Meeting Minutes for March 2013

Minutes Header

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

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

Greetings: Recognition of visitors and guests -

  • Headquarters 88th Regional Support Command Office in Portland Point, WI, General A. Barry Deputy Commander, T. Dorton, McDuffard
  • Former Senator Ted Daly
    • Veterans Voices Award - Press release two weeks ago, just rolling out program. Through MN Humanity Center they have different programs to make sure all MN voices are heard and included in collective dialogue of society. Hearing now that veterans do not feel they have a voice. Want to recognize all veterans so for Veterans Voices award 25 veterans 40 and under will be recognized Sept. 11, 2013 at MN Humanity Center in St. Paul. Enlisting help to get word out in MN. Want 25 men or women 40 and under from any service who have contributed to society on top of their service. Also working on fundraising so if organization has or wants to contribute funding
    • We want to celebrate what our veterans do for the community

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

  • Veterans Free Day at the History Center is Saturday March 23. Free day for veterans to see center from 12-4 for no cost.
  • Some volunteers for honor flight made video traveling the country - will be playing in two theaters one on Monday in Roseville and one on Wed. in Oakville. Fundraiser for MN Honor Flight TC gets $3 off cost. Buy tickets online or at the theater. Flyers available and also include upcoming Honor flight information.

1. State Agencies and MN Veteran Assistance Organizations

MN Dept of Veteran Affairs - Barb O’Reilly

  • Career Fair in Brainerd April 18, April 10 Career Fair at University of St Thomas with the Multicultural Diversity Forum
  • Still applications being accepted for VRAP program. For veterans ages 35-60 for training
  • March is Women’s veterans month different programs being offered at the VA
  • March 22 at Metropolitan State University there is a student veterans conference and will focus on employment and women veterans

Veterans 2010 Legislative Info - Mike McElhiney

  • Commissioner cannot be present today
  • 51 bills are out relative to veterans interest
  • There are certain committee deadline dates and the first deadline date is next Friday. Any bills not passed through one house by then will be killed. Governor’s budget bill:
    • Just starting to look at bonding - have until May 21st to get that going
    • Requesting institutions give a preference to veterans (bill)
    • Resolutions for POW
    • Several tax bills have moved a little that went through House and been sent on to taxes. If they do not get to a floor vote by next Friday they will be dead
    • Couple of Flag bills
    • Several military bills
    • Hunting bills
    • Smaller pieces of the governor’s budget relative to homeless veterans and county veterans services
    • IT improvement that will affect the agency as a whole
    • Grants for CVSO’s - enabling them
    • MN GI bill expansion to authorize use for all areas of veterans to help in unemployment numbers
    • Permanent honor guard funding - looking for 200000 annually
    • Gold star funding
    • Two additional revenue generating bills - veterans lottery ticket based on market on how long to circulate and 5 new veterans plates
  • Veterans Day on the Hill next Tuesday - Rally at Rotunda and Capital starting at 930 until 1030. Agenda is almost finalized
  • Coming into 50th anniversary of start of Vietnam war and MN Twins will recognize that by inviting Vietnam veterans to come out to raise the flag. Contact Anna to be involved in that or MDVA.communications.state.mn.us
  • Bill tracker is not sent out weekly it is a supplement on our legislative drive. You have to log in to the www.mdva.state.mn.us and go to our legislative tab to pull that up
    • Going through transitions on how we distribute information

MN Military Affairs - COL Sandy Best (Annette Kuiper Director of Military Outreach)

  • Chaplain John Morris headed to DC to work for National Guard Bureau for three years. New Chaplain Phillip Winn. He will be coming to meetings to meet everyone. Morris will be working for Head Chaplain
  • February 18th had the pleasure of representing MN in Washington. Met with all DOD agencies throughout the Pentagon and white House promoting MN Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Program. We are the only state that has a structured program to connect our communities and all resources to meet service members, veterans, and military families.
    • Met with Michelle Obama’s Joining Forces team and when done with the meeting the Executive Director for Michelle Obama and the Executive Director for Joe Biden were impressed
    • As the results of the DC trip we are managing all communication coming in
    • As soon as they figure out their travel budgets they want to visit Minnesota
    • Brought representative from the Best Buy Yellow Ribbon network and Brooklyn Park Yellow Ribbon network
  • Next regional proclamation event is June 19th at 3pm at Camp Ripley; hosted by the St Cloud Yellow Ribbon network. Always hold regional proclamation when there are new Yellow Ribbon networks to proclaim- it is always held in an already proclaimed network to help them sustain their efforts. Honoring Morrison County area, Montevideo, and Buffalo as well as Brainerd. Lt. Governor will be presiding
  • Held symposium with all of the agencies to talk about how to reach out to those returning from active duty. We are connecting with new recruits right away and connecting them with a Yellow ribbon network
  • Couple new communities having community kick-offs. Tonight a kick off in Golden Valley for the cities of Crystal, Golden Valley, New Hope, and Robbinsdale at Golden Valley VFW tonight from 7-8pm
  • Working with Hennepin County to form a Yellow Ribbon County network.
  • Yellow Ribbon summits going very well. Seven Saturday summits in which we gather all Yellow Ribbon companies and communities together to educate, recognize, and share best practices. Third is this Saturday in St Cloud at St Cloud state from 9am-2pm. Sent invites through Ralph. On the beyondtheyellowribbon.org page there is a registration form for the summit.
    • This is third of seven. We will hold them in Marshall, Duluth, Mankato, and Moorhead through May 4, 2013
  • Having really good meeting with the Mayor’s Office in Minneapolis. In April they are setting a date to come together to work on an action plan for Yellow Ribbon. It is slower because it’s our biggest community to date
  • Since our DC trip I have received phone calls from four other states about Yellow ribbon because of how well its working in Minnesota

MN Assistance Council for Veterans (MACV) - Kathy Vitalis
Regional Director Jimmy Collier - Homeless veteran organization-

  • Legal clinic for veterans having trouble with Child Support next Tuesday at Mpls VA second floor atrium.
  • Opened first female veterans house in January. Two weeks ago we placed a female veteran in that house in St Paul
  • Reminder annual stand down is August 6 and 7 at the Boy Scout base camp in Fort Snelling
  • Kathy Vitalis testified on our bills in front of House committee on Monday and was moved forward for possible inclusion

Military Action Group (MAG) - Jerry Kyser

  • Attempting to set money aside for CVOS’
  • Passed on the tax credits for businesses hiring veterans. Up to a 3000 tax credit depending on the status of veteran going to work for the company
  • Second career military passed on for possible inclusion into the omnibus bill
    • Omnibus bill in past has not been good they tend to disappear
  • Testified on Monday and there was only one other UVLC person there (Nick). Please get the word out that we need people to come to the committee meetings. We need to get people down there so they can see there is a true interest in what we are doing
  • Becoming involved in trying to expedite veteran businesses being certified as veteran owned businesses so they can bid on contracts like the new stadium and renovation of Target Center, etc.
    • MN Sports Facilities Authority comes up with Veterans Business Enterprises, Minority Business Enterprises, and Women Business Enterprises. The process of going through certification is always one step extra for the veterans. With veterans we have to go through the legislature to get certification
    • The only way to get certification right now is Veterans VA certified CVE Association. We are meeting on Friday at 9am with the Sports Authority to get this passed, it says that to “ensure maximum participation of the veterans in the multi-purpose stadium construction agreement” But it normally takes 6-18 months which is not time efficient for the stadium contracts.
    • UVLC has been designated as the clearing house for this. It will not cost anything. Mortinson Construction Company (Both Navy veterans) are excited. Jim Finley is dealing with the workforce making sure 10% of the 7500 people working on the stadium are veterans. We need to get rolling on this which is what we are meeting about on Friday. We have to meet all the requirements the VA has without going through the process. We can do that by going out and visiting entities here. The organization that is going to do this is the Veterans Small Business Foundation; they put together the process for reaching out. We are going to look for private money to do this.
    • The companies have to have submitted their paperwork to the VA and we are just trying to get that through more quickly. We are not circumventing the process.
    • Thank Michelle Camhaugen and Erin Coski they are the ones who got this rolling

2. Federal Agencies

VA Regional Office - Not present

VISN 23 - Janet Murphy

  • Washington is closed down due to 5 inches of snow
  • Sequestration - VA is not impacted thanks to hardworking delegations across the country. We still need to help where we can for state agencies and county agencies who may be affected. Impact may not be immediate but will come down the line.
  • Outbreaks of Legionella in hospitals but all VA hospitals were required to do a water assessment and test was clear in all hospitals. Also requiring all facilities to update plans for water systems. Some sites across country have old plans not kept up to date which makes assessments difficult and identify problems.
  • Mental health positions 85% toward hiring but having trouble finding psychiatrists. Please keep word out.
  • Congress interested in how VA manages scheduling. There was a scheduling hearing yesterday and some concerns that veterans are waiting too long or we are not being truthful on wait times. Also concerns with delays in consults: When physician makes a recommendation to specialist veterans never see specialist. Looked at several of these areas over 120 day period and found that St. Cloud had zero problems. Iowa City highest levels and found one case where there was harm to veteran due to delay. Minneapolis had 15 but no harm to veterans due to delay. Of about 400 consults over 120 days there was one where potential harm was done due to the delay. Now looking regularly at delays to ensure it does not continue. Goal to keep delays within 30 days.
  • Gave hand out -
    • This week is patient Safety Awareness Week. Always trying to stay on top of patient safety. We rely a lot on veterans to help us with that by letting us know when they see something.

Mpls VA HCS - Eric Stahlhonska - COO for seven months.

  • Director search: Name went forward to Washington. Expect updates in next couple of months.
  • Positive press – Star Tribune covered director of women’s health program
  • Minneapolis VA received grants from three special programs: Expanding Women’s Health Tele-pharmacy, Mini residency for primary care nursing, and maternity care coordination tele-health pilot program.
  • Minneapolis VA has been home to Brain Sciences Center and has received national and international attention. Looking at PTSD and identified biological markers that help to identify individuals who have been exposed to trauma and never develop PTSD. Expecting a lot more research on this.
  • CVOC -
    • Southern MN VA clinic has gotten the green light. Anticipate to open late in 2013 or early 2014. Located in Southern Counties Fairbault, Freeborne, Mauer, or Waseca. Will be a contract clinic except mental health which will be staffed by Minneapolis VA.
    • Maplewood clinic now open for business
      • Open House Friday March 15 from 1-4pm at 1725 Legacy Parkway, Maplewood
      • Adding space to new clinics; adding laboratory, audiology, and radiology. Currently care for 4000 veterans and hope to increase with larger clinics
    • Twin Ports in final stages of remodeling; completing this summer. Adding specialty services including audiology and physical therapy
    • Hibbing: new contract announced in next few weeks.
    • Chippewa Valley received national approval for expansion from 10000 sq ft to 12000 sq feet.
  • Minneapolis had reviews:
    • Annual Workplace Evaluation. A team came for a week to look at all different clinical programs. Provide good advice regarding credentialing, privileging, evaluation. They also made recommendations for advanced directives. Identified strengths and overall very positive. Identified that they have repeat findings at many sites. In Minneapolis we make them work to find issues that have not been addressed. Some strengths are medical record review process, internal systems to improve readiness, and use of provider specific data.
    • Need to focus on meeting the changing needs of veterans. Some recent changes include: Operating Room booms, parking lot resurfacing, floor replacement, and irrigation replacement, replace window gaskets. Building 9 renovations. Added four Operatories to the dental clinic and opened final phase of GI Hemic renovation, started Hybrid OR design.
    • One project that will impact you is the parking structure. April 1st it will be taped off and we will lose spots. Will gain 400 spots when complete in 18 months. Taking internal steps to make this easier, encouraging offsite parking. Told contractors and students they have to park offsite, using carpools and van pools. Also encouraging others to park at Fort Snelling and take the shuttle with reimbursement. Also sending out maps for relocated handicap spots. Will probably be difficult for the first months. Information up on the website.
  • February 14th was National Salute to Veteran Patients: Political guests, Beauty Queens, VSO’s state and county, and VA staff. Distributed over 2200 valentines made by school children.
  • Dramatically altering the impression when walking into the Atrium. With the parking structure we will direct traffic to main entrance instead of outpatient entrance. Taking out planters and putting in kiosks. We will have outside escorts to help patients from car into the building. Will take 6 months to complete. Adding seating and additional flooring. Calling it “First Impressions” project
    • Main entrance will be open through renovation. We have not decided what entrance to keep open on the evenings and weekends.

St Cloud VA HCS - Barry

  • Mark Brown - Military Order of the Purple Heart:
    • Present St. Cloud VA a check for $1000
  • Each St Cloud CVOS is engaging in tele health awareness. (flyers in back of room). One event on March 20 from 10-2 goal is to make veterans aware of what tele health can do to keep them healthy. Several advantages in appropriate manner; increases access to care so veterans can do something other than hang out at the hospital. Starting events Thursday in Alexandria and March 12 in Brainerd, March 21 in Montevideo. Will have equipment so veterans can check that out.
  • Now have two radio shows in St Cloud - veteran organizations looking for platform to reach audience please let me know and we can get you on. One show on KNSI and Voices for Veterans on WJON.
  • Hired a contracting liaison that will help us resolve some of the ongoing contracting issues in St Cloud and move some projects forward.
    • MRI project progressing machine may be delivered later this month or early April
    • Dental project moving forward
    • Pharmacy phase 1 of three complete. Shifted pharmacy into the new space. Beginning process of renovating current pharmacy space. Should almost double space
    • Audiology in new space, all six booths installed
    • Building 49 project; totally gutted one half of building and reframed into private rooms and bathrooms. Sheetrock is going on now.
    • Soon as ground thaws ribbon cutting for mental health building
    • Continue to shop area for property to lease for a homeless drop-in center. Had it out for solicitation a couple of times without success but are continuing on that
    • Ambulatory surgery center has now conducted over 2000 procedures in new center since opened
    • Reconfiguring one operating room set up to be a urology procedure room. Moving that table out
    • Planning to open some after-hours clinics (throughout VA). Anticipate holding on March 26 designated to women

Ft Snelling Cemetery - Artis Parker Director or Brad Butler

  • Performed 290 interments in February
    • 4 female
  • Honors for 147 veterans
  • Number 9 storage tanks just completed so underground fuel tanks are compliant with state regulation
  • Survey completed for shelter four but do not have an idea if it will be torn down or reconstructed
  • Will not start on wall again until the thaw
  • Excel be on grounds in spring doing upgrades to the electrical facilities
  • Last month visit from congressional staffers of VA foreign center veterans affairs committee. Toured facility and were impressed

3. Federal Congressional Representatives and Senators

Senator Amy Klobuchar - Tim Cossalter

  • Last month list went out of bills senator is working on: Those bills are being worked on but due to timing intro of bill happens throughout the year and may not have a bill number right now
    • S240 reserve retirement employment credit correction act: A lot of Iraqi and Afghanistan reservists did not get credit for early retirement. This bill corrects that so any veteran impacted by that error will receive the credit. Support on both sides so we are optimistic - goes back to 2008
    • S294 Ruth Moore act improves disability compensation evaluation procedure for veterans with mental health conditions related to sexual trauma. Should make it easier for VA to deal with those who have issues with military sexual trauma. Bill states that “notwithstanding the fact that there is no official record or such incurrence or aggravation to that end should resolve every reasonable doubt in favor of the veteran.” "Absence of clear and convincing evidence to the contrary provided the claim is consistent with circumstances, the veterans testimony alone will establish occurrence of military sexual trauma." The VA currently has a procedure when they come in and ask about military sexual trauma
    • Resubmitting a bill that deals with military violence and sexual trauma. Hope to see that before next month
  • Veteran’s Voice - All of you are involved with veterans’ programs; each organization gives feedback that you are having trouble recruiting new veterans. This is an opportunity to connect with those younger veterans who do not get involved. Great networking opportunity to help build your organizations.
  • Question - Have you seen anything coming regarding some people in Washington trying to initiate a new military award depreciating the Purple Heart or Bronze Star for people running the drones? Someone is trying to get a bill through for the new award.
    • Not that I know of. Some operators of drones are being awarded recognition - with high tech warfare how do you recognize those members? Let us know if you have ideas
      • The people have a concern from what I have read: most veterans who have a beef have an issue because the people stateside who are operating drones are receiving higher recognition than those who are fighting in combat. It’s not so much the award but putting more weight on an award for someone who is stateside.
      • Some people flying the drones are working long shifts and have small children. Some of these individuals feel in their mind they are in a war zone then go to the soccer field with their kids. So, this is a mental health challenge.

Senator Al Franken - Nicole Lee

  • Nate Arch is no longer with our office - he has moved on to bigger and better things
  • Brought a handout if needed
  • Contact information on the hand out would love to connect on an individual basis
    • Will email
  • Recent visits:
    • Last month was National Salute to Veteran Patients and Senator visited Minneapolis VA
    • Participated in the visit at the medical center in Minneapolis
    • Meeting with statewide veterans organizations in the DC office - flyer tells how to connect regarding upcoming events in MN or DC
  • Will be reintroducing the rural veterans’ health care improvement act - asking the VA to come up with a 5 year strategic plan on how to provide better care to veterans in rural communities. Information about these programs are on the website
  • On back of the handout is an invitation for children of military families to participate in a poetry contest. We worked with the National Guard last year on this event. The theme is my experience as a military child. April is both military children month and poetry month.

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

1st District Representative - Tim Walz - Shawn Schoesser

  • HR833 Drone award. It was not congress who created the award it was DOD. The bill questions the placement of the award not how we honor those men and women flying drones
  • Reintroduced service member health review act dealing with 31000 released off active duty and their DD214 characterizes their discharge as personality disorder or adjustment disorder. We feel this is a dis-service. GAO study indicates that this is a dis-service. Those individuals, many suffered from PTSD and Traumatic brain injuries. Since they are classified as personality disorder they cannot get VA attention because it is a pre-existing condition. So we are trying to recognize that. Bill is HR975
  • Honoring American Guard or Reserve Retirees Act. Reintroduction. Retirees who spent 20 years in Guard or Reserves but not 180 active days in service are not allowed honorable term of veteran. We want to correct that. This bill is cost neutral because no benefits are allowed with it, it is just recognition as a veteran – We need help identifying these people since they are not labeled veterans they are hard to find.
  • Chairman of veterans job Caucus which has 3 goals
    • Promote veterans hiring
    • Engage on veterans employment issues on government agencies, veterans service organizations, and private companies
    • Hold monthly meetings to keep veterans employment initiatives in the fore front
  • If familiar with companies or support a company who would support this caucus, please let us know. Still developing relationship but is we can find interested companies it would be great

2nd District Representative - John Kline - Chaz Johnson

  • Sequestration: concerned with amount of money taken out of DOD.
  • Congressman being honored by the National Association of Veterans Upward Bound. Regards legislation brought forward in the 110 congress which Klien introduced called veterans upward bound improvement act allows reservists and guardsmen who have served on active duty since 9/11 and participated in federal programs to enhance their academic skills. Last week congressman met with members in Washington from Legion and VFW - I had opportunity since last meeting to have breakfast with the National Commander of the American Legion when he was touring the state.
  • 12 cities away looking for yellow ribbon - went to Northfield, MN and sat with some veterans asking them to go to city hall to get this passed. Hope this bears fruit in the near future
  • Sequestration is hitting DOD - Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines are reduced.

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

  • House Republicans did vote twice last year to give the DOD the opportunity to decide where to make cuts. Congressman will continue to support efforts that allow DOD to identify where cuts and spending will occur.
  • HR303 is the bill about the distinguished warfare medal created by the DOD to acknowledge the service of cyber warfare or pilot drones. Concern is that award is taking precedence over battle awards. The bill will make it clear that awards such as Purple Heart will rank above that award.
  • Also co-sponsor of HR258 Stolen Valor Act which would make it a crime to profit off of fraudulent claims of service or military awards – passed House last year and has been re-introduced.
  • Last week in DC congressman met with veterans and American Legion
  • Friday April 19th 4th Annual Job Fair. Reached out to veteran and military groups in Minnesota. At Normandale Community College from 12-4. Note that 12-1 it is open only to veterans. Have website up for information through congressional website

4th District Representative - Betty McCollum - Connie Haddeland

  • Handing out Congresswoman’s formal statement from the House Defense appropriations when the Joint Chiefs of Staff were before them last week. Part of the statement covered the impact sequestration will have on military families
  • Co-sponsor of HR755 - senate bill 309 gold medal for civil air patrol WWII volunteers
  • Co-sponsor of women veterans health care improvement act
    • Between 2003 and 2011 nearly 2000 men and women suffered life changing battle injuries while in Iraq or Afghanistan. A number are the kind of injuries that impact the ability to start or continue a family. Tri Care provides fertility treatment for service members but the VA offers fertility treatments. Bill addresses enhancing treatment at VA, fertility treatment for spouses, some adoption assistance and also mandates child care assistance to veterans seeking re-adjustment counseling.
  • Met with the DAV and VFW
  • Will be having an academy information meeting on April 16th - open to everyone (families from around MN). We are doing office hours in new district in Woodbury and Stillwater on a normal basis.

 5th District Representative - Keith Ellison - Mike Siebenaler

  • Star Base program at NG 133rd airlift wing - teach students in grade 4-6 about math science and technology. Trying to move program from office of defense to office of education. Trying to block this because the MN NG does great job with the program. Congressman made a call to OMB and sent them a letter to ask for a personal meeting to discuss this. Signed on delegation letter hoping to go out this week.
  • Delegation letter going around trying and preserving the 934 airlift wing. May lose its full mission and we are trying to keep at least a partial mission
  • S294 - Ellison is original co-sponsor of the House version of that bill.
  • Co-sponsored HR164: providing more space for veterans on military aircraft. Specifically for service related disabled

6th District Representation - Michele Bachmann - Nicole Severson

  • Consolidated into an Anoka office. We are continuing to do mobile office hours in the St. Cloud area.
  • Big changes in office. Sgt Fry has been promoted and moved to Dc and is the congresswoman’s military and veterans legislative aid.
  • HR32 military surviving spouse equity act - relieves widow or widower of armed forces tax
  • Co-sponsored HR755
  • Signed on to 833
  • In place of Sgt Fry we hired Brian Gordon who used to work for Congressman Kravak - he is now our military and veterans case worker.
  • I will not be at next month’s meeting; Jessica will be in my place. I am getting married at the end of the month and will be on my honeymoon

8th District Representative - Rick Nolan - Brynn Sias - Not present

  • Announcements -
  • Honoring Bob Erickson testimonial dinner on April 6th at the Pork Belly Lobster’s Club social from 3-5 program at 5 and dinner at 6.

5. Meeting in Recess for 10 minutes

  • Treasurer had knee replacement surgery and the only check received since the last statement was from AMVETS so what we handed out last meeting is current.
  • Deposited 4 checks
    • VFW, Purple Heart, TRIA, Veterans Small Business Foundation
  • Move to give Ralph 150.00 for travel expenses - give right now and re-evaluate through the year
    • Moved, seconded,
    • Up that to 250.00
    • Moved, seconded, passed
  • Want the UVLC to approve what we are doing with the MN Sports Authority
    • Make the motion that the UVLC approve the participation
      • Seconded
      • Approved
    • Representative Bob Detmer is involved with this as well as Senator Daly. We attended meetings at First Bank building last week with people from Ramsey County, Military Affairs.
    • We need people there to influence the process, if you cannot make it find someone who can.
  • Motion to adjourn