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Veterans View: Continued services available to Carroll County veterans | COMMENTARY

Carroll County has a strong network of services that continue to be available to veterans during the COVID-19 pandemic. Veterans in need can access services such as securing employment, acquiring food security, applying for VA benefits and other services to assist veterans with emergency needs.

Department of Labor

Veterans in Carroll County in need of employment services and resources need not look any further than the Business Employment Resource Center and the Maryland Department of Labor’s Veterans Representative John Veney.

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Although the COVID-19 crisis left many offices empty, Department of Labor continues to provide employment services to veterans remotely. While all veterans have priority at BERC, case management and individualized career services for veterans experiencing significant barriers to employment receive special attention. Eligible veteran spouses and caregivers can also take advantage of the same services.

During these unprecedented times, it is necessary to think outside of the box and become more creative to ensure service to Veterans remains a priority. Maintaining a strong network of services with partners is crucial to the success of Department of Labor’s mission.

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For example, collaborating with BERC as well as other agencies to link veterans to accommodations and assistance (for persons with disabilities), skills and aptitude tests and assessments, interview practice and techniques, virtual job fairs and clubs, one-on-one career counseling, résumé and cover letter critique and assistance, training referrals and workshops and seminars.

In addition to center services, employer and business relationships are just as important. Employment and training opportunities are identified for veterans who meet the qualifications to fill employer vacancies and referrals are provided. Veney is a veteran whobelieves in a team approach that involves coordination from many other entities and organizations with the goal of providing the services and support that Veterans deserve.

Freedom Center

The Freedom Center, the Center for Independent Living serving Frederick and Carroll counties, has been buying hot meals for people with disabilities for the past month. A board member donated $2,000 to help purchase hot restaurant delivery meals to people with disabilities in our community. This communicated the message “you’re not alone, we are thinking of you and want you to stay safe and healthy in your homes.”

Many of those served have underlying health conditions that make going out into the community during the pandemic dangerous. It is difficult to be physically disconnected from family and friends for so long and this donation “treated” our veterans to some good comfort food.

In addition to the private donation, The Freedom Center received supplemental funding through the recently passed Cares Act. The Cares Act funds can be used to help individuals with disabilities remain safely at home during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

The center provides help to individuals with disabilities assistance such as personal protective equipment, life sustaining food, communication equipment, and any training that might be needed to use the provided equipment. For more information call The Freedom Center at 301-846-7811, go to www.freedomcntr.org or email advocate@thefreedomcenter-md.org.

Veteran Services Program

The Veteran Services Program provides guidance and assistance to Carroll County veterans, their dependents and survivors with applying for federal and state benefits. This assistance includes help with application for veteran’s benefits via the system administered by the State of Maryland and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

In order to make the application process more seamless and because every veteran’s situation is unique, the program provides assistance with preparation and processing of various required forms that assist veterans with navigating a sometimes overwhelming system. The program also provides case management services to veterans seeking assistance with connecting to community programs and services. Emergency financial assistance may also be available to qualified Veterans. Walk-ins are not currently permitted. For information, call the Bureau of Aging & Disabilities at 410-386-3800.

John Veney Jr., veteran representative, Maryland Department of Labor, can be reached at john.veney@maryland.gov, 410-386-2849 or 443-699-3790. Lori Fitzell is CARES Act coordinator with The Freedom Center.

On the first Tuesday of each month, the Times publishes as its editorial a Veterans’ View, an opportunity to draw attention to veterans’ issues as well as to inform and educate the community and all veterans about the multitude of available services.

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