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