Honoring Our Best
In Maryland, veterans make up 8% of our total State population. All over our State, we have major military installations that are vital to our country’s national security — from Fort Meade to Andrews Air Force Base, and from Walter Reed to the United States Naval Academy. In towns like Bethesda, Patuxent River, Waldorf, and Annapolis, veterans and military installations are vital for the U.S. economy, and that means for Maryland’s economy, too.
We owe it to those veterans to improve their lives, and the Gansler administration will be committed to making the lives of veterans and their families better. As Attorney General, Doug ensured that veterans were protected from unscrupulous lenders under the Maryland Consumer Protection Act. As Governor, he will bring that same energy to providing for veterans.
A quote that is often attributed to George Washington reads, “The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.” Regardless of the author, it remains a meaningful and cogent message.
Doug is committing to advance policies that will improve the lives of veterans and their spouses here in Maryland. We must honor their service by making Maryland the most veteran-friendly state in the nation for veterans to work and live.
Supporting Military Families
Military and veteran spouse unemployment is five times higher than the civilian population, and those who are employed earn much less than their counterparts. Military spouses are well-educated and highly qualified for a range of careers, but because of their frequent moves between duty stations, it is difficult for them to stay on a consistent career path. We will pass legislation that allows occupational licensing reciprocity and waivers for military spouses. We can trust our sister states enough to allow military spouses to rely on out of state licenses across industries, provided they do the same for us. We will also extend employer tax credits to businesses that hire military spouses and family members. Finally, in light of the increased availability of telework, we will help military families with technology and internet access that will allow them to telework when they move to Maryland.
Veterans have already earned their benefits, putting their lives on the line for our country. Veterans who have retired from the workforce often leave Maryland because our state income tax pushes them away to states with lower tax burdens. Recognizing that our veterans deserve a safe and financially secure retirement, the Gansler Administration will lead the effort to increase the subtraction modification on military retirement income to $20,000. Such a policy would encourage those on active duty to remain in Maryland and pursue their second careers here. It is a win-win, generating far more income and sales tax revenue for our State and increasing demand for goods and services here in Maryland.
Homelessness does not discriminate. But veterans face some unique challenges when it comes to finding safe and affordable housing. Returning from deployments abroad, they often confront the invisible wounds of war that directly correlate with homelessness. If we are ever going to eradicate veteran homelessness, we must expand programs and housing supervised by the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs. I am committing to increased funding for homelessness programs at the MDVA, ensuring 2020’s HB12 is implemented well, and building more homes for eligible veterans under HB12.
We will effectively address the epidemic of veteran suicide that is rampant across this country. At least 20 veterans die by suicide every day across the country. The Gansler administration will institute a voluntary reduction of access to highly lethal means of suicide policy. That means veterans can opt-in to lists preventing them from purchasing and using drugs and weapons that could lead to suicide. We will also increase the use of veteran treatment courts. As in our criminal justice policy, the Gansler administration will be committed to decriminalizing addiction and treating it as a health issue. We must connect veterans to the benefits and treatment available from state, local and federal programs, and not criminalize suffering.
We must make better efforts to connect our veterans with great training, employment opportunities and all of the resources that Maryland can offer. In particular, we must help disabled veterans get hired, including through employer tax subsidies for disabled veterans. We will ensure that employment discrimination against veterans is not tolerated in Maryland. We will make it easier for veterans to put their talent to work by supporting veteran-owned small businesses and enacting hiring incentives for returning veterans. With the war in Afghanistan now terminated, returning veterans will need our help, and this administration will be committed to their health and success.