Governor Martin O'Malley, Lt. Governor Anthony Brown Convene "Maryland Forward" Series with Forum for Veterans
CHARLOTTE HALL, MD (March 28, 2011)–Governor Martin O’Malley, Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown and U.S. Congressman Steny H. Hoyer joined local veterans and veteran-serving organizations from around Maryland today at Charlotte Hall Veterans Home for an important discussion on our shared progress on veterans issues and ongoing opportunities for further collaboration to support our troops returning home from service. The Governor toured Charlotte Hall Veterans Home and later led an open discussion among local veterans on issues important to the veteran community.
“One of the most basic and sacred obligations we have is to serve those who have served under our nation’s flag,” said Governor O’Malley. “Maryland veterans face unique challenges and often turn to their neighbors and their government for assistance with reintegrating into the society they fought to defend. We remain committed to working with our veteran community to champion issues that are important to them, including veterans’ behavioral health, career training, and educational opportunities.”
“It is our duty to honor the service and sacrifice of our veterans by providing them with the highest quality benefits and services possible,” said Lt. Governor Brown, a Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves and the highest ranking elected official to have served a tour of duty in Iraq. “Governor O’Malley and I are committed to supporting Maryland veterans, and we have taken significant steps to improve mental health services, provide access to affordable education, increase job and economic opportunities, and enhance the basic services that veterans depend on. But we can always do more for our veterans. We will continue working closely with the veteran community in Maryland to build on our progress and ensure we fully support those who so bravely served our country.”
“It is important that we listen and understand the challenges facing veterans today, and work to identify and meet the needs of our veteran population who have sacrificed so much on behalf of our country,” said Congressman Steny Hoyer. "I want to thank Governor O’Malley and Lieutenant Governor Brown for hosting this forum at Charlotte Hall today, and for their continued commitment to our area’s veterans. Supporting our troops and veterans means taking action to provide them with the resources they need and the benefits they have earned, and I look forward to continuing to work with the O'Malley Administration to ensure that the 76,000 veterans in the Fifth District are provided the quality care and services that they deserve.”
Today’s forum took place at the Charlotte Hall Veterans Home, which was selected as a nationwide pilot for state veterans’ homes for implementation of the VA’s award-winning Computerized Patient Records System.
In 2008, Governor O’Malley signed into law behavioral health legislation requiring the provision of certain services for returning veterans, and has provided $6 million for the Veterans Behavioral Health Initiative to coordinate and provide behavioral health services and transportation for veterans requiring treatment. Over 2,000 veterans and family members have received assistance as a result of this program.
In addition, the O’Malley-Brown Administration provided nearly $3 million in funding for the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Scholarship Program, and in 2010, earmarked $2 million to help get veterans into 50 vacant, foreclosed properties within designated areas of Prince George’s County under a special initiative launched by Lt. Governor Brown.
Following the State of the State address, Governor O’Malley announced a series of “Maryland Forward” local policy forums to advance many of those initiatives, serving as a continuation of the “Maryland Forward” forum series before the 2011 Inauguration. Tomorrow’s forum is the third in a series of smaller groups of local stakeholders throughout the 2011 legislative session focused on specific policy areas that will help Maryland be a winner in the new economy, protect our neighborhoods, and create jobs.