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September 13, 2021

VA Secretary McDonough Visits Emerging Vets Center in Frederick

Credit: The Frederick News-Post, Ryan Marshall

Preventing suicides among military veterans is the main priority of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and officials believe a facility under construction in Frederick can help address the problem, VA Secretary Denis McDonough said during a visit to the site Monday.

McDonough was in town to examine the upcoming veterans service center project on Monocacy Boulevard in Frederick with U.S. Rep. David Trone.

The center is a collaboration between Goodwill Industries of Monocacy Valley and the veterans nonprofit Platoon 22. It will offer services to help veterans transition back into civilian society, including help with benefits paperwork, mental and physical health assistance and vocational training.

The facility will seek to help veterans avoid the common problems of homelessness, incarceration, suicide and other challenges that often afflict people returning from deployments overseas. An estimated 22 American veterans die by suicide each day, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Preventing veteran suicides requires a public approach, and everyone has a role to play, McDonough said.

The Platoon 22 project shows those principles and represents a vibrant public-private partnership that can help implement new clinical innovations, he said.

The center continues a long history in the county of putting veterans first, said Platoon 22 founder Danny Farrar.

The facility will provide a holistic approach to helping veterans, addressing multiple issues rather than just ones that flare up from time to time, he said.

Farrar believes the visit McDonough and Trone made validates the work they’ve done.

Veterans are a key part of Frederick County, which is home to 16,000 of them, as is the military installation at Fort Detrick, Trone (D) said.

He said the new facility will be an important piece in serving veterans in the county and the region.

Many local veterans currently have to go to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center or to a VA center in Martinsburg, West Virginia, to get treatment or services.

The Frederick facility will be a “game changer” for local veterans, said Frederick County Council President M.C. Keegan-Ayer (D), who praised Farrar for the work he and his team have done.

“I’ve got to take off my hat to Danny,” she said.