Increase the visibility of the Maryland VA and allow them to more actively place unemployed veterans in jobs.
Increase tax benefits to retired and active duty veterans.
Streamline transition into Maryland of veterans redeployed to this state along with their spouses and dependents.
Expedite in-state status for Maryland schools.
Make it easier to transfer professional licenses across state lines.
The military has long sought to provide a path to upward mobility for those who serve their country. Unfortunately that pathway has not always functioned as it should, leaving many veterans in poverty and without efficient access to healthcare. Many of these issues concern the Department of Veterans Affairs at the federal level, but the Maryland equivalent can and should expand its offerings to make up for any failures at the federal level. People who volunteered or were drafted and risked their lives for our country should not be forgotten by the government.
The Maryland VA should have the staff to reach out and adequately advertise their services to veterans and their families. The Maryland VA is able to connect veterans to federal services and inform them of the Maryland programs and laws that benefit them. This department should be expanded and given the budget that it needs to make sure all veterans who need their services know about them and can access them. We should expand the remit of the Maryland VA to include more active job seeking and placement for those veterans who need help finding civilian work.
In addition to this, Maryland should expand some of the benefits it currently gives to veterans. Maryland veterans can currently exempt a share of their retirement benefits and overseas active duty pay from Maryland income taxes. We will increase that cap. Active duty soldiers are often not paid enough and we should be making the retirement of our veterans as easy as possible. Alongside these financial issues I would seek to make the transition into this state of veterans deployed to Maryland as fast and as seamless as possible. That would mean expediting residency status for those seeking to enter state schools at any level and those seeking a professional license.
The military can and should be a road to the middle class and financial security. Maryland has a role to play in helping those who have served this country to be more stable. Until the federal government can adequately run the VA and make sure that our veterans are healthy and secure in their futures then Maryland should step up to help veterans lead the decent lives they fully deserve.
99 Veteran Poverty Trends. Washington, D.C.: The National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics, for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. May 2015, p. 3.
100 Veterans State Benefits and Services Guide. Annapolis, MD: Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs, April 2015.