, Takoma Park

Veteran Training in Prince Georges County, Largo

Veteran Training in the Eastern Shore Region, Snow Hill and Salisbury

Spouses of Veterans, Active Duty and Guard/Reserve Personnel Training, Havre de Grace

News from Community Building Art Works

Brain Doodles: Neuroart to Calm the Mind - Wednesday, January 24th at 7pm EST (Virtual)

Join Artist, Angie Ebba to learn about a free-form way of doodling to calm the mind. In this workshop we will learn about this form of art and create our own mindful doodles.This workshop is a creative exploration; no prior artistic experience needed! Bring any materials you have available to you. Register HERE.

Military Spouses, Caregivers & Veterans Writing Workshop - 1st & 3rd Thursdays at 3:30pm EST (Virtual)

Join author Laura Van Prooyen on the first and third Thursdays at 3:30pm EST to learn how to use writing as a tool to communicate, self-discover, and reflect in our series in partnership with Blue Star FamiliesRegister at https://bsfcbaw_writing.eventbrite.com.

Poetry as Intimacy with the World with Brandon Wint -  January 18th at 7pm EST (Virtual)

In this workshop with Canadian poet and spoken word artist Brandon Wint, we will explore the varied ways that the acts of thinking, feeling and writing poetically create opportunities to experience the world more attentively and intimately. We will use the possibilities of language as a means of prompting new intimacies within the scope of our daily lives. Register HERE.

More Than One Story - Next Virtual Orientation January 9th

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.

At ServingTogether we provide local veteran resources, information and services to Active Duty service members, Veterans, Family members and Caregiver in the DMV region. We do this through Coordinated care, Community education and our Collaborative. Below you will find some information on all three approaches of care and outreach

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. 

We are affiliated with a larger network of coordinated care, with the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) initiative called AmericaServes. We are one of 18 communities throughout the United States serving as a hub of health and human service related providers. The goal is to help reduce down the number of times a veteran or military-connected individual has to get bounced around to different providers or lost in seeking to find the right resource. This also allows us to be connected to a broader community of providers throughout the United States, and refer veterans to the closest provider to their community.

ServingTogether’s Peer Navigators connect service members, veterans, their family members and caregivers, regardless of rank, service era or discharge status, to specific resources to best fit their needs. From benefits and education assistance to financial, health care, legal and employment resources, ServingTogether’s staff connects military and veterans with opportunities and resources they may not even be aware of in the area.

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.

We are also connected to various experts in the region and can work to coordinate a workshop or training to meet the needs of providers and community stakeholders in the National Capital Area.

Visit www.ServingTogetherProject.org for upcoming events, information, helpful guides & checklists, and more. Sign up for our weekly newsletter that highlights events and information pertinent to the veteran population in the National Capital Region.

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/

Pilot, Prisoner, Soldier, Spy

Arthur Shreve

Here is the fourth installment of the story of Colonel Arthur Shreve, written by his granddaughter, Heather Shreve.

Part IV: Soldier to Survivor:

Arthur, now 98 pounds, prepares to abandon ship and peers down to the waters of Subic Bay from the deck of the Oryoku Maru. With shoes draped around his neck and his few belongings, he contemplates the 55-foot drop, four stories, holds his nose and jumps. In his diaries he writes he plunged fifteen feet below the surface and… ‘my impact with the water was so great that my pistol belt became unhooked and I lost my canteen and mess kit…”


Once surfaced, he considers escape but quickly realizes swimming for shore (a third of a mile away) is the only option. Near the beach in shallow waters, the Japanese on shore open up machine gun fire on the POWs they think haven’t come directly from the ship. Stunned, Arthur urges everyone to shore…

Arthur looks back at the burning ship. POWs are still on board, so he grabs a piece of floating hatch cover and paddles “Hawaiian” style back to the ship where Japanese are herding, pushing, and shooting POWs unwilling to jump. Arthur urges the men who can’t swim to jump. Four men do, and Arthur pushes them back to shore clinging to the hatch cover.

While he’s out there, he grabs another canteen and mess kit. From shore, they watch the ship go down…

After a brief respite and water from one spigot, the Japanese herd the remaining prisoners onto the Subic Bay Naval Station’s tennis court where they languish in the broiling sun. Arthur rations water from his canteen to men with fevers first. Things are so dire that COL Schwartz, another senior medic/surgeon, is amputating a young marine’s arm with a razor blade.

After five days, they are only issued three level mess spoons of uncooked rice each day. With Engelhart as interpreter, Arthur insists Japanese Command give the men more food, water, and clothes, as many are nearly naked.  

On Christmas Eve, (1944 ) after a brief stay in San Fernando prison, the POWS are moved to the train station―190 men crammed into train cars meant for 80. The Japanese strap the sickest POWs to the train roof. Riddled with bullet holes from the US Navy, it’s the only way the POWs receive oxygen.

Arthur and the survivors are placed on the Enoura Maru in the Lingayen Gulf and finally receive food of some substance. On January 9, Arthur reports in his diary that David Babcock sits on his right and LT Roberts on his left when the attack comes…bombed again by the US Navy.

The ship’s hull crumples like paper and shatters into chards of steel, shearing men in half. Babcock has a serious chest wound and Roberts is decapitated. The top deck falls to the second deck killing 300 dead and wounding 250 more. Arthur, unscathed, helps Babcock and others to safety as sea water rushes in. 

The last 800 POWs are put on a third ship―the Brazil Maru. Out at sea, it's snowing and below deck, POWs are freezing on cold steel huddled together under one grass mat issued for every four men. Arthur and Johnny maintain order and parse out their meager rations. Arthur writes checks to acquire medicine for Babcock, Marshall Hurt, and others.

Babcock is deteriorating so Johnny trades his West Point ring with a Japanese guard for one more grass mat. Regardless, Arthur wakes to find Babcock thing. – He gathers his personal effects as well as all the effects of all his friends and puts them in a Red Cross box.

For the next seven months my grandfather is imprisoned at Camp Fukuoka (Japan) and then Jinsen, Korea doing menial work for a worker's ration. He uses glasses from the deceased to sew buttons on cheap Japanese clothing and scrubs floors. At one point, COL North tells Arthur there is no medical reason he should still be alive.

In May 1945, Bill uses their secret communications to unearth the diaries in Cabanatuan. Back in San Francisco, he transcribes them for the War Department.

After the bombs at Nagasaki and Hiroshima, the Japanese commander at Jinsen surrenders to Arthur. Family legend adds that he handed over his samurai sword as well. On September 7, 1945 Arthur and less than 350 men are evacuated from Korea along with the effects of his fallen brothers―Ganahl, Babcock, Hurt, Lightfoot, Lindsay, and so many more.

Before Arthur arrives on the West Coast, he sends flowers to Julia with a simple note: ‘From the boy whose only joy is loving you..,” a line from a favorite song Remember Me. After a medical evaluation, he calls Julia from San Francisco. They decide to meet in the middle at their favorite hotel, the Palmer House in Chicago. What a reunion that must have been!

Arthur walks across the threshold at Our Decision farm October 25, 1945―four years to the day. After a brief rest, Arthur goes back to work for the army…

To be Continued…

For more photos and information

Ship photo

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.