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Veterans pitch new center for Charles

Southern Maryland News |

Veterans groups in Charles County had an opportunity to share their needs with Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md., 5th) and Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Wes Moore on Monday.

Moore and Hoyer met with representatives from multiple veterans groups during a roundtable event at the Southern Maryland Business Center in White Plains that afternoon.

Representatives from the National Association of Black Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans and other groups were gathered to explain their goals for the future and what assistance they need at the state and federal level.

Mike Moses, a U.S. Navy veteran and state commander for the National Association for Black Veterans, felt that the event was a way for veterans to create their own space to have their voices heard.

“We have created our own table and we got the seats that we wanted and so we’ll be able to move ahead,” Moses told Southern Maryland News.

The group shared their vision for a Veterans Resource Center in the county similar to establishments created in Prince George’s and St. Mary’s counties.

According to a presentation provided at the meeting, the center would provide a base in the county to provide services for veteran issues such as application assistance, counseling and coaching for benefit programs.

The plan calls for either a 7,200- or 20,000-square-foot space, depending on available funding. Either space would include offices for veterans service organizations, virtual and in-person one-on-one counseling and group counseling areas.

The larger 20,000-square-foot plan would also include offices to handle needs such as transportation, post traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse and other critical needs.

Indian Head was chosen as a potential location due to its current revitalization through the opening of the new U.S. Bomb Tech Association headquarters and potential expansion of the nearby Maryland Airport.

Omyni Harrell, founder of The Oasis Resource Center, a resource center for women veterans, said that the center would provide a “holistic” approach to dealing with veteran issues.

“It will deal with childcare, it will deal with having a conversation and understanding that most of our veterans suffer from PTSD,” Harrell said.

The center would also have resources for a veterans court that would provide training to the Charles County Sheriff’s Office in handling veterans with post traumatic stress disorder.

Hoyer called the meeting “excellent” and said that the country had a responsibility to take care of its veteran population, which is set to increase after 20 years of fighting in Afghanistan and other areas.

Moore, who served in Afghanistan as apart of the 82nd Airborne Division, said the meeting was about sharing his commitment to the support of the veterans community.

“Our veteran community here in Maryland is strong, it is vibrant, it is growing and it does not receive the supports that it deserves,” Moore said.

Monday’s roundtable was one of three stops that day for Hoyer and Moore in Charles County which included a business tour in La Plata and a meet and greet event in Waldorf.

Moore is in a crowded Democratic primary race for governor that also includes Rushern L. Baker III, Jon Baron, Peter Franchot, Douglas F. Gansler, Ralph W. Jaffe, Ashwani Jain, John King, Tom Perez and Jerome M. Segal.

Republicans running for Maryland’s governor include Dan Cox, Robin Ficker, Kelly Schulz and Joe Werner.

Twitter: @DarrylSoMdNews