HURLOCK — Secretary of the Maryland Department of Veterans’ Affairs George W. Owings III brought news and encouragement to members of Hurlock American Legion Post 243 on Oct. 15, including the latest word on new medical facilities.
Sec. Owings spoke about the department’s five main programs, one of which is Service and Benefits, providing information and representation to veterans and eligible dependents seeking U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs benefits. Staff can be reached by calling 800-446-4926 ext. 6450.
The Maryland Veterans’ Trust Fund assists vets experiencing temporary financial difficulties. There is money available right now, which should be distributed, he said.
“I don’t need $300,000 sitting in a bank account,” Sec. Owings said. “Go out and find at least one family that is struggling with financial difficulties. That’s what the trust fund is for.”
The Outreach and Advocacy Program informs veterans and the community about benefits and services available from federal, state and local organizations, such as housing, employment, behavioral health and health care.
To reach the Outreach and Advocacy Program, call 410-260-3842, or 410-260-3840.
The department not only distributes help, it also accepts donations — cash is acceptable, but in-kind goods are especially appreciated.
“At Charlotte Hall Veterans’ Home, we don’t want any money,” Sec. Owings said, pointing out that donated money can end up reducing an agency’s budget.
So, items such as equipment or supplies can be useful to the home, which offers 444 beds, with nursing, assisted living, in-house rehabilitation, an on-site pharmacy and dental care for eligible veterans and their spouses. To learn about admissions, call 301-884-8171 ext. 409.
There will be at least one more home in a few years. A 121,000-square-foot, $172 million project on 25 acres in Sykesville is being planned.
Another could be coming to Betterton, in northern Kent County. “We hope to break ground in ’24,” Sec. Owings said.
These operations would help alleviate a shortage of care. “The (U.S.) Veterans’ Administration says we have a deficiency of about 640 veteran beds,” Sec. Owings said.
The department’s Cemetery and Memorial Program manages five state veteran cemeteries and four veteran memorials. With the Eastern Shore Cemetery close to town, the Hurlock Legion’s Cemetery Committee is not only active, it has earned the approval of the secretary, who said, “You have the best one.”
To reach the cemetery, call 410-943-3420.