The panel would provide a one-stop shop for veterans who need services.
Frederick, Md (KM). Testimony was taken Tuesday night by the County Council on a proposed ordinance to set up a Frederick County Veterans Advisory Committee. The bill is sponsored by Council President Bud Otis. “There are over 17,000 military veterans in Frederick County,”: he said. “As the County, we have no comprehensive approach to reaching out to all of them and learning their challenges.”
The legislation, if passed, would set up a 13-member commission to work with established veterans organizations to evaluate and promote new and existing programs and services for veterans and their families in Frederick County. The panel would also create and maintain a “one-stop-shop” website for veterans to find out more about issues such as suicide prevention; PTSD counseling; employment services and job opportunities; veterans benefits; crisis hotline; education; health services; housing; getting out of homelessness; legal services; and veteran readjustment programs. The commission will also issue a monthly bulletin containing news on veterans-related issues.
The Council also heard testimony from veterans who expressed support for the bill. “When I came out, there really was no help for veterans with needs,” said Ernest Muelley, a Vietnam-era veteran. “But not only that, there was no help for family members, the partners, the children, the widows or the widowers of those veterans. And it’s really nice to see this Council coming together and recognizing there’s a real need in this county.”
“This Commission is needed to combat not only veteran suicide, but other issues like addiction,combat stress and homelessness,” said David Perez with Building Veterans. “We need this advisory council to use as a forum voicing from the front line what exactly can be done in the County Council to help our missions as veterans organizations.
Sharon Jacko, a retired Lt. Col. from the US Marine Corps, said the problem isn’t a lack of services, but where to find them. “So as much as we say we have all the services in Frederick, and we do. We have tons of services. We just don’t know where to find them,” she said.
But Jacko reminded the Council not to forget the female veterans. “When you think of the word veterans, you close your eyes and think of males. Many of us do. Yet the female veterans have higher homeless rates, higher suicide rates, and we need to concentrate on that too,” says Jacko.
The County Council is expected to vote on this bill at a later date.
By Kevin McManus