It would act as a sounding board & clearing house for veterans.
Frederick, Md (KM). Plans to establish a local Commission on Veterans Affairs were unveiled by Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner.
During her Thursday morning briefing at Winchester Hall, Gardner said the 13-member panel would provide a forum for the county’s military veterans to voice their issues and concerns. It would also be a one-stop shop for veterans to be connected to the services they need, such as counseling, and information of education and employment.
“We know we have young people returning home from service that may need help and guidance to connect to educational opportunities that are available to them,” she said. “We know that some of brave men and women are experiencing the affects of PTSD–post traumatic stress disorder–and that they and their families may need counseling, medical support and care. And these services are available to them.”
Gardner says a lot veterans and their families may not know what services are available to them. She say the county offers space in the Frederick Senior Center on Taney Avenue for free counseling from the Department of Veteran Administration’s Vet Center, which specializes in mental health counseling for PTSD, anxiety and depression along with substance abuse, bereavement counseling, military sexual trauma counseling and spousal counseling.
She says there are about 17,000 military veterans in Frederick County.
In order to set up this Commission, Gardner says a bill would have to be introduced to the County Council, which would hold hearings and take a vote.
Council President Bud Otis says he hopes to do all that he can for veterans, who face different issues than the rest of the population. “And for us to ignore that is not fair,” he said. “And I want to be very fair to our veterans and make sure they get the best possible treatment.”
The Commission, as proposed by Gardner, would have eight representatives from veterans organizations, such as the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and AMVET, along with two representatives from agencies that serve veterans, and an educator whose familiar with veterans issues. There would also be two members who serve at-large. Ex Officio members would be the Garrison Commander at Fort Detrick, or that person’s designee, a member of the County’s Legislative Delegation to Annapolis, a representative from Frederick Community College and another from Workforce Services.
Each member would be appointed by the County Executive and confirmed by the County Council. They would serve staggered three-year terms.
“I firmly believe that we need to our utmost to insure that our veterans are fully supported, and are connected to the resources they need,” says Gardner.
By Kevin McManus