Lt. Governor Brown Announces New Campaign for Veteran Services
Maryland’s Commitment to Veterans Helpline Now Available 24/7
BALTIMORE, Md. (November 10, 2009) – Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown today announced expanded efforts to educate citizens about Maryland’s Commitment to Veterans, a free and confidential service connecting Veterans and their families to the services they deserve. Brown was joined by Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Secretary John M. Colmers, Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs Deputy Secretary Wilbert B. Forbes, Sr. and veterans representing a century of service at War Memorial Plaza.
“As our nation devotes a day to recognize the service of our veterans, Maryland wants our brave heroes to know that we are here to serve them,” said Lt. Governor Brown. “Through Maryland’s Commitment to Veterans, our state is leading the country by ensuring that every Veteran has the resources needed to transition successfully from combat back into the community.”
Maryland’s Commitment to Veterans provides access to a 24/7 staffed toll-free line (1-877-770-4801) through which Veterans and their families can connect with regional resource coordinators serving every county in Maryland. The coordinators work one-on-one with each caller to provide referrals for counseling, housing and job resources, as well as assistance with paperwork and expedited care through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Coordinators will arrange to meet veterans at their homes, when necessary, and are working with communities to improve transportation options. Last week, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene signed an agreement with Delmarva Community Services to provide free transportation to health-related appointments for Eastern Shore veterans.
“We want veterans in every city, town, and rural area of Maryland to have ready, equal access to services and resources that can help,” said Secretary Colmers.
“Veterans of all war eras have served our country with honor and distinction,” said Deputy Secretary Forbes. “We have an obligation o honor their service and sacrifice. Maryland’s Commitment to Veterans provides all of our servicemembers with access to resources and information that will help them transition back into civilian life.”
Studies have found that veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom are more likely to suffer from post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury than veterans of previous conflicts. Moreover, since the start of the war in Iraq, suicide attempts by active duty personnel have increased by more than 600 percent. To combat this alarming data and honor the service of all veterans, the O’Malley-Brown administration has pushed comprehensive reforms that improve veteran behavioral health services and ease the transition from combat back to the community and all veterans and their families.
Since taking office, the O’Malley-Brown Administration has continued to fight for veterans on the home front. In 2008, Brown led efforts to pass the Veterans Behavioral Health Act, which set aside $2.3 million for veterans’ behavioral health services. In 2009, those services were expanded to serve all veterans in all regions of the state. This year, Maryland passed legislation creating the first ever scholarship program for returning veterans, enhanced partnerships to smooth the educational transition for children of active duty service members, expanded the no-interest loan program for small businesses, extended the sales tax exemption for veterans organizations and secured more than $2 million in State and Federal funds for critical reintegration programs.
Last year, the state signed a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to ensure timely access to needed behavioral health services. Under this three-year partnership, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will arrange for behavioral health services and substance abuse treatment through the regional VA medical centers for veterans already enrolled in the VA. For those veterans not already enrolled, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will provide needed behavioral health services until the individuals are enrolled with the VA.
Lt. Gov. Brown, a Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves, is the country's highest-elected official to have served a tour of duty during the current Iraq war. For more information about Maryland’s Commitment to Veterans, visit www.veterans.maryland.gov.