VET­ER­ANS

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pro­vide in­for­ma­tion on ser­vices to vet­er­ans and their fam­i­lies while also in­tro­duc­ing them to the mu­seum.

“This is the first time we’ve had this kind of event, but we think it’s re­ally a fan­tas­tic pro­gram,” Abell said.

Or­ga­ni­za­tions in at­ten­dance in­cluded the Charles County Health De­part­ment, the South­ern Mary­land Mis­sion of Mercy, the Navy Fed­eral Credit Union, the Mary­land De­part­ment of Hous­ing and Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment, Eze Fam­ily Health Cen­ter and more.

Sue Maska­leris of the Mary­land chap­ter of the Amer­i­can Foun­da­tion for Sui­cide Aware­ness, said sui­cide rates for vet­er­ans are par­tic­u­larly high.

In 2013, the U.S. De­part­ment of Vet­er­ans Af­fairs re­leased a re­port which in­di­cated roughly 22 vet­er­ans die by sui­cide each day. Maska­leris, a vet­eran her­self and the daugh­ter of a vet­eran who died by sui­cide, said it is not just young vet­er­ans re­cently re­turned from war who die by sui­cide.

“A lot of the vets who die by sui­cide, it’s not just the young guys com­ing back from Iraq, it’s the older ones, 40, 50 years old, re­tired; it’s life tran­si­tions, other things,” Maska­leris said. “Sui­cide is a com­plex is­sue.”

Robert Schwartz, se­nior project man­ager, said Hel­mets to Hard­hats is a na­tional non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cated to help­ing vet­er­ans find train­ing and ca­reers in con­struc­tion-re­lated fields.

“We’re a non­profit, we mar­ket for vet­er­ans and help them get into the trades,” Schwartz said. “You get good wages, you can use your GI Bill while you go through your ap­pren­tice­ship, so you get paid while you do your ap­pren­tice­ship, and as your ca­reer pro­gresses … you can climb the lad­der, be­come a project fore­man, a project man­ager, an in­struc­tor, so it re­ally is a ca­reer path, not just a job.”

Vet­eran Chris­tian Downs of Wal­dorf vis­ited the Vet­er­ans Well­ness and Re­source Fair Satur­day morn­ing with his wife. Downs, who served with the U.S. Army from 1999 to 2014, said he heard about the fair and was cu­ri­ous about it.

“I wanted to see what they had for vet­er­ans and what I could ben­e­fit from, see what re­sources they might have for vet­er­ans that I know,” Downs said, adding that he found a lot of use­ful in­for­ma­tion at the fair.

STAFF PHOTO BY JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU

Dahlia Downs of Wal­dorf gets her blood pres­sure checked by Carolyn En­gle­son, a reg­is­tered nurse with the Charles County De­part­ment of Health.

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