More than 414,000 veterans live in the state of Maryland, enjoying its diverse landscape, historic sites, delicious seafood, and close proximity to the Naval Academy and other important cities in the nation. Maryland veterans and their families have a well-developed support system available to help them access the benefits and services their honorable service has earned them.
If you’re just getting started accessing your VA benefits, or need assistance filing or following up on a claim, the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs Service and Benefits Program provides Veteran Service Officers (VSOs) in communities throughout the state. Statistics show that veterans working with VSOs tend to access more benefits and financial help than those applying alone, and these certified professionals are trained to help veterans and their families understand and navigate the claims process with success. These officers can be found throughout the state at VA medical centers, but also in smaller communities and satellite locations.
The Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA) also supports local county resources for veterans and their families. A number of counties in Maryland have local veterans’ commissions, work groups, and councils designed to support constituents in specific regions of the State. You can review the list of participating counties online or by calling the MDVA at 410-260-3838.
If you are a veteran or family member who is experiencing dire financial circumstances, you may be able to access assistance through the Maryland Veteran’s Trust Fund. The Trust Fund is a 501(c)(3) organization that receives donations from local business and citizens, and then can in turn make loans and grants to veterans in severe need. Loans have helped veterans who become unemployed, are struggling to make their house payment, or are facing unexpected financial hardships. The Fund provides a way for individuals to thank and support U.S. veterans through tax-free donations. For more information and to request an application for the Veterans Trust Fund, veterans can call 800-446-4926, ext. 6460.
Quality health care is always a priority for veterans and their families, and the VA Maryland Health Care System is a nationally recognized, progressive health care organization dedicated to providing quality, compassionate, and accessible care and service to Maryland’s veterans. The Baltimore and Perry Point VA Medical Centers, along with the Loch Raven VA Community Living and Rehabilitation Center, and multiple community-based outpatient clinics, all work together to form this comprehensive health care delivery system.
For senior veterans over the age of 62 and their spouses, the Charlotte Hall Veterans Home may be a good option when searching for long-term care and housing. Located on 126 scenic acres in St. Mary’s County, the veterans’ home offers a range of care in its 168-bed assisted living program, as well as in its 286-bed skilled nursing wing and secure memory-care units. The Home is Medicare/Medicaid certified, undergoes annual inspections from multiple organizations, and works with the VA to ensure all residents receive a per diem subsidy that helps reduce their out-of-pocket cost of care. The home provides on-site medical services such as physicians and a pharmacist, rehabilitation, dentistry, optometry, and podiatry. There is also an onsite certified VA veteran service officer to help with resident benefits and claims, and to assist in the admissions process. They typically do not have a waiting list, but you should contact the home for information on eligibility and admissions at (301) 884-8171, extension 409.
The MDVA also administers a system of five state veterans’ cemeteries located in Cheltenham, Crownsville, Flintstone, Hurlock, and Owings Mills – the largest veteran cemetery program in the nation. A burial plot is provided to eligible veterans and their eligible dependents, when the veteran is a resident of the State of Maryland and has received an honorable discharge. Plots are available on a first-come, first-served basis. There is no cost to the veteran for burial plot, opening/closing, headstone and state liner. The cemeteries are open 360 days a year at 8 a.m. The MDVA also manages three veteran memorials: the Maryland World War II Memorial is in Annapolis, and the Vietnam War and Korean War Memorials are in Baltimore.
Maryland also offers numerous recreational discounts for members of the military, including free lifetime hunting licenses and free fishing licenses for disabled veterans or POWs, and free hunting and fishing licenses for resident active duty. The Maryland Park Service offers an Access MD Pass for free entry to State Parks to individuals with disabilities, and a Golden Age Pass that allows free entry to individuals 62 and older.
If you are a Maryland resident, you may work or have loved ones living in Washington, D.C. The district itself has an additional set of benefits for its D.C. veterans as well. There are numerous support organizations, including 16 Veteran of Foreign War posts, and a special Veterans’ Affairs department within the Mayor’s office. D.C. also has its own VA Medical Center and a National Capital Regional Benefit Office that helps veterans and their families access their benefits.
For a full list of Maryland veteran benefits, visit the MDVA website.
Written By Megan Hammons