Meeting Minutes for December 2013

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

  • Call to order - 09:30, Invocation, Chaplain leads prayer - Pledge of Allegiance -

    • Greetings: Recognition of visitors and guests -
    • Secretary of State Mark Richie
    • Announcements - Ralph Donais, Chairman - Jerry Kyser, Vice Chairman.

1. Federal Agencies
VA Regional Office - Ron Woolrie- Change Management Agent at St. Paul Regional Office

    • Lot of changes happening
    • Pension Management Center- will start rating cases in the new VBMS program
      • Compensation side of the house has been fully involved since June
      • Pension will start rating fully on the 20th of December
      • 88 % of workload is in paperless environment
      • St. Paul picked up over 8500 brokered cases ( national priorities)
      • Less than 400 left
      • Continuing to expand team that works MN cases
      • Submit cases as fully developed claims to ensure they get worked on
      • Fully developed claims being completed in 90 days
      • Pension Center fully developed claims-43 days for average completion
      • National Priority are cases rolling over 334 days
      • Question: Where do we find the true statistics for backlogged reports? A: Numbers are fairly accurate, and backlog is decreasing
      • Question: How much longer to work on cases? A: Check with Dave. If cases need to be prioritized, just let us know.

VISN 23 - Judith Johnson-Mekota- Deputy Network Director

    • Serving as Active Network Director
      • Janet Murphy has been detailed to Central Office
      • She is serving as Acting Deputy Undersecretary for Health Operations and Management and will remain there until end of Calendar year
    • Dr. Petzle is retiring as Undersecretary for Health
      • Process for replacement recruitment is active
      • Will probably be named by the end of the year
      • New leadership changes coming in 2014
    • Implementing a Comprehensive National VA Dental Program
      • Opportunity to purchase through Delta Dental and Met Life
      • Voluntary, and does not affect the ability to opt for dental services at VA hospital
      • Open enrollment is November 15-January 1st
      • Links in article
    • Trying to improve technologies for providing healthcare
    • Veteran Health Library
      • Great resource for Veteran focused health information
    • Last page- St. Paul Regional Office is offering webinar on Wednesday December 11 at 10 am
    • Issues with mortgages, defaults, etc.
    • Leadership changes: Yvonne Livehsage is new Fargo Director
    • Director of Good Falls: Darwin Goodspeed
    • Judith Johnson-Mekota: New Director of Central Iowa and Des Moines.
    • Questions on dental-anyone is eligible

Ft Snelling Cemetery - Robert Wolfe

    • Here in place of Brad Butler who retired last Friday
    • Total internments for this month is 390
    • 869 to date ( fiscal year), 5 female Veterans this month
    • 95 WWII internments, 48 Korean, 59 Vietnam, 3 Persian Gulf, 15 Peace Time, 1 Active Duty, 169 Dependents
    • Total Rifle Squad Honors: 187 held this month
    • Memorial Wall is completed, not opened yet
    • Shelter 4 construction delayed due to weather
    • Wreaths Across America is on 12/14 at 12 pm
    • Total 64,419 total Rifle Squad Honors ever performed
    • 206, 909 total internments

Vets Employment & Training Service [VETS] - Director, Scott Wills - Davis Seay
Mpls VA HCS - Director Patrick J Kelly

    • Still accepting applications for Stand downs
      • First come, first serve
      • 1 day events: $7,000
      • 2 day events: $10, 000
      • MN Assistance Council for Veterans had outstanding Stand downs
      • Solicitation for Grant applications begins after the New Year
      • Homeless Veterans Reintegration Project and Incarcerated Veterans Transition Program
      • Questions about applying, he is the main point of contact ( David Seay)
    • Uniform Services Employment/Reemployment Rights Act
      • Spike about investigations, considering Veterans coming back to work after Active Duty
    • Parking ramp- opening in January ( 520 spaces)
    • CBOCS awarded- in  Albertlee and Shakopee MN
      • Albertlee opening in April
      • Both is nice locations in existing malls
      • Primary care, mental health services, podiatry services
      • Shakopee opening in June
    • Comprehensive Breast Center opening in February
    • Chronic Pain Management Center ( spoke and hub model)
    • Very talented staff for Chronic Pain Center
    • Robotics surgery offered too
    • Center of Innovation for PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Dementia
      • Continued focus on these areas
      • Will result in more research in these areas
    • In Washington, large meeting discussing Veterans’ Courts
      • State of MN is a leader in Veterans’ Courts
      • About 80% of Veteran incarceration is due to substance abuse
      • Working to help lessen and prevent this
      • Question: Now 14 CBOCs. Veterans are able to choose where to receive their primary care.
      • Question: Expanding care to include home care, to keep Veterans in the home and out of nursing homes. Large number of contract nursing homes. Not contemplating significant expansion of community living center or contracted nursing home.

Secretary of State Mark Richie

    • Yellow Ribbon Events
      • Vikings Event was incredible
      • Change of Guard this Saturday
      • Soldiers and others serving overseas can now order their Absentee ballots online
      • Last decade, the State Capital and Fort Snelling have been spiraling downward in neglect
      • Capital has some attention, now Fort Snelling needs to be saved from deterioration
      • Mortenson family committed to this project to protect these monuments for future generations
      • Inspiring pitch giving details to preserve the Fort

Question: Are there plans for the State to put Non-traditional or industrial schools for Veterans in place? Answer: Not at this time, but maybe once these buildings are rehabbed that would be a possibility

      • Conversations with Historical Society as well, room for lots of ideas and conversations to be shared about the future of the fort
      • Budget for project is in the 80 million dollar range

2. Federal Congressional Representatives and Senator

Senator Al Franken- Nicole Ly

    • Gratitude and Congratulations to the VA Medical Center for being one of the top centers in the state
    • Senator Franken met with Veterans from Southern MN to discuss legislation he’s working on to include rural Veterans
    • Testified in Congress on his legislation
    • Some provisions in his Quicker Benefits Delivery Act legislation will be included in a larger Vets bill, hope to provide more information shortly
    • Conducted interviews for Academy applicants ( 130 applicants)
      • 130 interviews scheduled on one day
      • Look forward to making nominations and completing process

1st District Representative - Tim Walz - Dave Wentzel

    • Busy over last month
    • Congressmen spoke at groundbreaking for Preston Veterans Cemetery
    • Albertlee CBOC will alleviate a lot of pressure for current resources
    • Several bills have passed ( passed out handouts)
    • Congressmen introduced legislation for honoring the service of Guard and Reserve retirees
      •  Gives them Veteran status after 20 years of service
      • No extra benefits, just entitles them to status of Veteran
    • The Disabled Veterans Access to Medical Examinations Improvement Act - this provides VA contract physicians the ability to conduct examinations at any location in the state on the behalf of the VA
    • The Blue Otter Navy Ship Accountability Act- this will allow the DoD to open up records and allow Congress and the VA to see where ships list were
    • Access to Veterans Benefits Improvement Act- VA case tracking information for those already accredited individuals CVSOs, or those who can’t get basic information.
      • All of these Bills passed through the House, just waiting in the Senate
    • 21 individuals passed through the Academy, looks like they are all getting nomination

2nd District Representative - John Kline - Chaz Johnson

    • Very happy to hear of CBOC in Shakopee
    • Gave legislative update last time
    • Congressman is excited to support the 1.5 % cost of living adjustment for Veterans receiving disability benefits, pensions, etc.
    • 29 men and women are interviewing on Saturday for Service Academy
    • Veterans History Project done through the Library of Congress- inviting Veterans into the office who need help getting videotaped or with the process to tell their stories
    • For each slot, there can be 10 kids nominated
    • 2 interview panels, then Congressmen and I process recommendations
    • Forward nominations to Academy

3rd District Representative - Eric Paulson - John Paul Yates

    • Legislative Director Noah Jacobson moved on about a month ago
    • New Legislative Director-Mike Stober
    • New Legislative Assistant, who will handle Veterans’ issues is Ryan Huff
    • Ryan is primary contact
    • Academy interviews on November 23rd
      • 35 applicants
    • In October, Rep. Paulson was able to greet the Honor Flight in Washington D.C.
    • On Veteran’s Day, Rep. Paulson was able to attend 2 programs
      • Excelsior Elementary 4th grader’s presentation
      • Minnetonka High School Rally; presented Superintendent with a flag honoring his late father who was killed in WWII
    • Some Congressional offices can sometimes work together with Senate offices to maximize student nominations for Academy

4th District Representative - Betty McCollum - Connie Haddeland

    • VA press release just confirmed the 1.5% cost of living increase in monthly payments for Veterans families and survivors receiving disability compensation and pension benefits
    • 20 Academy interviews are on Saturday
    • Every member of Congress can have 5 people charged to them at a Service Academy at one time
    • Congresswoman McCollum does a principal with rankled alternates
    • Congressional Staff had a great briefing with the MN National Guard up at Fort Ripley on energy efficiency issues, initiatives, and construction needs for buildings
    • Congresswoman McCollum just went on a bill to name the CBOC in Mankato after Lyle C. Pearson Sr. who was a famous B-17 pilot in WWII, a POW, National Commander of Disable Veterans, and active in his community

5th District Representative - Keith Ellison - Mike Siebenaler

    • In the past month, Congressmen Ellison attended a few great Veteran’s Day events
      • STEM School in Richfield, talked to 800 students about History of Veteran’s Day
      • St. Paul Wounded Warriors Project ceremony
      • Yellow Ribbon Event at Metro-dome, Minneapolis is finally a Yellow Ribbon City
    • 9 interviews for Academy on December 14th

6th District Representation - Michele Bachmann- Nicole Pelzer

    • Congresswoman was original co-sponsor of naming Mankato on Congressman Walz’ bill
    • Congresswoman voted last month in favor or cost of living adjustment mentioned earlier
    • Bill :House Res 231- to establish a select committee  on POW and MIA affairs has 81 co-sponsors,
      • Would like to thank Congressman Kline, Congressman Paulson Congresswoman McCollum Congressman Ellison, Congressman Peterson, Congressman Nolan for their support
    • Will be sending out Dear Colleague letter this month regarding the DoD IG investigation of Joint Prisoner of War Missing in Action accounting command ( JPAC)and Defense Prisoner of War Mission personnel office
    • Recognize what Minneapolis Director Kelly had mentioned about Veterans Courts
      • Honored to attend Carver county Veteran’s courts programs
      • Honor to attend Hennepin Veteran’s courts
      • Office is encouraging these programs
    • 10 applicants for Academy this year, and all received nominations
    • Next year they are doing their final academy since Congresswoman will not be up for re-election again

8th District Representative - Rick Nolan- Rick Olseen

    • Constituent work with a lot of Veterans lately, unfortunately some WWII Veterans passing on, and working with their families to see if there are any benefits available
    • Great experience working with family in Milaca
      • Ed Wensloff, Pearl Harbor Survivor
      • On the Anniversary of Pearl Harbor, his family is spreading his ashes on the Arizona
      • 51 people from the family are traveling there
      • Will present a flag to the family
      • Not many Pearl Harbor survivors left
    • About 20 applicants for Academy
      • Talk about partnering with High Schools to get word out

3. State Agencies and MN Veteran Assistance Organizations

MN Dept of Veteran Affairs- Michael Gallucci

    • Congratulations on a great close out to the legislative year
    • Predesign for Phase 3
    • Have negotiated most challenges of Phase 2
      • To begin after the 1st of the year, groundbreaking in March
      • Big sewer lines project
      • Moving forward, very excited
    • Health Care Task Force
    • Commissioner will tell you that living history is found every day in Veterans’ homes
    • Facilities Assessment is completed
      • Responsible forecast of what assets preservation is needed
      • Article in ARMY Times about Mental health
      • VA positions is about 8-10 years out from any post-war experience is when symptoms show up
      • Remind people of MN that the cost of Services is worn on the sleeves of the enlisted

St Cloud VA HCS - Atlas Anagnos

    • Thank you all for continued support of all Veterans in St. Paul and MN
    • Follow up on Updates
      • Barb Umpke left
      • He has been holding down the fort since then
      • New Candidate, Andrew Frost, will begin at end of December
    • Joint Commission came
      • No findings in 3 out of 4 areas
      • Charged with 5 direct and 5 indirect findings
      • Appealed a few of those, and appeals were accepted
      • 3 direct, and 4 indirect findings now
      • One of the best records in the nation, proud of that
    • Recent provider shortage has been rectified
      • Many new physicians have started
    • Yesterday, Laboratory CAT survey
    • New kitchen and rehabilitation center construction will begin very soon
    • Psychiatry building is well on its way with the new roof on
    • New Acute Diagnostic Imaging center is in first stage of design
    • First of multiple planned CLC cottages also beginning to be designed
    • 2nd floor of Outpatient mental health clinic recently designed
    • Those 3 projects will keep them in construction for many years to come
    • Audiology and dental expansions are almost finished
    • Windmill has been working on and off recently( If working continuously, would provide 15% of energy needs)
    • Veterans Transportations services is expanding, to reach Veterans in new and rural areas
    • Surgery Center- New ENT Dr. was hired ( with specialization is audiology
      • YAG Laser, used in cataract surgery, now being used
      • Ophthalmic Operating Microscope arrived and now being utilized

MN Veterans 2010 Legislative Info -Mike McElhiney

    • Saturday, December 7th, is the 77th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor
      • Ceremony will be held at 10 am on 5th floor of Veterans Service building
      • Nice speaker and re-enactors with uniforms and equipment
    • Tomorrow morning at 11:15: Press Conference at Capital to release November forecast
    • Sub-committee chaired by Representative Newton: they convened in early October
      • Looking to extend deadline now
      • Supposed to be a report released for any ideas or change items this week
      • Potential changes are examining cost effectiveness with Veterans’ home and homelessness
      • Investigation for the last several months, more to come soon
    • Commissioner’s Task force is being developed to replace previous taskforce
      • Will look more at minutiae issues
      • First meeting will be in early/mid January
      • Continue to work with Governor’s office
    • Put forth 4 initiatives for Veteran Owned Businesses
      • Session will start February 25th

MN Military Affairs - Don Kerr -

    • Agency has no legislative initiatives policy wise
    • Bonding request under consideration in Governor’s office
    • Construction on education center at Camp Ripley
      • 19 million dollar project
      • Underway, working furiously to get work done on track
    • Recently accepted substantial completion of 10 million dollar renovation to Cedar Street Armory
    • Project to construct new Armory in Stillwater to replace the 100 year old facility there
      • As soon as they get a National Defense Authorization Act to allow them to move forward

Yellow Ribbon- Annette Kyper

    • Added city of Becker and company of Minnesota Vikings as Yellow Ribbon members
    • December 1st , city of Minneapolis is now Yellow Ribbon
    • Minneapolis is largest city now involved
    • Would like to thank Medical Center for sending a rep and leading their sub-committee for Minneapolis
    • Norwood Young America will be named the 200th Yellow Ribbon city this weekend
    • This Friday is the 5th Anniversary of Minnesota’s  1st Yellow Ribbon city, Farmington
      • At Farmington High School
      • 6 p.m. reception, 7 p.m. ceremony
      • Governor Dayton, Commissioner Shelletoe, General Nash all attending
      • Everyone is invited
    • On December 16th, 2nd Yellow Ribbon Company Seminars
      • Get together all 33 YR Companies
      • Update them on initiatives
      • Recognize efforts and share best practices
      • Commissioner Lanwear and General Nash both attending
    • National Governor’s Association Grant
      • Allows them to hold the National Governor’s Association Policy Academy
      • 1 of 5 states that have been selected
      • Taskforce to look at licensure for EMTs, LPNs, and policy officers
      • How to translate military experience so they can more quickly receive those licensures
      • Barb O’Reily from MDVA and Allison Jones from Governor’s Office went to Washington to investigate how to get this started in MN
    • February marks the beginning of bringing YR Cities together
      • Bringing together Regional Family Assistance Centers Seminars and YR seminars and calling it Joining Community Forces Minnesota
      • Offered in several cities, on Saturdays from 9-2
      • Total Number of YR Networks- about 250

MN Assistance Council for Veterans (MACV)- Jimmy Collier

    • Friday is annual open House
    • 12-4pm in Building 47 at VA Hospital
    • Good turnout at Vet Clinic on the 14th
    • Vet Clinic in St. Cloud good turnout as well

Military Action Group (MAG) - Jerry Kyser

    • Not having MAG meeting this month
      • January 14th is next meeting ( 10 am)
    • Opening Ceremony yesterday for Vikings Stadium
      • On Committee that verifies who is a Veteran owned business
      • Problem is lack of registration on behalf of Veteran owned businesses
      • Takes over a year to get certified
      • Then they can bid on Mortenson construction projects
      • Looking for Veteran owned businesses to apply to get that going

Announcements -

    • Same items still working on:
    • Tax credit for businesses that hire Veterans
    • YR Volunteers worried about legal action
    • Working on bill so that Widows and Widowers get permanent tax exemption instead of 5 years after the Veteran family member dies
    • Need to get MN military retirees to come back to MN
    • Next meeting 8 January 2014

Meeting in Recess for 10 minutes

Business Meeting

    • Treasury Report for 1st of December
      • Balance as of 11/1 : $4, 402.09 cents
      • No deposits
      • Expenses of $149.75
        • Regular transcription expense of $120, 29.75 for parking at the Capital
    • Will be receiving newsletter next month
    • Q: Who is new Commander of VFW? A: Oleen
    • Motion made to accept treasury report
    • Old Business
    • Elections in January
      • Needs to be done at next meeting
    • Brochure needs motion to pay for it
      • Motion made to accept payment for brochures
    • Coordinate with taskforce to make sure not stepping on toes
    • New Business
      • Letters for Dues will be coming out soon
      • Make sure current people are listed
      • Possibly creating Directory for everyone
      • Inaudible comments
      • Jim Cleary Certificate of Appreciation from MN House of Legislature
      Motion to adjourn

      Next meeting 8 January 2014