Meeting Minutes for April 2013

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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

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

Greetings: Recognition of visitors and guests -

New member: National Guard Association of Minnesota

VA Regional Office - Peter Panos, PAO

  • Director is in Hutchinson at conference so cannot make it.
  • Two new Asst Directors announced within last month: Donna Meyer Hinckel from Souix Falls and Kay Anderson been with VA for years at Veterans Service Center and is transitioning into Asst Director
  • Total rating inventory is 5060 cases reduced by 1900 in the last three months
  • St. Paul is number one in the country in accuracy and speed on claims
  • Mr. Waller is meeting with the General from MN National Guard to start working on more active, cooperative program between us and them
  • The VA is changing and going paperless. Our office is 3/4 the way there. Almost all claims coming in through e benefits. A lot of service organizations are getting on board. We are giving service organizations limited access to database so they can see where the claims are and who the point of contact is for each claim
  • If we can get a claim coming from veteran or State CVSO fully developed, the claim can get completed in less than 50 days.
  • For persons on a pension they used to have to do an EVR (eligibility verification report) every year. We have cut those out. It is now a one page letter sent and says if anything has changed let us know. So once they have been approved for the benefit, we are making it easier for them to continue to receive benefits.
  • Building is on track. Just about finished the lower level and we will be moving the veteran service organizations to that level. Still on schedule to complete the building spring 2014
  • If you have a veteran that is not disabled, but is still a veteran have them sign up for e benefits. It will make it easier for them later on to file a claim if and when they need it. They just sign in at It gives instructions on signing up but they can come to regional office and we will help them do it. It also ties in with My Healthy Vet. They can also go to CVSO for help.

Representative Bob Dettmer - Representative Dettmer informed those attending of the issues at the capital and what has been accomplished so far.

Common Bond Communities Paul Fade, President / Patricia Wilder - I spoke with you 18 months ago. There was a Business Utilization review and repurposing process where buildings were identified for reuse and an effort to look at how to address homelessness with vets. Common Bond submitted a proposal in mid-2011 and were selected to do work here at Fort Snelling and St. Cloud in tandem with the Sand companies in St Cloud. In the last session we were given the enhanced use leases. Today I want to update

      • Common Bond is a 42 year old organization that is based in twin cities. Our mission is to build stable homes, strong futures, and vibrant communities. We have 100 housing communities representing about 5300 units of housing for families, seniors, and people living with disabilities.
      • Since we last met, we have secured almost 100% of capitol dollars required to do the work here at Fort Snelling. There will be 58 units of housing that will be historic preservation and energy efficient and 35 units in St. Cloud.
      • Represents 21 million dollars that we secured. (Handout lists sources secured). The State’s Housing Infrastructure Bond program was made available provides a significant share of dollars and tax credits.
      • The pieces still in play and need your help on are the service dollars. There is a gap of about 400000 a year
      • Vash vouchers; provide rent subsidies for everyone living in the housing.
      • MN Housing Finance Agency provided multiple millions of dollars has tied their distribution of those dollars to us being successful pulling in the service dollars.
      • The plan is to be able to start construction by spring of 2014.
      • The services we are looking at include benefit applications, employment assistance, counseling, case management services. We spent 6 months working with a consultant on developing a service plan and model that will be done in concert with many of the VA organizations and departments you represent.
      • You can see the locations on the handout provided.
      • There will be a gut rehab so there are no asbestos concerns with the housing
      • We are in the process of identifying sources at county, state, and federal level to raise the funds needed, but need help of veteran’s organizations.
      • We are trying to get preference for veterans in the housing given the locations we will not have as much problems with that preference.
      • Common Bond historically are to real estate developer we are not a general contractor, we hire general contractors. We are a service provider for developers
      • Patty - We are creating space and will have offices in each location so the VA and counties have their own space to work with people.
      • For contracting, we have teamed up with Sand companies who will service contractors. We are in discussions with Sand Companies about hiring veterans for contracting.

Colonel Eric D. Ahlness Minnesota National Guard Diversity Program Manager - Colonel Alness gave a presentation on his deployment to Afghanistan.

2nd District Representative - John Kline - Chaz Johnson

  • Congressman and I got to sit in to meet the United Health Group people who will be taking over Tri care in this region. It was great to see the operation. There have been concerns with Tricare prime and the Congressman and DC staff are talking with DOD about concerns. They are in recess so he is in the district meeting with constituent groups during the break.
  • Continue to meet with yellow Ribbon groups in S St Paul reconnecting with those individuals.
  • Shortly after the first of the year Shawn sent me an email from a CVSO in Wabasha County and there was a WWII vet who wanted to get a WWII Navy uniform. This is not normal case work so we worked with some people to obtain a WWII Navy uniform and I dropped it off last week. He was stationed in South Pacific during nuclear testing. When they got off the ship their uniforms were disposed of so he really wanted one.

4th District Representative - Betty McCollum - Connie Haddeland

  • Defense subcommittee will start hearing once federal budgets are released on April 10th.
  • Congresswoman signed on to a bipartisan letter that went to the secretary of defense a couple weeks ago related to tuition assistance for those currently serving and seeking restoration of that program to better themselves professionally and as an extra benefit to their service. By bettering themselves they are bettering the forces. There were 40-45 members who signed
  • I left a flyer out front. Having a service academy information meeting at Mounds View High School on Tuesday April 16th open to anyone who wishes to attend.
  • We have seven young individuals who have received offers to attend academies. A number of them have already accepted appointments.
    • Please share flyer with anyone who has interested in the academy

2. State Agencies and MN Veteran Assistance Organizations
MN Veterans 2010 Legislative Info - Mike McElhiney

  • Legislature took Easter break last week and came back Tuesday. Second committee deadline passed the third deadline is April 19. Policy bills that did not make it through the second deadline were dead
  • Still 65 bills alive about 5 veteran bills died along the way. Bills in finance committees are still alive
  • Mary Murphy and committees were going to release a delete all bill today but has been postponed until tomorrow. She would like to have everything wrapped up in the omnibous bill by the 15th of April.
  • There is a little extra money but cannot be confirmed until we see the spreadsheet tomorrow. All Governors bills are moving fine
  • Governor signaled that he liked the veterans omnibous bill. There are some controversial pieces wrapped up in that bill and about 7 tax items.
  • Yesterday MDVA gave bonding overview at the Capital Investment Committee. Estimated Governor will release bonding budget early next week
  • MDVA’s first priority is to complete phase III of the Minneapolis campus.
  • Now using a web based newsletter it will come through email
  • Not sure if Senate has voted on permanent rules this year. House and Senate are still on last years rules
  • 255000 veterans in a 50 mile radius of Mpls campus we have to service
  • 44% of states veteran population are 65 and older
  • Mary Murphy’s committee will be important we have hats in the room
  • Like to see a bonding bill but senate is saying this is not a bonding year but the House has signaled they want a bonding bill. There is a recent article about a 750 million dollar bonding bill

MN Military Affairs - Don Kerr Yellow Ribbon - Annette Kuyper

  • Thank you to those who have accommodated time to sit down with us.
  • One policy bill moving through the update to MN Code of Military Justice. Waiting for action on floor in senate and in committee in the house.
  • Waiting for release of budget bill. We believe there will be a bonding bill just unsure of how much it will be.
  • Seven Yellow Ribbon Summits; bringing yellow ribbons together to share best practices and recognize ongoing efforts.
    • Next summit is in Mankato on Saturday and upcoming in Duluth, Moorhead, and St. Cloud. Registration on
  • City of Rogers having a kick off May 1st at Rogers Community Center at 7pm
  • June 19th next regional yellow ribbon proclamation 3pm at Camp Ripley. Send info to Ralph to send out once available.
  • City of Maple Grove proclaimed Yellow Ribbon Network at 7pm on July 10 in town greene
  • 151 community networks, 26 yellow ribbon companies. Working with 12 other yellow ribbon companies.
    • Connecting companies with local yellow ribbon communities to ensure they are all working together.
  • Developed a seminar called leaders in veteran employment. Four hour seminar given to HR professionals and hiring managers about hiring leaders. Identify gaps in hiring veteran candidates and give military 101 on what kind of experience veterans bring to organization. Holding seminar at St. Thomas diversity fair next week April 9 in the morning. Free admission. Google St Thomas Diversity Fair for info. Call out to Barb O’Rielly for the work she is doing on this
    • Completed seminars in Rochester, St. Paul, and Duluth
  • Concerns with communities taking on issues when a veteran has trouble in the system: Only one group has voiced a problem with taking this on as a mission and we are trying to provide them with resources available on the issues. Any family member is welcome
  • Elk River Yellow Ribbon community was activated because a military member’s family was impacted by murders in Zimmerman to ensure as soon as the family needs help we were ready to go.
  • Thank you for great work Jerry and Ralph did for getting stadium work open to veterans

MN Assistance Council for Veterans (MACV) - Kathy Vitalis

  • April 23 a St. Cloud legal clinic
    • Just completed Minneapolis, Hibbing, and Bemidji.
  • April 25th Detroit Lakes stand-down at Becker County Fair Grounds
  • May 18th District 10 - American Legion Riders doing second annual MACV ride starting at building 47
  • All info on the website
  • May 5th University of Minnesota Airforce ROTC first 5k walk/run for MACV at 10:30 am at Caufman Union. We are meeting - I will buy coffee and we will do this. Cost is $20
  • MACV Metro stand down August 6th and 7th. Info coming soon
  • Legislation for MACV is still moving forward
  • September 20th is annual dinner for MACV should be at Hotel Sofitel
  • New Board member Steve Schunemauer an attorney with Leorard,  Street and, Dinared. Also G2 and assistant chief of staff for 34th infantry - 21 years Army
  • Participating in DAV golf tournament.
  • Annual MACV staff meeting this Monday so we will not be available on Monday
  • Mike Galluchi is Deputy commissioners hat for veterans homes. He is now owner of MACV Mayham softball team.
  • MACV presented a check

Military Action Group (MAG) - Jerry Kyser

  • MAG has brochures available
  • Workforce and veteran owned businesses - 2 parts to stadium deal. Women and minorities group had mandate but veterans were unfunded mandate. We have asked for 10% of both workforce and contracts which is 65 million worth. The UVLC not working with workforce, that is a combination of other organizations.
    • This month working with president and senior VP of Mortinson to see how veteran owned business gets involved
    • First thing veteran owned businesses need to do is become CVE certified. We want to pre-qualify people to speed process
    • Meeting on April 12th with sports facilities authority
  • MNDOT increased veteran owned businesses from 29 to 67 or 68 to get more veteran owned businesses bidding on those contracts

3. Federal Agencies

VISN 23 - Steve Julius

  • Jan Murphy in DC at National Leadership Council
  • Mid-year budget briefings later this month with VA Secretary to talk about budget, challenges, and how can they help with mission
  • Doing well budget wise - VA not affected by sequestration
  • HVAC hearings on wait times. The previous metric is a 99% new patient in primary care needs to be seen within 2 weeks of desired date. For specialty care appointments 98% needed to be seen within 2 weeks of desired date
    • Concern that the system not working so we developed new metric
      • 14 day clock starts the day the appointment is created rather than the desired date
      • The new method we will be down to about 50% rate but it is the same stats just a new metric.
    • HVAC also concerned with funding and staffing.
      • We are fine with funding and seem to be fine with staffing
      • Many employees hold multiple positions making it difficult to measure staffing productivity
  • Still working on mental health hiring. We are still at 85%. Hardest recruit is psychiatrists. Been authorized to raise salary for psychiatrists

VAHCS Mpls -

  • Parking letters went out that the parking garage is underway. Project 18 month but hope to complete in less. All patient parking on south side of hospital. The impact is on staff and students not patients.
    • We are moving overflow to staff lots on the north side of hospital
    • No longer offer overnight parking for overnight travel
    • Moved research group to this building upstairs. Now parking behind building 9
    • Incentive program for staff to use light rail
    • Designated handicap lot on south side - Access the south lot from veterans drive and left at spinal cord visitors center. We are putting signs up
    • Ramp is being built to add two levels pending funding. A covered and heated walkway from ramp on ground level to medical center.
  • Remodeling in a couple months and outpatient access will close and all patient access will be through the visitors entrance
  • Left copies of map and letter in other room
  • New vendor for Hibbing CVOC, Sterling Medical currently operate in St. James and Mankato
  • Cook Satellite outreach clinic at Cook hospital will be relocated to Ely this summer
  • Posted on website plans for 2 new CVOCs in 2014. One southern border and another in southwest metro area
    • Official solicitation goes online around May 8th
  • Still searching for a Director. Judy will remain in place until a new director

VAHCS St Cloud VA Medical Center - Barb Oemke

  • Construction updates:
    • MRI in process latest is the delivery of MRI magnet delayed until May
    • Dental area increasing capacity moving forward not complete
    • Pharmacy area moved about a month ago. Renovating to complete the space they had been in
    • Audiology booths complete (6)
    • Renovations in community living center - building 49. Sheet rocking now
    • Ground breaking scheduled for April 25 at 1pm for new mental health building
    • Couple projects in contracting - rehab building and renovation and new construction on a kitchen
    • Still out for bids again for homeless drop in center - searching for location
    • Windmill - repair people on site frequently doing repairs. They have fixed leaks and replaced sensors. Have decided it is operational with exception of needing a new gear box.
  • Site visit fidelity review (mental health program review)
  • Upcoming American Legion system worth saving site visit for woman’s veterans’ health care April 16 and 17
  • Operation updates
    • Good budget this year
    • Started offering extended clinic hours. Weekly Tuesday evening and Saturday morning clinics. Run for two weeks and going well
  • Annual volunteer recognition dinner Friday evening
    • In fiscal year 2012 we had 2.2 million dollars of economic impact through volunteers
    • 506 active volunteers who provided over 67000 hours of service
  • Former POW recognition program at St Cloud VA on April 12th
  • Hiring our heroes job fair scheduled for Brainerd on April 18th. HR will present to the community job openings available in St Cloud
  • Stand down plan on April 26th
  • Tele health fairs coming up at St Cloud site at each clinic
  • Continue radio shows each month on KNSI and WJON
  • Expanded transportation utilizing donated vehicle to Brainerd CVOC

Ft Snelling Cemetery - Brad Butler

  • 321 interments last month
    • 4 female veterans
  • Rifle squad did 165 services - total for fiscal year since October is 1101
  • Total interments for fiscal year is 2,283 and total overall 203,299
  • Losing one of shelters - taking out shelter 4 and redesigning

Vets Employment & Training Service [VETS] - David Seay

  • Director Scott Mills is participating in VRNE joint working group to increase targeting coordination to increase chapter 31 program
    • Recently met with coordinator to get perspectives on solutions and this is happening this morning so he cannot be here
  • Moved locations to 332 Minnesota Street on 13th floor Suite W1372
  • Solicitation for grant applications for homeless veteran’s reintegration program, incarcerated veterans training programs, VWIP should be out any day now.
  • Also taking statewide stand down applications - need to be submitted 90 - 120 days before event. Info and application on website at
  • Veterans preference claims have increased in March
  • VWRAP MN has 649 approved applications and 288 enrolled in training and 361 applicants not enrolled in training
    • Nationally there are 92,539 approved applications. Of those 39,729 enrolled in training so 52,810 approved not in training
    • As of March 15 the program has paid out $169, 776, 173

  4. Announcements - We are also on Twitter

  • Welcome Mark - new member a key player in veteran owned business preferences
  • Honor flight - lost half WWII veterans some to illness some to death so we have 150 on waiting list we will move up. On April 27th at 10:30pm - be there at 10:15pm when they return at Hubert Humphrey terminal 2 we will have party
  • DAV spam and crapola breakfast at Mpls Men’s home on April 11th - Have three new vans ordered for NW MN Transportation program for vets will transfer from St Cloud and Fargo VA
    • State convention in Duluth at Holiday Inn May 2 - May 4
    • Disabled veterans turkey hunt is April 22 and 23rd at Camp Ripley

5. Meeting in Recess for 10 minutes  

Business Meeting:

  • Treasurers Report:
    • Balance as of March 1 is $5565.27
    • Deposits of $450
    • Expenses of $29.75
    • End balance as of April 1 is $5985.52
    • 37 organization members 8 are non-paying so 29 are paying organizations and of them 26 have paid.
      • Dept. of MN reserve office association not paid $100, Service disabled owned veterans business for $50, and Veterans of foreign wars auxiliary for $100
    • Budget with all organizations is $2400
  • Treasurers report approved
  • Old business
    • Brochures have been handed out to every representative in the capitol
    • Need to get more people down at the capitol
    • Metro reps and senators are key contacts because they have majority of votes
  • New business
    • Plan to put together a UVLC calendar to send out maybe twice a month
    • Mark Winkler from KSTP addressed veterans contracts he was at MAG meeting
    • USS MN is going to be commissioned in the next month or two. It will be by invitation only for ceremony. You will be able to attend open house. We have three crew members on submarine.
      • Captains wife from Minnesota and the crest on side of submarine created by MN student
      • September 9th
    • Tricare for life has not changed - United Health got the contract
  • Motion to adjourn
    • Approved

Adjournment/ Next Meeting 9:30 AM - Wednesday 1 May, 2013