Meeting Minutes for February, 2012

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UVLC Minutes–Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Call to order – 09:30, Invocation – Pledge of Allegiance –

Greetings: Recognition of visitors and guests –  Special Guerrilla Unit Veterans- Introduction by Dan Seaverson as to how the Hmong Veterans aided and saved out troops in Viet Nam- Chue Chou Tschang Capt.-  Mr. Tschang interpreted for leaders of the Hmong Veterans Group.  A Senior Hmong member explained their role in helping American forces.  After the brief it was requested that we help in their request to be buried in a Veteran’s Cemetery.

Short Brief on the Little Falls Cemetery painting display.  Continued support of the project is requested.  Questions were asked about funding and due to the fact that this project is funded by and for veterans.  Donations are being given from various sources. 

Announcements - Ralph Donais, Chairman -        

1. State Agencies and MN Veteran Assistance Organizations

MN Military Affairs – Annette Kuyper-  There employment of the returning Guard who will return in May.  Currently about 28% will be unemployed upon their return.  Teams are being sent over to assist the in their job search.  A Veteran Round Table will be held with the Secretary of State, MNDVA and others to develop a plan to hire the returning veterans.  Yellow Ribbon (YR) recognition program is going well.  All 63 Armory and Air Base communities will have a YR program.  Over one hundred communities are being set up.  Next Region YR event will be March 30 at Trinity Lutheran Church in Lakeville.  YR.org site will list additional information.

MN Veteran Commissioner’s Office Pam Barrows Deputy Commissioner:  Training dollars are available for help with returning veterans.  Interviews are on going for Deputy Commission position.  Someone should be on hand by April.  Temporary positions have been made.  Building nine is progressing well.  Bonding bills this session come to about 29 million complete current projects.  4 million to improve the IT infra structure for all five of the homes.  Day care will open in March once they are certified.  35 in any one day will be the total. 

MN Assistance Council for Veterans (MACV) Kathy Vitalis MACV also focuses on veterans who can’t make it and need another job.  Coats (100 t0 200) are being distributed though out the state.  DAV and Twins are working on the coat project.   967 Veterans and families received services from MACV.  25,000 contacts that resulted in referrals.  72 counties were reached this year.  The goal is to reach all counties in MN.  10th District will have a ride for MACV this spring.  Many legal issues are being  resolved due to the MACV Legal Clinics.  Feedback from those who have been helped ask that Kathy thank all of us for helping.

Military Action Group (MAG) –Ralph Donais MAG brochure is ready for the Veteran’s Day at the Capital.  MNDOT has dollars to advertise for contract bids from veteran owned small business.  Yellow Ribbon Bill to help protect volunteers.  Veteran preference for private businesses.

2. Federal Agencies

VA Regional Office – Director, Antione Waller or Peter Panos, PAO Veteran’s Court in Washington County to help the Red Bulls coming back.  Hennepin County has Veteran’s Court and we hope that Ramsey County will follow soon.  Homeless Veterans outreach as of fy11 (1,223) claims processed in an average of fifty days.  457 claims so far this year with 128 not closed out yet.  The regional office is gearing up for the influx from the Red Bulls return.  Our office is one of the best in the US.  National Guard has a voting seat on the Join Services Committee.  Agent Orange claims from MN have been processed and claims from other regions (3,300) are being process here.  Most claims are processed under 118 days which is under national averages.  $142M brought into the state from claims each month.

VISN 23 –Janet Murphy- Director VISN 23 (Handout given out)   Creative arts festival for veterans is coming up.  Women’s retreat coming up so please pass it on.  Efficiency will be the key issue coming up this next budget period.  Flat budget for this year and expenditures are on track.  $10M received for non recurring maintenance projects.  $23M approved for new equipment.  Homeless Women Veterans data gathering problem and grants for programs do not allow for children.  Security and safety is another issue to be looked at.  One million veterans project to get veterans to sign up for a gene pool study which is voluntary.  Data would be used to study health of veterans.  Director for Minneapolis VA HCS is underway. 

Mpls VA HCS  Ralph – Search underway for director, assistant director and prose tics director also. Parking garage design is almost completed.  About 200 spots will be lost.  The spaces will be adjusted by taking staff parking and use it for patients.  A covered walkway will connect the parking garage and the hospital.  A new CBOC location will open later this year.  It will be a new building.  A new waiting room for the prosetics clinic will open soon.  Coming in May a veteran’s resource center will be opened in down town area of Minneapolis.  Common Bond will take five of the old Fort Snelling buildings and revamp them to be used for veteran’s housing units.

St Cloud VA HCS – Rose Blesener  Individual health care books are being sent out to all veterans.  It will take about six months to get them out.  National salute to Veterans 5-18 February at St. Cloud.  Many functions are planned and will be sent out by email.  Construction update: bldg 49 is being renovated.  MRI project is moving along, audiology clinic being expanded from three to six booths, pharmacy expansion and geo thermal system being expanded to other buildings.  St. Cloud named number 2 in the nation for cost efficiency.  Law clinic is open by appointment.

Ft Snelling Cemetery – Brad Butler January internments 385 caskets 196, cremations 147 and 42 columbarium.  Total interments 198,178, female veterans 1595.  Rifle squad Honors 59,823.

3. Federal Congressional Representatives and Senators

Senator Amy Klobuchar- Tim Cossalter  TRICARE  St. Lukes is now a provider. Military sexual trama will be peserved for fifty years.  The Senator is working on keeping the rifles for Fort Snelling Rifle squads.  Agent Orange bill is working it way through the Senate.

Senator Al Franken- Nate Arch (Not Present)

7th District Representative – Collin Peterson – Al Loehr  House Veterans Affairs subcommittee is discussing the issue of ratings.  The last week of February the Veterans groups will be in DC to talk about our issues.  We need to decide which way we want to go with our issues.

1st District Representative – Tim Walz –Shawn Schoesser Notes sent for the January meeting.  Sorry I cannot attend today’s UVLC below are a few highlights of Congressman Walz’s activities.

  • Nominated 12 candidates for Service Academies.
  • Continues to advocate for HR 1148 Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act (STOCK Act) and encourage the House leadership to bring it to a vote.  It has 241 Cosponsors which is sufficient to pass if brought to a vote.   MN Delegation Cosponsors include Rep’s. Ellison, McCollum, Paulson, and Peterson so even in MN it has bipartisan support.
  • Congressman Walz with Rep. Owens D-NY and  Rep. Bilirakis R-FL introduced legislation to expand job protection for members of our Armed Forces.  The bill, H.R. 3670, requires the Transportation Security Administration to comply with the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). USERRA guarantees that employees in both the public and private sector who are called to active duty can keep their jobs when they come home.  Currently, TSA says it complies with USERRA voluntarily, however, the Aviation and Transportation Security Act barred TSA from USERRA coverage.

2nd District Representative – John Kline – Chaz Johnson Congressman will be discussing military budget cuts to make sure our troops who are in harms way are taken care of.  Congressman will introduce bill to take care of rifle squad issue.  Representative Kline has nominations for the Academies.  Nominees are encouraged to apply for more than one academy. 

3rd District Representative –Eric Paulson – John Paul Yates (Not Present)

4th District Representative – Betty McCollum – Connie Haddeland  Check Representative McCullum’s web site for resources on jobs for veterans.  Nationalresoucedirectory.gov web site for employers as well as veterans.  HR2026 is another bill that the Representative is working on.  Representative McCollum also has several academy nominations.

5th District Representative – Keith Ellison – Mike Siebenaler (Not Present)

6th District Representation – Michele Bachmann- Nicole Severson  Stop by office while in DC. Welcome home ceremony and end of the war celebration at the St. Clould VAHSC.  Valentine for veterans is a grade school project.  Representative Bachman also has nominations to the Acadamies.

8th District Representative – Chip Cravaack – Brian Gordon-  Title 49 is being worked on so small veteran owned businesses in MN can bid on projects that have Federal dollars in them. Representative Cravaack also has nominations to the academies.  

4. Announcements

5. Meeting in Recess for 10 minutes                         

6. Treasures report: Balance as of 1 February 2012 is $5,630.45  Only ten members haven’t paid as of             February meeting.

General business: None

2011 Legislative report:  MAG Brochure is being handed out.  Several Bills were discussed that are            coming up.  Attendance is need at the committee meetings to support the Veteran’s bills.

7.      New Business –    Veteran’s Day on the Hill.  Master of ceremonies will be the CVSO president.  0900 will be the start time.  Please set up an appointment with you representatives.  Go to the MN legislation page on the internet. Discussion held about attempting to set up a coffee and donuts for those   attending.  Motion made to spend up to $250.00.  Motion approved.  CVSO will be contacted to see if they will add funds to the effort.  Certificate of appreciation from the Armed Forces Service Center was received thanking the UVLC.  There will be another Honor Fight in April 2012.  There is a Korean War Veteran flight also.  Information will be sent to the chair.  A certificate of appreciation for Gil is on the back table to be signed.  It will be ready for our next meeting for presentation.  Discussion was held on the Hmong’s issues.  There were about four hundred Hmong who are involved.  This is a Federal issue as the rules for burial applies to our state cemetery which used federal funds.

Adjournment/ Next Meeting 9:30 A M – April 4, 2012