For Veterans in Need of Mental Health Care, a New Line to Help

By Ann E. Marimow
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 6, 2008

With Veterans Day fast approaching, Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) has announced the creation of a mental health information and help line for veterans and their families. The county is spending $40,000 for the service, which will begin taking calls Nov. 17 and will be run by the Mental Health Association of Montgomery County.

Leggett unveiled the service at the group's annual legislative breakfast last week in Rockville and released a report from the Community Foundation of the National Capital that identified the needs of the county's veterans.

Of the nearly 43,000 military members and veterans in the region who have "ever deployed" or are currently deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq, more than 6,000 are from Montgomery and Prince George's counties.

The report found that the types of injuries these have experienced require longer and more specialized care, in addition to help for their families.

"We should welcome them home and at the same time make certain that they are provided with care and services due them," said Leggett, a Vietnam War veteran.

County Council members unanimously backed Leggett's plan in July to create a commission dedicated to Montgomery's veterans. The Commission on Veterans Affairs will convene a regional conference in 2009 to coordinate services for veterans, plan the county's Veterans Day celebration and recommend an "appropriate memorial" for county veterans.

The 11 panel members will serve three-year terms and join the more than 1,000 commissioners who are appointed by the executive to the county's 87 boards and commissions.

The Capital of Maryland? Today, It's Gaithersburg.

Fresh from this week's election, in which they teamed up to sell the slots proposal to Montgomery voters in robo-calls, County Executive Isiah Leggett and Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) are scheduled to appear today in Gaithersburg for the latest in the governor's series of "Capital for a Day" events.

Leggett plans to attend O'Malley's morning Cabinet meeting and then join Gaithersburg Mayor Sidney A. Katz for a news conference at the City Hall Concert Pavilion.

Leggett Says Trip Boosted Trade With South Korea and China

County Executive Isiah Leggett has declared his 10-day trade mission to South Korea and China last month a success. In Korea, the governor of Chungbuk Province pledged to invest $2 million in an incubator facility planned for a new science and technology park in the eastern county along Route 29.

In China, Leggett signed informal agreements with local leaders to strengthen economic relationships and visited the headquarters of the Beijing-based JOINN Laboratories, which announced the opening of its first U.S. office at the new Germantown Innovation Center.

Leggett was joined by a delegation of 20 county business owners and executives, in addition to local and state economic development staff members.

Council President Michael Knapp (D-Upcounty) had questioned the timing of the trip, which cost about $38,000, when the county is facing a projected $250 million budget shortfall for fiscal 2010 and is likely to furlough employees for at least two unpaid days.

Leggett said in announcing his results that in light of the economic uncertainty, "we must also work harder than ever to ensure we retain and help grow our existing business base."

Two Members Named To Board of Appeals

Montgomery County Council members have tapped a Silver Spring lawyer and a former Garrett Park mayor to join the County Board of Appeals. Walter S. Booth, a general litigation lawyer since 1983, was appointed to a four-year term. He was a member of the Mid-County Citizens Advisory Board from 2001 to last year and replaces Wendell M. Holloway.

Carolyn Shawaker, the former mayor and a former high school teacher, was appointed to serve out the term of Caryn Hines, who resigned. Shawaker is also a past president of the Montgomery County Chapter of the Maryland Municipal League.

Booth and Shawaker, both Democrats, join the five-member board that reviews many land-use and zoning cases and hears appeals of some administrative decisions by county agencies. Board members attend weekly hearings and receive $13,802 a year.

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