Meeting Minutes for May 4, 2011

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UVLC Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Major General Rick Nash: The mission of the guard is to provide an agile and resilient citizen soldier who is able to respond to federal, state and local demands.  Support is need in and era of draw down forces and the draw down of budgets.  Six areas were laid out for our leaders.  One to provide a ready and competent force, create an optimal force structure.   Foster and grow diversity in our forces in the state of Minnesota.  How we advance a environmentally infra structure in those facilities.  How we grow beyond the yellow ribbon.  Enhance or grow our ability to respond to a cyber attack.  We have the equipment on hand to respond to any demand for events in Minnesota.  Currently there are about 14,000 citizen soldiers serving.  40% of the returning soldiers have concerns about jobs when they return.  Programs have been established to ensure that jobs are available upon their return. 

Secretary of State Mark Richie:  Most think that the Secretaries office as one that deals with elections, but two thirds of the work deals with business.  60,000 Minnesotans file, but beyond that there are 500,000 businesses use our services.  Our offices maintain records on businesses dating back 150 years.  Veterans have the drive and ideas to start there own businesses.  They create the new economy.  We are in the process of asking the legislature to get more information on veterans so we can inform them of the programs available.  Cyber attacks have shut our system for four days in a row from china.  Our techs have worked all day each day to put the system back up.  Business identity theft is something that we work on each day to prevent them from having their information used by those who want to steal product and credit information.  A flyer on the civil war program to be held on the capital grounds was given out.  We work to make sure that WWII will not be a one line statement on our history books.  It is important that we pass down to future generations what has happened in our past so that the sacrife that others have made is never forgotten.
MN Dept of Veteran Affairs-Commissioner Larry Shellito:  Commissioner visited around the state at various veterans functions.  An attempt is being made to compile the stories of our veterans past in the form of oral history.  Our budget may be reduced by legislator this year.  If those cuts happen one veteran’s home would have to be shut down.  It is important that we keep informed of what is happening in the omnibus committees.

MN Military Affairs – Lt COL Sandy Best/Annette Kyper:  A flyer was given out that listed all of the guard deployment ceremonies were listed.  Annette talked about the Yellow Ribbon outreach.  There are twelve area coordinator located around the state to help with the program at the local level.  Family surveys were given out to over 17,000 surveys.  These surveys give us an idea of the need of our veteran families.  The top three items were employment, members education benefits and general support to families. 

MN Assistance Council for Veterans (MACV)- Kathy Vitalis:  MACV bills in the omnibus bills so we have to watch our bills.  VISN 23 asked that Kathy attend and give them information on how MACV fills the gaps that other services miss.  Minnesota is one of the states that has a MACV while many of the other states do not.  New positions were being developed by the various VAs and the information shared was invaluable.  We are all partners of MACV.  One of the things that happened was the commissioner and the secretary of state attending various meets which is so important to the veterans being served.  Kathy and Representative Walz met to discuss some of the changes that are ongoing.  The Ramsey County home is open with two veterans in the new home.  They are also looking for a new home for female veterans.  Other grants are in the works with fifty five letters of support.  Building forty seven is getting a face lift.  Partnerships are so important and MACV could not due what we do without your partnership.

Military Action Group (MAG) – Jerry Kyser:  House and Senate member that attend the MAG meeting help us to have a direct input.  MNDOT is not doing their part to help with veteran owned business.  100 percent disabled property tax exemption is moving forward which will give more veterans and those who take care of them this benefit.  Honor flight went well again with many enjoying another great day.  Thanks to those who attended their return at the airport.  The next flight is already full.

Army Reserve Retirement Services Office – LTC Kathleen Couillard:  This is a new office recently opened to help serve the retirement issues for our reserve veterans who retire from the reserve.  612-408-6474 is the contact phone number.

VA Regional Office – Director, Peter Panos, PAO: 170,000 veterans are receiving compensation and pension benefits.  Also 180,000 widows, children and parents are receiving some sort of compensation.  That totals to about 139 million dollars brought into our state.  The process of accepting a new claim use to have six steps now it has been updated to only two steps which should increase the response time for claims.  Region office moves are ongoing except the regional office will not be moving.  E-benefits account is an important tool for our veterans to use to get personnel information.  If you need help getting on the E-benefit call Peter at 612-970-5023.  All paper checks are going away in 2013.  Direct deposit will be needed to those who have checks all new claims are already happening.  Agent Orange claims are moving quicker due to the system being used.  Claims are not hand outs.  All veterans have earned their benefits.  There are many web sites to help with finding out what a veteran is entitle to is one of those sites.

VISN 23 –Janet Murphy- Director VISN 23:  A handout was given out.  Research is going on daily within the VA to help our veterans.  PTSD coach is a new program that can be used their smart phones to contact a councilor. Smart phones will give the veteran a direct access to their information. Allergy information is available on you VA record.  New program called REACH health care for direct contact for families to get information to help in the care of their loved ones.  Out-reach is a very important aspect of the VA.  The Secretary visited and many topics were covered.  Our budget this year is OK, but future budget might be in trouble.  Care giver support program applications will be take starting this month. 
Mpls VA Medical Center – Steve Kleinglass-Director: A group was formed to study the clubs problems. The club wasn’t breaking even so that is why it was closed.  Also there were renovations that needed to be done.  At this time no one wishes to take over the facility.  The WWII trip to DC used chairs from the VA and Jerry Kyser thanked the VA for their use.

St Cloud VA Medical Center – Rose Blesener: Annual report was given out.  Monday May 16th the new ambulatory surgery clinic will open with surgeries beginning some time in June after certification.  The budget doing fine for this year.  Claim service exams are running at 17 days currently.

Ft Snelling Cemetery – Jim Schweizer: Memorial Day Ceremony will be at 10:00 AM on Monday 30 May.  Statistics for April are as follow; Total Interments 398, Cremations 165 and Columbarium 45.  Total Interments this fiscal year 2555, Caskets 1247, Cremations 1037 and Columbarium 271.  Femal Veteran total 1518, this month 4.  War Period WWII 97, Korea 54, Viet Nam 46, Persian Gulf 3, Peace Time 16, Iraq 1, Dependents 181.  The Rifle Squad Honors 197 this month and 57913 since inception.

Vets Employment & Training Service [VETS] – Earl Brown Center job fair 520 registered for the event.  Some of those present were hired to work in the oil fields in North Dakota.

Vets Center – Carl “Chuck” Sporer: St. Paul Veteran’s Center located in New Brighton.  Viet Nam veterans are using the services due to retirees having more off time to think about the past.  651-644-4022 listed as veterans resource center which means people call for all kinds of services, so many referrals to other agencies.  Two new councilors have been hired.  At present two positions are open, a team leader and councilor.  Brochures were handed out.  Groups are formed to specific times as well as a female group.  The center is teaming up with an arts program to help those who have a hard time expressing themselves, be able better  to communicate their issues.

Senator Amy Klobuchar- No One Present

Senator Al Franken- No One Present

7th District Representative – Collin Peterson – No One Present

  1st District Representative – Tim Walz –Emailed from Message read from Shawn.  Congress man Walz has been on the road meeting with veterans.  Last months road trip has take him to the Twin Cities, St. Cloud, Augusta, Vet Center.  He has met with the National Guard, the Department of Economic Development, the Department of Veteran Affairs as well as meetings within his district.

2nd District Representative – John Kline – Chaz Johnson: Authorization bill will be going through this next week.  The bill priorities; equipment resources, training, family support, capability of force structure for present and future threats and added transparency.  Extra explanation is being posted on line to help everyone to better understand what is going on.  In addition there is a bill in the works to bring home school students up to the same level as brick and mortar school for entering the military.   Stop loss pay has been extended to October.

3rd District Representative –Eric Paulson – John Paul Yates:  Representative Paulson was in attendance for the deployment ceremony for the 34th in Bloomington.  Reception for Academy nominees is being held..

4th District Representative – Betty McCollum – Connie Haddeland: A list of bills was handed out with several of the bills being new.  HR1288 is a bill speaking to WWII Merchant Mariner Service Act which gives a complete verification for benefits.  HR1469 prevents loss of death benefits during a failure to pass a budget.  There was also a letter handed out to the Secretary about PTSD parameters being used for a claim to include sexual trauma and sexual harassment.  Mil/Con/VA committee will be working on several items such as the VA budget, Arlington problems, BRAC, and the American battle field commission.  Academy recognition night is being held on Friday.

5th District Representative – Keith Ellison – No One Present

6th District Representation – Michele Bachmann- No One Present

8th District Representative – Chip Cravaack – No One Present

Old Business –Treasures report was given with only a few not having paid their dues.  A short report on what is happening at Legislature as the session will be ending this month.  The next MAG meeting is being held on Monday at 0900. Several of the bills are still in the works.  The bills are now added into the omnibus bills.  It is important to read the bills to make sure nothing falls out of the bills.  A program will be held at the Vets home on Memorial Day at 1400.  No new business items at this time.  Meeting was adjourned.
     Adjournment/ Next Meeting 9:30 AM - Wed, June 1, VISN 23 Building 9 Auditorium,
                            Mpls Medical Center Campus, Mpls, MN.