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Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz

Flag Day Celebration and Veterans Resource Fair
June 13, 2015

Good morning, and thanks for being here. I especially thank Maryland Secretary of Veterans Affairs George W. Owings, Congressman John Sarbanes, Baltimore County Health Officer Dr. Gregory Branch, the Baltimore County Homefront Work Group, and of course, our veterans and their families and friends for joining us today.

From coast to coast and beyond our shores, the American flag flies high as a symbol of liberty, opportunity and hope. Whether in front of the County Courthouse or at our embassies around the world, the flag stands for all the great things our nation has to offer. It reminds us of the legacy left to us by our founding fathers and all the veterans who have sacrificed so much to protect our freedom.

And so every June 14th, Americans celebrate Flag Day to commemorate the adoption of “the Stars and Stripes” as our nation’s flag in 1777. It’s worth noting that, this year, June 14th also marks the 240th birthday of the United States Army!

Baltimore County is proud to officially celebrate our nation, our flag and our veterans today by hosting this event sponsored by the Office of Housing and Family Self Sufficiency and the Homefront Work Group.

Our veterans come from all walks of life – they are our friends and neighbors, our husbands and wives, our sons and daughters; and despite their diverse backgrounds, all the brave men and women who serve in our Armed Forces and Reserves share a common quality – the courage to answer the call to service.

We can never truly repay the debt we owe our veterans. Perhaps the most important things we can do are welcome them back to civilian life with open arms, help to smooth their transition, and provide them with the support and resources they need to succeed. This is why Baltimore County partners with the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs and the Veterans Administration on an array of programs and services to help our veterans thrive.

Baltimore County maintains the Homefront website, which provides veterans and their families with easy access to information on all the resources available to them in a place where they can always find it – the Internet. Information from the Homefront website and members of the Homefront work group are located here today if any of our veterans require any information or assistance.

Recently, members of Baltimore County’s Homefront Work Group assisted the Department of Veterans Affairs with the planning and implementation of “Operation Hire,” a seminar for employers interested in hiring veterans that attracted 89 businesses and was deemed a great success by all.

Sometimes our veterans need help with more than just finding a job or locating the benefits available to them – as statistics show, many veterans desperately need housing. The nationwide Point-in-Time Count for 2014 (PDF) revealed that nearly 50,000 veterans experienced homelessness on a single night in January of last year, and according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, about 12 percent of the U.S. adult homeless population are veterans.

In an effort to right this grave wrong, Baltimore County’s Office of Housing partners with the Department of Veterans Affairs on the U.S. Department of Urban Development Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing, or HUD-VASH, Program, which provides housing vouchers to homeless veterans in our communities.

Combined with case management from the VA and Baltimore County’s veterans Family Self-Sufficiency Program, the rental assistance received from HUD-VASH is a critical component to assisting homeless veterans secure affordable housing and begin their path to self-sufficiency.

Since 2008, Baltimore County has been awarded hundreds of VASH vouchers, including 47 over the past year, and already, this program and its accompanying support services have yielded many Baltimore County success stories, such as:

 The homeless, unemployed veteran and single parent who received a VASH voucher in 2012 and went on to obtain employment, pay off his bills, fix his credit, and provide a better life for his seven year-old daughter.

 Another unemployed, homeless veteran who received a VASH voucher in 2012 and went on to earn his GED and, just this month, a degree from the Community of Baltimore County. This veteran will be attending Towson University in the fall, with the goal of becoming a substance abuse counselor.

And then there’s the homeless, under-employed Baltimore County veteran who received a VASH voucher in 2011 and went on to land a full-time position and be promoted twice, which is now helping him pay off his creditors. This veteran is currently attending first-time homeownership classes and plans to purchase his own home at the beginning of next year.

You see – a place to call home…education and training…steady employment – everyone needs these things to live a full life. And it is our job to ensure that our county’s veterans have access to these basic building blocks for self-sufficiency. It is our duty to honor their service and sacrifice by serving them in any way we can. It’s not just our duty – quite simply, it’s the right thing to do. Thank you.

 
Revised July 18, 2016         

 

Contact

County Executive,
Don Mohler
Phone: 410-887-2450

Contact the County Executive.

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