Meeting Minutes for July 2013

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Announcements - Ralph Donais, Chairman - Jerry Kyser, Vice Chairman.

Last month in legal clinics 87 people were seen and thanks to volunteers each person was able to speak with an attorney

1. Federal Congressional Representatives and Senators

3rd District Representative - Eric Paulson - John Paul Yates

  • HR1864 whistleblower protection regarding sexual assault - the bill passed the House
  • Held reception two weeks ago for 5 academy appointees
  • September 24, Margaret Cavanaugh has organized next academy information night
  • Maple Grove Yellow ribbon committee tonight

6th District Representation - Michele Bachmann - Nicole Pelzer

  • House in session (busiest month) Three amendments into national defense authorization act
    • Marine Embassy Security Group - authorizes additional 10 million to pay for personal and equipment to ensure a congressionally mandated 1000 Marine expansion for the MSG program is properly funded
    • Marine Corp Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force. Crisis response for 16 million to fund overseas Marine activity
    • POW MIA flag amendment which would require federal buildings to fly the POW MIA flag everyday instead of only holidays
  • Co-sponsored HR1865 to amend Title X which addresses sexual abuse in the military
  • Sent out letter regarding POW MIA House resolution 231 which has 20 co-sponsors.

Senator Al Franken - Nicole Ly Came Late towards end of meeting

  • Legislation has changed to include traumatic re injuries for Purple Heart. Will confirm and send out info
  • Completed round table discussions through state about issues involving veterans
    • VA benefits claims back log discussed
  • Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Act
    • Reauthorizes and improves mentally ill offender act which is a bipartisan legislation passed in 2004
    • Improves mental health services to those who come into contact with the criminal justice system
    • Is a piece including resources for veterans
    • Putting flyer in the back

2. State Agencies and MN Veteran Assistance Organizations MN Military Affairs - COL Sandy Best

  • Proclamation this evening for Maple Grove - Secretary Richie giving honor
  • June 19th regional proclamation event at Camp Ripley proclaiming six new Yellow ribbon networks
    • Crow Wing county, Morrison county, City of Buffalo, City of Monticello, company Highway Federal Union and MN Department of Natural Resources
  • Ollions Life Insurance company in August
  • June 26 Yellow Ribbon companies came together to share best practices - hosted by US Bank
  • Ext year the seminar will be held in fall
  • General Grass, chief of National Guard Bureau - will be recognized on October 17th by Metro state university as alumni of the year
  • Metro State University has the highest population of veterans attending in the state and will also be proclaimed as a Yellow Ribbon institution on October 17th
  • This morning a joint economic committee on veteran employment
  • is American corporate partners - non-profit which helps transition from armed services to civilian work force
    • Nationwide program but they have a MN chapter
    • Looking for proteges for the program
  • Program for military children with MN Viking Kyle Rudolph. Website for program is Open July 18 and 19 and opened 50 free spots for military children.
    • Info went out through Military Action Group distribution and Ralph sent info out this morning
    • Program will be cancelled if not enough sponsors by this Frida
  • Monday next week furloughing starts for technicians of MN National Guard. All people in capacity will be furloughed for next 11 Mondays
    • Major impact on mission readiness

MN Assistance Council for Veterans (MACV) - Kathy Vitalis

  • Stand down dates:
    • Minneapolis at Fort Snelling Base Camp August 6 and 7 - flyers available
      • Also have cards available
    • August 22 in Virginia in Minors Memorial Building
    • Duluth is August 23 (flyers for that as well) at The Depot
    • September 25 at the Bemidji Armory
    • September 26th in Grand Rapids at the National Guard Armory
    • October 8th in Marshall
    • Mankato on November 12
  • Annual MACV Dinner is September 20th
  • HVRP Grant which employs homeless veterans - got metro grant renewed for second year. Got Duluth grant for next year and possibility of three years renewal

Vets Employment & Training Service [VETS] - David Seay

  • TAP organization - GPS Goals Plans and Success in response to Obama’s address at Washington Navy Yard. Allows service members to exit career ready. Supports service member goals for transitioning
    • Critical job search skills
    • Crosswalk between military skills and civilian job skills and abilities
    • Revamp VA benefits
  • Department of Labor employment workshops at Inver Grove Heights on July 30 through August 1 for active and July 17 - 19th for retirees
  • VWRAP - total applications are at 125,563 from June 27. Approved 108,925 and other is 98. Total in current training: 54,737 and we have processed one appeal for denial since last meeting
  • Proposed bill under discussion to extend VWRAP through June 2014
  • No spike in filing numbers

Military Action Group (MAG) - Jerry Kyser

  • High profile veterans business with Vikings Stadium - United Veterans Legislative Counsel was asked by MN Sports Facilities Authority to be part of process for veterans. Vets not written into the contract but when Mortinson signed contract to build stadium we became part of that process and we asked for 10% of contracts which will be 90 million and 10% workforce or 7500 veterans working. Been assured we are equal partners with minorities and women.
    • Started process in February and now have come up with director of equity coordinator, Alex Tiddle. We will be meeting with him on Friday. We don’t have expertise to find out who is a veteran owned business so we made agreement with Veterans Small Business Foundation. Instead of having the veteran owned business have VA certification which can take a couple of years we are looking for a way to shorten the process
    • Met with Mortinson (John Wood, Brent Lecture, and Jim Sinna, Lynne Littlejohn) so we are on the radar. We still need 100+ organizations
    • Since Alex used to work for DOT and now works for Sports Facilities Authority, second in command Michael Johnson is working with us to make sure MN DOT and State of MN has more veterans owned businesses getting contracts
    • Veterans seem to have to take more steps than minorities or women so we are trying to close that gap
    • Meeting on Friday to clarify changes they are willing to make to assure we are getting 10%. Biggest thing to do is start the certification process with the VA. The goal is to bring certification time down to 30 days from 6-18 months
    • Businesses will be in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd tier. Companies who want to be participants have to start the process now
    • The application is online at It will start with the VA certification process
  • Involved with 150th Civil war reenactment of MN charge last week June 30 through July. We had 87 people involved.¬† Many representatives involved

3. Federal Agencies

VA Regional Office - Director Antione Waller

  • VA continues to be in the news. Intense scrutiny over back log of claims
    • Processing in June as a nation we completed nearly 65k older claims. Those who have been waiting an average of 2 years.
    • In MN area we did not have that many at all. We were able to process 27 of our 2 year old claims. That inventory is complete
    • We helped IL with over 1300 claims
    • We are going to now focus on 1 year old claims
    • Continue to process priority claims -terminally ill, homeless, or POW claims
    • Also processing fully developed claims
    • Will process about 8000 claims from IL, TX, and AZ hopefully by the end of September
    • Our goal is to process all claims within 125 days
    • 43% of our employees are veterans
  • Construction at Whipple Federal Building. Houses most employees: Opening first and ground floors hopefully by September

VISN 23 - Judith Johnson-Mekota

  • Network is planning for FY14 budget. Finance Counsel will be meeting next week to make a recommendation to our Executive Leadership Counsel.
    • We align our resources because we have a strong budget for our facilities.
      o Continue to focus on homeless and mental health initiatives. Also focusing on women’s health. Expanding tele ICU to outside network.
    • Looking at real time information¬† system
    • Still working on CVOCs and getting proper primary and specialty care for patients
  • FY 15 internal budget briefing are being held and things are going well with that
  • FY 13 budget briefings will be about September to make sure we have executed FY 13 budget.
  • Purchasing a lot of equipment. Ventilators and dental equipment
  • VA working on airborne hazards and open pit burn registry. January 10 this year the VA was given one year to implement. OF, OIF, OAD, and 1990-91 Golf War Veterans. They can go in and report health concerns. Makes sure the VA can monitor and enhance knowledge on exposures. Left update on table
  • Updating websites nationally. Patients have trouble navigating current website
  • Rural health and CVOCs are a major priority for strategic initiatives
    • Funding for CVOCs have been approved
    • Southwest metro and Southern MN CVOCs in planning

VAHCS Mpls - Director Patrick J. Kelly

  • Been in position for 4 weeks. From Mankato and was director of VA healthcare system in Sioux Falls after 29 years in Navy
  • This year MN will likely go over 100,000 veterans we take care of.
  • Parking garage started April 1 and is an 18 month project
    • Both veterans and staff are adjusting well to having less parking
    • Be completed fall of 2014
    • Staff and students are parking off campus so veterans have closer parking
  • In twin ports we have a 10 million dollar innovation project which has recently been completed
    • Ribbon cutting this Friday in Twin Ports from 11-1
  • Changes to Hibbing CVOC
    • Now using Sterling Medical as a vendor
    • Moving into a new site at Ely
    • Cook clinics discontinuing services
    • Open house for dedication is on July 26
  • Two new CVOCs
    • June 26th proposals closed for Southwest metro and Southern MN
    • Evaluating locations
    • Hoping CVOCs will open early in 2014
    • Also have mental health services and hope to expand into radiation and physical therapy. We want to take the healthcare to where the veterans live
  • Left business cards in the back.
  • For veterans in remote location who cannot get transportation to a facility, the telehealth maybe a good option

VAHCS St Cloud VA Medical Center - Director Barry Bahl Director

  • Reminder - We do not turn anyone away unless we know they have somewhere safe to go but we follow the rules provided to us by Congress. If the patient does not qualify than they are billed.
  • We have 24/7 coverage so if they come in the middle of the night they will be seen
  • Picnic lunch after meeting
  • St. Cloud is predominately outpatient but we sleep about 350 patients a night.
  • Construction: Renovating nursing home building
    • Added on to pharmacy, audiology
    • Underway in building inpatient psych building
    • Funded for adding another floor
    • Building 28 is expanding
    • Finishing construction of MRI
    • Funded for imaging center
    • Designing cottages - long term care nursing home beds
    • Added 15 beds to ALS
    • 60 other projects underway or starting
    • Replacing trees lost during last storm
    • Adding dentists and podiatrist
    • Continuing to look for psychiatrist
    • Expanding services in day surgery program

Ft Snelling Cemetery - Brad Butler Assistant Director

  • Falling prey to road construction 34th avenue has 1 ramp closed. Close interchange down while on the bridge. Handout available to show construction dates
    • Opening back gate on Post Road but it is not well marked
  • Memorial wall not yet completed - waiting for acceptance
  • Construction on shelter 4. Do not have a start or projected end date
  • June 476 interments
    • 3642 for fiscal year
    • 5 female veterans
    • Honor guard performed 241 services

Eagles Healing Nest - Melony Butler

  • Opened just under a year ago and would like to invite everyone
  • Started renovating buildings in Sauk Center last year and we have been able to provide veterans housing
  • This weekend we are starting third building. Hope to have operational in less than a month

Military History Museum Camp Ripley- Jeff Thielen

  • Trying to make veterans more aware of our existence
  • Establishing a database of MN veterans who want to provide their information and it will be available online
  • Non-profit so we are looking for supporters
  • Making a video to increase awareness

National Association of Atomic Veterans - James Hamann

  • Ionation Radiation Registry
    • Each hospital has a representatives
    • Brochures available
    • Need more specialists in the radiation program

4. Announcements - We are also on Twitter

5. Meeting in Recess for 10 minutes

6. Business Meeting

  • June 1st balance $5,316.54
    • Expenses for transcription and parking pass at the capitol and flowers for Al’s funeral totaling $483.50
    • End balance of $4,833.04
  • Still trying to determine what technical equipment to get for Jerry and Ralph

New Business:

  • August 27th at State Fair military appreciation day
    • UVLC and MAG do not do a table at the event
    • Flag raising is involved the same day as well as a parade
  • MN arranged to have a missing man formation flyover but the State Fair people said they will pay for it
  • Keep sending items for the website

Adjournment / Next Meeting 9:30 AM - Wednesday 7 August, 2013