Guest blogger Denise Nooe, is Deputy Director of Outreach for the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs
Veterans are certainly aware of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, even if they do not enroll for VA health care or use other VA services. However, did you know that there is also a state agency which assists veterans in Maryland? Every state, the US Territories and some of the Tribal Nations have services for veterans. Services and benefits may vary from state to state, but all offer assistance to their residents who are veterans. Here in Maryland, that agency is the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA).
THE SOLDIERS RELIEF FUND COMMISSION
The roots of the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs trace back to the Soldiers’ Relief Fund Commission, which was formed to administer a state relief fund to disabled World War I veterans. There were a couple of name changes over the years, the role of the Commission expanded beyond just World War I veterans and reported in succession to two different state agencies, until becoming an independent Commission in 1977.
In 1999 the Commission was elevated to a Department and the first Secretary of the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA) was appointed. That first Secretary, Tom Bratton hailed from western Maryland and was a Combat Veteran who was severely wounded while serving in Vietnam.
MDVA'S FIVE CORE MISSIONS
Today, the department has grown, employing 100 staff and providing services under five core missions, or the “five points of the MDVA Star”, as current MDVA Secretary George Owings likes to describe the department.
1. Service & Benefits program assists veterans and dependents with completing forms and filing for benefits such as compensation and pension from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.
2. Charlotte Hall Veterans Home has been ‘serving those who served’ since 1985 and provides assisted living and skilled nursing care to veterans and spouses at a beautiful campus located in St. Mary’s County.
3. Cemetery & Memorials program cares for the final resting place of veterans and their eligible dependents in five state veteran cemeteries, as well as maintaining the Maryland World War II Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Gold Star Families Monument.
4. Maryland Veterans Trust Fund which is a 501c3 organization, is housed within MDVA. The Trust may accept donations and provides grants to qualified veterans.
5. Outreach & Advocacy provides benefits briefings to veterans groups, leads lunch & learns where veterans are employed and provides resource tables at veteran and community events. The goal of the Outreach & Advocacy program is to increase awareness of the department and ensure veterans are aware of the benefits they have earned. A very successful outreach tool for the outreach program is the MDVA e-newsletter. To join the e-newsletter distribution list, visit the MDVA webpage at: veterans.maryland.gov
STAY IN TOUCH!
While I would like to write so much more, space is limited in this blog, so I encourage you to contact us at MDVA with questions or requests for assistance. Please call us on 1-866-793-1577 or email us at: email@example.com
This story is provided by AARP Maryland. Visit the AARP Maryland page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.
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