Meeting Minutes for February 2013

Minutes Header

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

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

Greetings: Recognition of visitors and guests -

    • Mark Carlson
    • Dathon Branch - HAP Veteran Outreach Coordinator:
      • EMDR program through the HAP was given grant to provide mental health services to veterans in Minnesota.
      • Reaching out to veterans organizations to get in touch with other veterans who may need the EMDR services.
      • Program is at no cost to veterans and provides mental health services to veterans and family members. They get two sessions.
      • Handing out flyers
      • Run by volunteer therapists so there is no set office location; each therapist has their own office and Dathon is a point of contact for the program. Contact Dathon and he sets up services based on location of veteran and therapist. Primarily in Twin Cities but therapists also available in Rochester.
      • Elaine Winn: Therapists available in Grand Rapids, Virginia, St. Cloud, Alexandria, and North Branch but working on other locations.
      • Currently only available to veterans who have served since 2001 and it is also anonymous.
      • We are also working to make this available to any veteran but we have to show first that the program is needed so we need people to take advantage of this program


  • Meetings at the capitol over last couple of weeks talking to chairs of different veterans and tax committees. Only three agencies sent priorities list. Will bring it up in business meeting

MN Dept of Veteran Affairs-Commissioner Larry Shellito - Michael Gallucci:

  • Yesterday met with Korean War Veterans from Rochester - they are very engaged and concerned with what is happening
  • Sense different atmosphere in legislature
  • Future of veterans homes in Minnesota is biggest concern right now
  • Mike has done research and coordinated with people in DC. The money at the federal level is low. It is being sectored down. Our decision is that we have to finish Minneapolis.
  • 7 locations want a facility. If we do not finish Minneapolis it will cause infrastructure issues that will cause safety issues.
  • Goal is to get money to finish Minneapolis and pre design money to build one more facility in out-state MN
  • Mike is working with Administration in determining where the most veterans can be reached with a facility
  • Minneapolis was a 3 stage project. They are now breaking ground on 17 North and that money is spoken for but phase 3 (kitchens, tunneling, etc.) is what we need funding to complete.
  • Issue for me is creating a sense of urgency because in the metro the sports stadium is high priority but veteran housing is not.
  • Life issues include electricity, being able to transport food and supplies, maintaining quality of life, heat through the tunnels.
  • Working with project manager to create a lay out of every site based on our assessment of every site that wants a home.
  • Rochester is off the table

MN Veterans 2010 Legislative Info - Mike McElhiney:

  • Governor released budget bill - 46 veterans bill introduced
  • New template that is supposed to be filled out by agencies relative to bills and budget issues that was used this year for the first time.
    • Feedback from this system is that there is not enough information for legislatures to understand what the governor is trying to accomplish
    • Caused a delay in things progressing on the Hill
    • The committees do not have to have the information until 15 days after the governor submits his budget bill
    • February forecast should come out the third or fourth week in February and will give everyone a better idea of how much is available to spend.
    • A lot of business has not progressed at this point and we will not see any veterans bills progress until after the forecast
    • Social issues: gun control
  • Bills that MVDA introduced are:
    • Increased funding in IT - 5 million increase in 2 years to bring up to date
    • Increase in operational funds for Southeast Cemetery
    • Military Affairs cut Gold Star program for families so we have taken on the program and are asking for 100,000 a year to operate
    • MN GI bill expansion - so GI is available to all veterans. Again trying to expand this year because it is under utilized
    • Expand CVSO grants. Up to 1.5 million to combine with the operational grant. This has been reduced by the governor to about .5 million
    • Asked to generate some Honor Guard funding in amount of 200,000 per year. Department of Health shows that 10,000 per state are dying every year who are not asking for services
    • Two new initiatives to generate revenue for emerging needs: Implement a lottery ticket run for 12 weeks and market will tell if we can continue to run it. Trends show it should generate 840,000 per year. Veteran’s license plates “Support our Veterans” 5 new plates and $30.00 donations for plates. We see about 50% of revenues
  • We will not be competing with other agencies for funding

MN Military Affairs - COL Sandy Best:

  • Recently completed trip to visit Washington representative on Army Combatable Use Buffer and military construction. Around Camp Ripley when there is training creates noise and dust. Program ensure there is not encroachment around the area so we can operate around the clock.
    • Regional training center so full operation is critical
    • Educated members on Buffer
    • Making progress with partners: DNR, Board of Water and Soil Resources in Morrison County and land owners around the area. People give money for land use agreement
  • Hosted congressional staff members at the 133 airlift wing this morning - educated on Beyond the Yellow Ribbon. Representatives from Brooklyn Park network gave briefing.
  • This evening is the Governor’s State of the State
    • MN National Guard will be present
  • February 12 Annual Legislative Workshop in Washington - speakers including Chief of National Guard Bureau. Will brief that in the future
  • This month marks the Norwegian Exchange - the longest partnership with another country. 40th Anniversary so holding a banquet on February 17th. Also celebrating in Norway
  • One of MN National Guard attorneys recognized (Major Lindsey Olson) class action suit that helped 50,000 military members who had unfair banking practices. Selected as 2012 lawyer of the year
  • Don - 6 months ago agency received quarries about sequestration. Have received documents from Army and Air Force showing impact of sequestration on Army and Air Force.
    • Most important thing congress can do is pass a long term solution
  • Governor’s office has supported everything the agency has asked for.
  • Agency budget is currently 20 million per year and half goes into incentives. In addition we process about 40 million of federal money through cooperative agreement. Our concern is that funding will have a dramatic impact on security operations.
  • Annette - As of today there are 212 Yellow Ribbon Networks. By end of year all 63 armory and airbase communities will be Yellow Ribbon.
    • Expanding mission to support any service member in Guard or their families
  • Yellow Ribbon Summits:
    • Rochester last Saturday
    • St. Cloud
    • Bloomington
    • Moorhead
    • Duluth
  • Bringing community members and companies together to share best practices and educate on new initiatives
  • Synchronizing efforts
  • 26 Yellow Ribbon companies US Bank hosting Yellow Ribbon seminar in April or May
  • Identified two sustainability factors for Yellow Ribbon Networks:
    • Continue to hear the needs of service members in the community. They want to know what your needs are
    • Recognition - leaders should attend meetings to recognize members
  • Invited to DC February 18th by Army they want to know about the Yellow Ribbon Network. I will be spending a week briefing many different agencies
  • Washington County carrying legislative movement

MN Assistance Council for Veterans (MACV) - Kathy Vitalis - Nathaniel Saltz:

  • Stand down information: Adding a new stand down in Detroit Lakes on April 25th location will be released soon
  • Metro stand down on August 6th and 7th at Boy Scout base camp at Fort Snelling where it has been last couple years
  • Put in a renewal on SSVF grant. Allowing a two year renewal this year instead of a one year. Also allowing an expanded grant ask. Requesting additional funding for County and City jails.
  • Additional resources to expand MACV legal program. In 2012 we served 1400 veterans compared to 967 veterans in 2011. This is due to the expansion.
  • Bills in legislature:
    • Senate 0055 and House 0145 asking for additional 250,000 for funding. Bills carried by Senator Chamberlain and Rep. Newton. Both bills have bipartisan authorship

Military Action Group (MAG) - Jerry Kyser:

  • Grassroots organization to help put forth some legislative initiative. Talking about the taxation elimination for second career military. Spoke with Rep. Murphy at her office to discuss how we are going ot do that
  • Tax credit legislation for anyone who hires a veteran
  • Unemployed veteran: 1500 tax deduction and service disabled veteran 3000 tax deduction
    • Working with bipartisan group on this with Rep Wells and Anderson on Senate side
  • Want to be able to recognize all ethnic groups from Southeast Asia that helped the US, not just the Hmong. Working on this but there is some push back on that.
  • Supporting Yellow Ribbon legislation
  • Change in veterans preference governments: passed a bill last year that allowed counties and cities to give veterans preference in hiring
  • State property tax for widows and widowers extending
  • Rank choice voting bill making it easier for veterans to vote when deployed
  • Metro council and MN sports facility organizations have never included veterans in their programs for getting contracts. I met with them yesterday and made some progress with this. It is not in legislation but they are going to make Metro council contracts and work with stadiums.
    • Need to schedule a meeting so all commanders know what is going on and who qualifies for this
    • They want to know how many veterans we can get involved
    • “Construction Managers, The Vikings and authorities will perform a specific outreach in Minnesota”
    • Sports Authority rules what happens and the Vikings are only tenants so we are getting in on the ground floor of this.
    • Part of this situation is who is going to fund the certification process of certifying the veteran owned businesses - that is the current hold-up
    • We are suggesting that they use the template MN DOT uses for certification

VA Regional Office - Ron Woolery:

  • Excited for first 16 people using veterans benefit management system - electronic claims processing program. Will be using specifically for claims from electronic submission. 8 people in pension and 8 people in compensation being trained and 10 people from veteran service organizations have been trained on VBMS. Hope to roll out late fall station wide
  • Construction continues hope to have access to ground floor late August
  • Continuing to work closely with the state and counties in getting access to some electronic programs. Getting counties to work with Share map virtual VA giving access to everything vet service rep sees when doing a claim.
  • Nomination form for women’s veteran of the year? Forms available email to contact is with questions

VISN 23 - Janet Murphy- Director VISN 23 - Sandra Horsman:

  • Compensation claims back logs - working hard to get those under control
  • Currently VA has initiative in cooperation with veteran’s benefits admin and veterans’ health admin. Acceptable Clinical Evidence initiative which allows VHA to look at the records without having to bring the veteran in. Goal is to eliminate back log and process within 125 days - goal of completion is 2015
  • Women’s veterans concerned with VA attention to women. Minneapolis received 217,000 grants to enhance women’s programs
  • National Salute to Veterans Patients Week Feb. 10 through 16. All VA Health care systems will have special events.
  • All facilities are taking influenza precautions.
    • Each year in the US the flu causes more than 226,000 hospitalizations and 26,000 deaths
  • Reminder that February is Black History Month so help in systems to celebrate
  • VA is trying to increase number of veterans hired but not a lot of candidates so encourage veterans to apply

Mpls VA HCS - Acting Director - Judith L. Johnson-Mekota:

  • In the time I have been in this position we have a strong budget so we had to look at strategic hired initiatives. We had to look hard at women’s services. We also need to look at how to position ourselves for 2014
  • Construction:
    • 53 days until parking ramp construction begins
    • Redesigning visitors entrance/expansion
      • Taking out revolving door and moving reception area closer as well
      • Still in planning process
    • Acquisition program changed in some respects. Affects clinical operations at Minneapolis VA. Have a team looking into this so we can maintain services
  • Chris Erickson retired February 1st so we are reorganizing to cover his spot
  • Have 3 grants for women’s health. Looking at Women’s Health Primary Care Residency. Telehealth pharmacy support as well with grants.
  • Handicap parking during construction is on the South side. Will bring info with to next meeting.
  • Are you proactive to hiring more doctors? We had a CVOC meeting about 4 months ago and the entire FT associated have been approved. We primarily focus on PAC team members and other providers
  • Maplewood CVOC scheduled to open on March 1

St Cloud VA HCS - Director Barry Bahl:

  • Looking at doing things for the future since budgets are good right now. If you have ideas send me an email
  • The VA has a two year budget so sequestration will not necessarily effect the VA system but some things such as IT may be affected
  • Contracting is an issue. If you see anything or hear anything on the street feel free to let us know. We are working on contracting
  • FTE in St. Cloud has hired additional staff in key areas. We have been able to recruit Radiologists. We have a dentist, podiatrist, and nurses have also been hired.
  • Still struggle to find family practice, psychiatrists please help us recruit
  • Construction is ongoing - a lot of projects.
    • Starting bidding on a rehab building
    • Kitchen project is back out on the street
    • New psychiatry building
    • Expanding pharmacy
    • Audiology almost done
    • Dental expansion is ongoing
    • Nursing home building about half done
    • About 100 million is ongoing and new construction
  • American Legion visit in April. National visit and we are one of only several sites and they are looking into women’s veterans issues
  • Friday April 15th at 10am is the Salute to Hospitalized Veterans in the auditorium. Large group visiting patients and touring facility
  • Windmill not completed yet and we have not accepted the project. Sensors are not working due to crossed wires
  • Drilled over 1500 wells so far. We will continue around the campus
  • Trying to find a bidder on a homeless drop in center in downtown St Cloud area. If you know someone that has a building that they would lease to VA please have them contact us

Ft Snelling Cemetery - Artis Parker Director or Brad Butler:

  • Director interns for winter operations this week
  • January 412 interments
    • To date 1672 in FY
    • Total of 202,688
    • 6 female in January
    • Rifle Squad honors for 180 services
    • A little above average this year

Senator Amy Klobuchar - Tim Cossalter:

  • Mental health issue is something we have to keep our eyes on. Even if we return and go through a hard time and even consider suicide it can negatively impact our ability to get a gun to hunt even 20 years down the line. Any ideas you have on this feel free to share them.
  • Currently in the 113th Congress - every bill pending from 112th Congress are scrapped and we start from scratch.
  • We are going through the scrap to find the ones that still make sense
  • Veterans to Paramedics we were not successful in last year but we are determining if we want to reword and come back with that bill
  • Veterans Care Act being looked at re-engaging which provides incentives for medical health professionals to work in the VA system
  • Veteran Student loan bill which allows grace period on payments while deployed. Reintroducing that bill
  • Guard Reserve Mental Health Access bill - when troops come back from deployment they can spend an initial 2 weeks or 30 days going to drill so they are not just thrown back into community. The Senator is very supportive but there is cost to this bill. NGAUS supportive as well. They would have to make a mental health professional available for those periods.

Senator Al Franken- Nate Arch - Not Present

7th District Representative - Collin Peterson - Al Loehr - Not Present

1st District Representative - Tim Walz - Shawn Schloesser:

  • Handouts going around with my contact info on the bottom
  • Last year the House put in about 5000 bills and of those the President signed 115 into law
  • We were very successful in getting 4 bills into laws which Walz supported
  • Minneapolis VA released solicitation for CVOC in Southern MN including areas in Fairbault, Freeborn, Mauer, and Waseca - Contrast is out on that as of January 16
  • One bill introduced protecting children of veterans - when affordable care act made into law it did not touch CHAMP or TRICARE. Now at 23 children are removed from parent’s coverage. Trying to level playing field for all veteran children

2nd District Representative - John Kline - Chaz Johnson:

  • Congressman had the opportunity to present Legion of Honor medals to two gentlemen. One from Shakopee and one from Mendota Heights. You need a number of awards to even be eligible for this award.
  • Had meet and greet and invited service academy kids and 24 of 26 were able to attend.
  • Kline is supporting three bills relevant to military:
    • Bill HR342 guaranteed paychecks for American Military Family Act - covers interest if meet debt limit and second one covers military pay and allowances and third covers overseas contingency operations
    • HR318 to authorize a wall of remembrance for Korean War veterans memorial
    • HR258 stolen Valor Act of 2013 - addresses knowingly wearing medals that you did not earn with the intent to gain anything of value

3rd District Representative - Eric Paulson - John Paul Yates - Not Present

4th District Representative - Betty McCollum - Connie Haddeland:

  • Some congressional staff spent morning having breakfast with the National Guard. There was a great presentation on a Beyond Yellow Ribbon focusing on businesses that have engaged employees of the organization.
  • With the new Congress comes a new reorganization of the House. Congresswoman will continue serving on House Appropriations. Also on Interior Environment and federal agencies under it. She has left military construction and veterans affairs and is proud to have been appointed to Defense Appropriations sub committee
  • Scheduled service academy on April 16th at Mounds Views High School - open to people outside of the 4th and students

5th District Representative - Keith Ellison - Mike Siebenaler:

  • Been talking to United Health about upcoming transfer from contractors to TriCare services under one health system. We want to make sure that they understand what TriCare has been doing for people and make the transition smooth. If you have concerns let us know
  • Minneapolis Park and Rec board are doing an education movie series starting this month. They will have a filming on the 19th at 6pm at Green Central Gym 34th and 4th Ave S in Minneapolis - This will be an ongoing series every Wed. for the rest of the year
  • Minneapolis is on the way to becoming a Yellow Ribbon Community
  • Received an invitation to Toskiki event on the 8th from 4:30 - 6

6th District Representation - Michele Bachmann - Nicole Severson - Ill Not Present

8th District Representative - Rick Nolan - Brynn Sias:

  • Brought contact sheets. Introduction
  • Still opening offices - have an office in Duluth with 3 staffers
  • Opened office in Brainerd and also in Center City
  • The 8th district is larger than 10 states
  • Letter from Congressman:
    • The needs of veterans are important to me and staff
    • Working closely with Walz to advance interests of all those who serve our nation
    • A lot of work in training, healthcare and mental healthcare
    • Please take time to relay concerns with Brynn
  • Announcements -
  • The gun issues will hit veterans so keep watching the issues
  • Reminder if want more info for women’s veterans nomination
  • This weekend at Double Tree in Bloomington ROC - estimate about 600 soldiers. This will be all day Saturday

Adjournment / Next Meeting 9:30 A M, 6 March 2013

Business Meeting:

Treasurer’s Report:
Balance according to sheet is 5415.02 for First of February
200 - 250 in checks to deposit for dues
Jerry brought who owes dues and who hasn’t paid

  • Add Mark Carlson as individual member - he paid 50.00
  • I am individual member

Received Fort Snelling Military Museum check
Jewish War Veterans just paid theirs
Anybody that was not here before I have a copy of last year’s annual report; come see me

  • No parking anywhere at the Capitol anymore with the Light rail there. If you go in the next couple days with the gun stuff going on plan to park a few blocks away
  • People were lined up to get in to committee meetings

Approved treasurer report
Move to pay transcriptionist Maggie Scheel - 320.00
Approved payment of 320.00

Old Business

  • Only had three responses back on priorities
    • Need these to take to the Capitol so they know where our priorities are and what is important to us.
  • Next MAG meeting on February 29th
    • Printing brochure/program
  • March 12 is Veteran’s Day at the Capitol

New Business

  • Been to capitol a lot and talked to the veteran’s committee chairs and tax committee people. Most of the issues discussed so far will not involve any money so we should be able to get through this year
  • The only money issues are supporting the MDVA with building their facilities at veteran’s home.
  • We support MACV as well
  • Also have concerns about tax

Julie - I wonder if Charlie Weaver with MN Business Partnership would be a good contact to help push this through. He was on the radio speaking about Governor Dayton’s tax and how it is going to hurt business. Wisconsin is happy about Dayton’s tax because they are luring businesses over to Wisconsin.
Response - We had a meeting scheduled with the Governor until Obama decided to come to MN on Monday. Our meeting was cancelled as a result. Meeting is February 19th at 10am in room 300. We should have the brochure ready for the meeting

  • The Merchant Marine folks are getting low in numbers and wondering about the possibility of excusing their dues.

Move to waive their fees