Meeting Minutes for November 2013

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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

  • Call to order- 09:30
  • Invocation - Prayer
  • Pledge of Allegiance - Everyone recites pledge
  • Greetings: Recognition of visitors and guests -
  • Announcements - Ralph Donais, Chairman -Jerry Kyser, Vice Chairman

  • A few new members joining tonight, welcome
  • November 11th at Earl Brown Terrace
    • Salute to Veterans
    • 763-560-6929
    • RSVP by end of day
  • Nickelodeon is donating 150 free passes to theme park for Veterans Day
    • November 10th at Mall of America
  • Thank You for everyone who supported the Honor Flight Return
    • Over 350 people at Hubert Humphrey to greet returning Vets
    • Took 89 Veterans
    • Accessibility trouble due to shutdown, 1 man was injured
    • Eventually rectified situation, went in no matter what to see memorials
    • Korean, Vietnam memorials were skipped due to lack of accessible facilities
    • April 26th is next Honor Flight
    • October 11th is the next Flight after April

State Agencies and MN Veteran Assistance Organizations

Legislative Director for Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs: Mike McElhiney

  • Busy office
  • Achieved 18.9 million share of state funding to complete Minneapolis Phase 3
  • Worked to identify to how to count beds to maximize treatment available
  • Trend is there is lack of long term health care resources for Veterans
  • Currently still working on subcommittee working on issue of housing options and homeless Veterans
    • More hearings to happen
    • Recommendations will be produced after
  • Bonding Portion of Biennium
    • Assets Preservation request
    • 10 million for 50 buildings for typical updating and repairs
    • Hope to spend bonding dollars evenly with repairs
  • Initiatives put forward up to Governor’s Office
    • Decisions won’t be made until late January
    • Updates to follow
  • Re-Grand opening of Whipple building
  • Philmore County Cemetery Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
    • Friday night, Governor is keynote speaker
    • Congressmen Wahl
    • 10.1 million dollar grant to build new cemetery
    • Just off of Highway 52
  • State Ceremony on Monday for Veterans Day
    • Several events listed on website
  • Colonel Best and Co. are at a Conference
    • Will send email with important dates
    • Today is conference
    • Military Appreciation Night at Vikings Game
    • 11th Nov. is Breakfast at Grove Heights
    • 11th Nov. Yellow Ribbon Proclamation at City of Becker High School
    • 14th Nov. is Normadale College Yellow Ribbon
    • 16th Nov. City of Eden Prairie 16th Yellow Ribbon Salute to Veterans Luncheon
    • 19th Nov. Military Action Group at Capital
    • 26th Nov. Nordic American Thanksgiving Breakfast
    • 1st Dec. yellow Ribbon: Largest YRC certified
    • 7th Dec. #4th Infantry Division Change of Command
    • 14th Dec. Yellow Ribbon Proclamation at Anoka
    • 17th Jan. Company Proclamation for MOA
  • Summary of Women Veterans Luncheon
    • October 12th-Luncheon
    • 75 women Veterans
    • 12 of which were WWII Veterans
    • Great event

MN Assistance Council for Veterans (MACV)- Kathy Vitalis

  • Golf Tournament hopefully in June
  • Next Tuesday : Stand down at Mankato Verizon Wireless Center ( last for the year)
  • Two Legal Clinics coming up soon ( last for the year)
    • November 14th at Minneapolis VA Health Care system on 2nd floor
    • November 26th in St. Cloud
    • Any Veteran welcome to consult with attorneys
  • Hoping to get calendar together to release early next year for events
  • Annual Holiday Open House at Building 47
    • Dec. 6th, 12-4 pm.
    • Anyone is welcome
  • Housing in Duluth, Mankato- Structured Independent Living homes
    • If you want to see, contact to make appointment
    • Announcement of $1000 contribution towards homeless Vets from Greek Orthodox Church
    • Above and Beyond Award to Sue in Mankato Office

VAHCS Mpls- Director Patrick J. Kelley

  • Document from Veterans Integrative Services Network
    • Outreach document
    • Lists medical facilities, service locations, services available
    • Discusses Affordable Care Act as well
  • Parking Ramp is ahead of schedule
  • New CBOCs opening( Community Based Outpatient Clinics)
    • Southern Minnesota border
    • South West Metro Area of Twin Cities
    • Contracts awarded within next month, opened in Spring
    • Will be 12th and 13th CBOCs
    • Now have 9 CBOCs in MN, and 4 in WI
  • Expanding space in Chippewa Valley CBOC, also adding services
  • Flag Atrium at Medical Center is still closed up due to Construction
    • Finished around March
    • Maximizing space available to centralize certain services
  • Research Proposal recently approved
    • 1 of 8 sites approved in study
    • Several different areas of study in over 500 active research protocols
    • Lung cancer screening project
    • Identify heavy smokers
    • Low-dose radiation treatments
    • Hope to catch cancers early and treat them
  • Uof M nursing students partnership
    • 20 nursing students do their clinical work for Junior and Senior year
  • New and improved ID cards coming
  • Make a point to make better communication at Medical Center
  • Hiring more doctors for Ramsey Clinic to deal with large number of Veterans
  • Minneapolis VA was awarded as a Top Performing Hospital

Military Action Group

  • Start process where Veteran business can get certified by MN
    • Rep. Detmer and others in MAG working on legislation
    • Encourage more Veteran owned business to begin process
    • Contact us afterwards to bid on construction projects
  • Vikings Stadium will go down earlier than expected due to no playoffs
  • Working to get tax reduction for disabled Veterans for homes
  • Businesses can ask Disabled Veterans to work for them without it being labeled as discrimination

Rep. Ernie Leidiger

  • Veterans as a constituency are decreasing
  • Concerned that we won’t have lobbying power to place appropriate resources for Veterans
    • Will have to ‘yell louder’ to gain resources
  • Purging in Active Duty Military story
    • Will need to be stronger as a force

Chaplain Glen Bloomstrom- Living Works Education

  • Large contracts with Department of Defense for Suicide Awareness and Prevention Training
    • How to recognize people at risk
    • Group of 30-40 retired chaplains
    • Training chaplains to do SAPT with your Veteran training
    • Non-proselytizing, non-denominational services
    • Don’t want our warriors leaving a legacy of suicide
    • 14thNov. between 10-2pm at Fort Snelling Chapel
    • Short program that teaches people how to ask about suicide
    • Want to partner with Veterans for training

Federal Agencies

VA Regional Office- Antoine Waller

  • Had to furlough about 160 employees but all back now
  • Never stopped processing claims
  • As of June, took over 8,000 claims, down to hundreds
  • Reconstruction feedback has been that space is nice
  • Want to improve services to get exams processed quickly
    • Telehealth and CBOCs would  help
  • Electronic and paperless environment is at 80%
  • Fully developed claims are priority; aim to have completed within 90 days

VISN 23- Steve Julius, Chief Medical Officer

  • On Veterans Day, HBO is airing documentary on VA Crisis Line
  • Previews indicate that it’s very powerful, affirms efforts of medical staff at VA Crisis Line
  • Chippewa Falls CBOC expansion
  • Iowa City VA started “Dine on Demand” program
    • Room service  from their room so Veterans can select dining choice
  • VISN 8 in Florida
    • Pilot  w/  pharmacies to have Veterans have flu shot at pharmacies but have VA pay for it
    • If it works for flu shots, perhaps utilizing same system to dispense prescription medication as well
  • Effective February 2014, Dr. Robert Petzel is retiring, will stay until secured replacement
    • Search committee is in place
  • Deputy Undersecretary for Health and Operations Management Bill Shoneheart
    • Current Network Director Jan Murphy will be Acting Deputy Undersecretary in Washington

St. Cloud VA HCS- Sharon Meschke

  • Struggling with areas of access
  • Several new providers hired so access should improve
  • MRI is fully operational
  • Hutchinson area home base primary care is taking off after hired employee
  • New rehab center and new kitchen construction to begin soon
  • Design meetings with architect for community living center cottages, new infusion center, and addition to mental health building
  • Wind turbine: Contractor under pressure to  make it become functional
  • Public Affairs:
    • Annual Veterans Day Parade on Sunday, November 10th at 1pm at Apollo HS
    • Nov 11th: Veterans Day Observance Ceremony
    • Friday, Nov. 8th: Caregiver Support Fair
  • Joint Commission Survey last week
    • 3 of 4 areas had no findings
    • Barb Umpke has transitioned to White City DOM as Associate Director

Fort Snelling Cemetery- Brad Butler

  • Road construction is done
  • Post Road gate is open from 8:30-3:30
  • Shelter 4 deconstructed, still completing, hopefully done by end of year
  • Memorial wall should be finished within the month
  • Did 479 internments in October
  • 217 Rifle Squad services
  • Will be retiring at end of this month

Tom Grahek, Director of Debt Management Center

  • Mission: Balance veterans and beneficiaries’ situations with debt management
  • National organization: service to entire country
  • Help with audits, repayment plans, etc.
  • Also had to furlough, at 100% now
  • Access is a priority: how employees can get knowledge and services
  • Contact: Adding virtual hold and scheduled call back to enhance customer service
  • Call center number: 1-800 -827- 0648

Federal Congressional Representatives and Senators

Tim Cossalter from Senator Klobuchar’s Office

  • Opposition on TriCore prime, still pressing on
  • NDA:
  • Military Sexual Assault Prevention Act
  • DoD Inspector General Investigations of Sexual Assault Retaliation
  • Veterans to Paramedics Transition Acts
  • TriCore Prime Act
  • Veterans Access to Care Act
  • Been focusing on sexual assault
  • Lt. General has requested a meeting with Senator

Chaz Johnson from 2nd District Representative’s Office

  • Supported 3 bills: Veteran Centric
  • HR2189 :Task force to address backlog with disability claims
  • HR1405: Requires VA to put appeals form in response
  • HR2481: Economic Opportunity Administration- helps transition to civilian life
  • Closed Service Academy applications- great to meet new kids
  • Home Depot provides grants and does Community Service- refurbished the South St. Paul VFW(new to district)
  • Last fish fry of the year-go check out the new paint and get some fish
  • Question about bill regarding HR347- freedom of speech

Connie Haddeland from the 4th District Representative’s Office

  • Excited about Service Academy applications
  • Public Law 113-21: relates to Vietnam Memorial Center-appropriate way to acknowledge donors
  • Recent bill HR3396: Veterans’ Health Care Stamp Act-money from stamps would fund supporting service member’s families while recovering from combat injuries
  • Note passing of CW Bill Young
  • Congresswoman will be out in Grove Heights for Veterans Day

Nicole Pelzer- 6th District Representative’s Office

  • Jason from DC Office has several pieces of legislation he’s looking over
  • As Veterans, let office know if you are supporting any legislation
  • Up to 70 co-sponsors to establish a select committee on POW affairs
  • Congresswoman visited a MN soldier at Walter Reed
  • Only 10 Service Academy applications-excited to have them

Rick Olseen-8th District Representative’s Office

  • Still accepting applications for Service Academy
  • Congressmen visited clinics
  • Attended dedication for Homeless Veterans apartment building
  • Retreat at Camp Ripley
  • Working with Polaris for 4-wheeler distribution
  • Former State Senator
  • Announcements

We need your help at Capital, February 27th

  • Meeting in Recess for 5 Minutes

Adjournments/Next Meeting 9:30 AM - Wednesday 6 November, 2013
Treasury Report:

  • Balance as of September 1st: $4552.34
    • No income in October, Spent $120 for expenses
    • $4,402.59 is ending balance for as of November 1st
    • Motion to accept: motion accepted
  • Old Business:
    • Brochure ideas needed before December meeting
    • Jim Cleary is a retiree: has 2 people replacing him
    • UVLC award
    • Will push for Veterans to push for bonding with bill

New Business:

  • No more new business, meeting adjourned , next meeting is December 4th