Meeting Minutes for October 2013

Minutes Header

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

  • Call to order- 09:30,
  • Invocation - Chaplain (MAJ) Philip A. Winn, Jr - Leads prayer
  • Pledge of Allegiance - Everyone recites pledge
  • Greetings: Recognition of visitors and guests -
  • Announcements - Ralph Donais, Chairman - Jerry Kyser, Vice Chairman.
  • Honor Flight- Controversy on Monday with Mississippi delegation
    • 90 WWII Veterans, ages 87-95, did not end up seeing Memorial on trip
    • Determined to see WWII Memorial during upcoming trip with 86 Veterans
    • Began with 120 WWII heroes, down to 86 due to death and disease
    • Leaving at 06:30, Failure is not an option, will be there at 2:15
    • Arlington Nation Cemetery, run by the Army
    • No women on this trip, men ages from 87 to 98.
    • Livid over denial of access to their Memorial.
    • Ask for members to be there at 10:30 on Saturday to welcome Veterans home from trip.
    • Thank you for support of this trip.
  • Federal Congressional Representatives and Senators
    • 4th District Representative - Betty McCollum - Connie Haddeland -

Connie:

  • (Ramsey county and most of Washington county)
  • Addressing Shutdown: Not easy time for anyone in the nation
    • Members of Congress control staff individually, so staff can be furloughed, or deemed essential
    • In her office, all members of staff are working every day, which is not a reflection of other offices
  • Statement from Congresswoman: Opposes new Republican scheme of selecting random government agencies, programs and museums to fund while the rest of the government is shutdown is irresponsible. The majority is making desperate attempt at distraction so they won’t be held accountable. Congress needs to fund entire government and end shutdown.
  • Budget Bill sitting since March
  • As a caseworker, her hands are tied with some issues but has been working
  • Field Guide on Agency give offices and citizens ways to access what is and is not available
  • Spent Saturday with Admissions Officials of Naval Academy with Representatives from Representative Bachman and Nolan’s offices
  • Other Announcements: From Wahl’s office; The house is considering three bills under suspension of the rules to provide temporary fiscal year 2014 funding for select agencies and activities, House and Senate have been unable to reach agreement on the stop gap for fiscal year. The three bills would provide funding for national park service.
  • Wahl’s office Rep: The American people deserve better. Majority must start doing their work.
  • Jessica from Bachman’s office: I’m sorry I cannot attend meeting, but we are open but with reduced staff.
  • Anoka Office Number: 763-323-8922
  • Bachman remains committed to ensuring Military’s Basic pay allowance and housing
    • Bachman also believes Veterans should continue receiving services they’ve earned such as benefits
  • Nickelodeon is donating 1500 free passes to theme park, discounts also available for Veterans Day
    •  November 10th at Mall of America
  • State Agencies and MN Veteran Assistance Organizations

MN Dept. of Veteran Affairs - Barb O’Reilly

  • Veteran’s Day Breakfast on November 11th at Amber Grove Heights
    • Formal invitations will be sent soon
  • Women Veterans of MN, with MN Dept. Of Veteran Affairs, is hosting Women Veterans Fall Luncheon
    • 12 WWII Veterans
    • About 70 people attending
    • Fun day-Jaime Ball is Keynote Speaker
    • On October 12th , at the Fort Snelling Officer’s Club
    • Begins at 10:30, with lunch at noon

MN Military Affairs - COL Sandy Best

  • Major sidetracks due to Government Shutdown
  • MN National Guard Statement reads: Due to shutdown, 1,027 technicians out of  2,100 personnel furloughed until further notice
    • Required to follow policy, but remain ready to respond to emergencies
  • Congressional Leaders inquired about impact to MN National Guard
  • President Obama signed “Pay our Military” act,
    • Scrutiny occurring because that does not cover NG and Reserve Units
    • Congressmen Wahl's office helping to rewrite law to include Guard members
  • Events Subject to Shutdown :
  • 34th Infantry Division Change of Command
    • This Saturday
    • BRIG General Neil Loydalt assume command from Major General Elicerio
    • Inactive drill periods not covered because of lack of appropriations
    • Determination within 24-48 hours if they have to cancel drill periods
  • Open House at Facility Maintenance Facility at Arden Hills Training Site
    • Environmentally Friendly Facility
    • October 11th
  • Deployment Ceremony for 114th Transportation Company
    • Will NOT be shutdown
    • October 12th
    • In Chisholm
  • General Grass will be here
    • October 16th and 17th
    • Recognized as Alumni of the Year from Metropolitan State University

Question (Inaudible)
Answer: Yes, oftentimes it changes every few years. Not a specified period, huge exercise in 2015, led to decision to make those changes at this time.

Director of Military Outreach, Annette Kyper

  • Several Yellow Ribbon Action Plans approved for Yellow Ribbon Companies and Communities
    • Honoring Metro State on October 12th
    • Two Yellow Ribbon Communities meet with Mrs. Grass while General Grass is in Town Hall Meeting
    • Mrs. Grass has been wanting to learn about MN’s Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Program
  • Mall of America:
    • Approved Action Plan
    • Employee Outreach to honor Veteran employees
    • Had no idea who their Veteran employees were, but its required within Action Plan to identify all active employees, veteran employees, and their family members as well
  • Normandale Community College
    • Approved Action Plan
    • Both Norman dale and Mall of America are working on their Proclamation Events
  • Cities of Anoka, Eden Prairie, Norwood Young America approved
  • 181 Network of Yellow Ribbon Network Cities
  • Next City Proclamation: South West Twin Cities - combination of 4 cities joined together as one Yellow Ribbon Network ( Edina, St. Louis Park, Minnetonka and Hopkins)
    • October 12th at the Hopkins Downtown Park
  • Department of Natural Resources hosting next Yellow Ribbon Seminar
    • December 14th
    • Talk about best practices
  • Every organization in this room needs to connect with a local Yellow Ribbon Network
    • Only way to continue success
    • Networks want to know what needs are for Veterans and military families
    • Just audited cities, go online to see contact information for local Network
    • www.beyondtheyellowribbon.org
  • City of Minneapolis
    • Action Plan will be submitted soon
    • Will be largest Yellow Ribbon Network
  • Comment: St. Paul’s Yellow Ribbon Network is doing a great job
  • Announcements: Lt. Col. Barb O’Reilly is running for MN Chapter of Women in Defense
    • “It’s Official!”
    • Congratulate Mike on the honor of an award bestowed upon him by the Senator for the Civilian Marksmen Program
  • Comment: Idea of including prison in Yellow Ribbon Network

MN Assistance Council for Veterans (MACV) - Nathaniel Saltz

  • Updates and Announcements:
  • Two Legal Clinics coming up soon
    • Fargo-Moorhead area at Fargo VA on October 15th
    • November 14th at Minneapolis VA Hospital on 2nd floor
    • Any Veteran welcome to consult with attorneys
  • Three Stand downs coming up
    • Marshall on October 8th , at the YMCA
    • International Falls on October 9th at the Bob Walls Memorial Union Hall
    • Mankato on October 12th Verizon Center
  • Addressing Federal Shutdown
    • Currently fine and serving Veterans
  • Holiday Open House
    • December 6th at Building 47 at the VA
  • Questions: When is Legal Clinic at Hospital?
    • November 14th
    • Usually on second Tuesday of every odd month, but changed this time
    • When is Open House? He thinks Open House is 11-4, will check.

Military Action Group (MAG) - Jerry Kyser

  • Meeting with Representative Howe and Senator Anderson
    • Next meeting is October 22nd at 10 o’clock
    • To get ideas to put forth Legislation in the next year
    • Happy with the things that have happened
    • Will try to put through bills that give tax deductions for MN businesses that hire disabled Veterans and unemployed Veterans
    • Different organizations should lead to cohesive solicitation for Veterans rights
  • Introduce Kim Collins
    • New Acting Director of Civil Rights through Department of Transportation
    • Complete turnaround since getting involved with trying to change legislation in 2005, with Michael Johnson and Department of Veteran Affairs
  • UVLC is umbrella group for what is happening with Viking Stadium
    • Alex Tittle, Director of Equity Program for Viking Stadium
    • Meeting tomorrow at 5

Alex Tittle on Stadium

    • Responsible for the demo and erection of new Multi-purpose Stadium ( not officially named yet)
    • Opening 2016, Breaking ground next month ( Date TBA)
    • Awarded 4 parts of contact already
    • If you know small Veteran owned businesses in the areas of mechanical, electrical, plumbing or structural steel, let him know!
    • Need to connect businesses with sub-contractors
    • Mechanical: Harrison Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing: Gephardt Parsons, Structural Steel: Danny’s & Lejeune’s
    • Veteran Inclusion Program
    • Sub-Contractors- What does your Veteran workforce look like?
    • Stadium Equity Oversight Committee Meetings- October 22nd - All welcome to attend
    • Want Contractors to hire Veterans!
    • EAF( Employment Assistance Firm): responsible for hiring the Veterans
    • Announcing this at tomorrow’s meeting at 5 p.m. at Hallsy Hall at the Metro dome
    • Encourage attendance
    • Questions: Tomorrow is Board meeting,
    • 2nd Equity Oversight Meeting, 2 o’clock
  • Next MAG Meeting is at 10 on October 22nd
  • Last year, 25 bills were passes in MN Legislature

PetsLoyal2vets - Jeff LeBaron, Founder and Executive Director

  • Non-Profit with goal to connect MN Veterans diagnosed and treated for PTSD, and traumatic brain injuries and physical assault traumas with companion and therapy dogs, and psychiatric service dogs
    • Will branch out in future
    • Great need for service dogs
    • After he completed PTSD therapy, began research to find available resources
    • All PetsLoyal2Vets services FREE to Veterans
    • Will take in Veterans’ own dogs and train them
    • If Veterans lack financial resources, their office will take care of dog while Veterans are in hospital
    • Meeting the needs of Veterans
    • Meet ADI Standards in terms of training for dogs, to comply with rules
    • Psychiatric service dogs maintain all same public access rights as service dogs
    • Became legal last February
    • Four Board members are Veterans: Marine, Army, Navy, and Air Force
    • Two Board members have been diagnosed and treated for PTSD
    • Looking for funding though state and federal levels
    • 48,000 sq. ft. building- procuring funding right now
    • Pierce and St. Gray county: asked if they would service their Veterans, as well
    • Open State-wide to MN Veteran
    • Confidential online application to participate in program
    • He suffered from PTSD for 35 years before he got help
    • Website is www. PetsLoyal2Vets.org
    • Connection made by yellow Ribbon Network
    • Seven Veterans on Waiting List
  • Federal Agencies

VA Regional Office - Antoine Waller, Director

  • Greetings, Somber note due to government shutdown
  • Welcome Tom Grahek- Director of Debt Management Center
  • Government Shutdown Update: our office is open and fully functional with all staff
    • Still delivering benefits to Veterans
    • Re-examine status at week’s end to have an orderly shutdown
    • Mandatory spending requirements
    • All benefits are being paid to Veterans, and will continue to be paid throughout the month
    • Concerns about after the month, perhaps cutbacks
    • After funding ends on Friday, a more deliberate shutdown: 2/3rd of staffing will continue to report at Federal building
    • Building will be closed to public, workers still there
    • Pension Call Center might be down, National Call Center will still be active
  • Fiscal Year
    • Ending year on a high note
    • Over 30, 000 claims processed out of their office, including national processing
    • High - quality processing
    • Questions: Are you ever allowed to show your side of the story? Answer: Yes
    • Keeping focus on Veterans, Great collective support within region
  • Tom Grahek, Director of Debt Management Center
    • Mission: Balance veterans and beneficiaries’ situations with the facts of debt
    • National organization: service to entire country
    • 170 employees work with Veterans and beneficiaries
    • Call center with 55 Financial Specialists who work with Veterans to find solutions
    • Service post-secondary schools that service Veterans
    • 21-2200 calls a day
    • Veterans Health Admin, 1st party medical debt
    • Balance customer service and debt fulfillment
    • Enhancing customer service, provide date to help Veterans understand process
    • Contact: Adding virtual hold and scheduled call back to enhance customer service
    • Veterans are very concerned with shutdown
    • The number 1-800 -827-0648

VISN 23-Janet Murphy- Director VISN 23- Judith Johnson-Mekota

  • Greetings
    • Accomplishments overshadowed by shutdown, but they are still fully operational
    • Tell Veterans to keep appointments with them; they are still available to help
    • Great budget year: able to execute a lot of plans
    • Spent 83.3 million on projects to help care towards Veterans
    • Brochure handed out
  • VA Secretary is being commissioned to recommend candidates for Under Secretary
    • Effective February 2014, Dr. Robert Petzel is retiring, will remain until replacement is selected
    • Robert Petzel -strong impact on MN
    • PTSD coach online -17 tools to help cope
  • Mental health Summits
    • 9 Summits from August to September
    • Total of 522 participants
    • Discussed services of Veterans/families, access to mental health services
    • Community partner discussion, and community based recovery programs
    • Focus on Community partnering

VAHCS Mpls- Director Patrick J. Kelley

  • Veteran’s Field Guide, which is available on website
    • No change to resources due to shutdown; business as usual
  • Community based Outpatient Clinics ( largely how they service rural Veterans)
    • 4 in WI, 11 in MN
    • 2 more planned, locations TBA
    • New chronic pain center ‘hub’ in Minneapolis; will service Veterans in the outer ‘spokes’ sites
    • Open in the Spring, already funded
    • Women’s health; mammography center opening
    • Number of female Veterans continuing to increase, so services for women’s health increasing
    • Moving compensation and pension services over to Whippig building
    • Benefits and C&P will be in same building ( happen in a year)
  • Affordable Care
    • Message is if they are enrolled at VA Medical Center, they have health insurance
    • Under new law, if eligible, they want Veterans who need health insurance to seek it from them
  • New Letter
    • New Eye Contract with basic package of services, may be seen as a reduction in care
    • Offer frames, single vision glasses, bifocals and trifocals
    • Needs such as transition lenses or other specialty lenses will be supplied ONLY if necessary and medically indicated.
  • Questions? How is the parking ramp? Answer: Project is ahead of schedule- Will end up with 520 spaces
    • Note: Flag Atrium is closed up due to Construction ( First Impressions Project)
    • Comment: Why isn’t the VA promoting radiation registry services? Answer: Will research
    • Question: Are flu shots being given out? Answer: Yes, come on over
    • Question: Eye, Ear, and Orthopedic Clinics have long waiting time. Are more people going to be hired so Veterans can be seen quicker? Answer: Fee-basis care ( can go see other Doctors when there are more Veterans than there are physicians at the clinics)
    • Inaudible comment

VAHCS St. Cloud VA Medical Center - Cheryl Thieschafer

  • Introductions- New Administrative Staff in St. Cloud
    • Tyler Beanick - Administrative Officer in Director’s office
      • Captain in Army National Guard, Company Commander at Camp Ripley
  • Barb Umpke
    • Director of Business Officer, has accepted a new position in White City, Oregon as Associate Director ( she is beginning transition out of St. Cloud
  • Retirement of Assistant Chief of Engineering
  • Staffing Recruitment Challenges
    • Certain Specialties are more difficult to fill
    • Have had recent success with securing ENT and several primary care providers
  • Windmill Update: 3rd party inspector will be providing update on functionality and windmill deficiencies to be corrected
    • 2 1/2 years since erection, still not functional
    • Needs to be performing reliably before VA accepts it
  • Program Expansions
    • MRI, Laser surgery for cataracts,
    • Kitchen to assist with rehab projects
    • 6 or 7 deer at Ripley

Ft. Snelling Cemetery - Brad Butler, Assistant Director

  • 409 interments, total of 5,024 for the year
  • Will be open to about 2050 with current land
  • 209 Honor Squad rifle services
  • Memorial wall is finished and is working list
  • Shelter 4 deconstructed, still completing
  • Impact of Shutdown: Will be here, may have to limit services but will not shut down
  • Follow Detour signs ( all right turns  off of Highway 494) or come in back gate
  • October 25th is when project is scheduled to end

Representative Jeff Howe

  • Freedom Flight, MIA POW Balloons
    • Next year is 25th Anniversary of balloons, also 70 Anniversary of D-Day
    • Maybe combine these two events, also possible Honor Flight to Normandy

We are also on Twitter

  • Kudos to Department of Veteran Affairs at Hospital - have donated more wheelchairs
  • Meet on Saturday at 10:30 at Terminal 2
  • Meeting in Recess for 10 Minutes

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

  • Balance as of September 1st: $4724.34
    • No income in September, Spent $172 for expenses
    • $4,552.34 is ending balance for October
    • Motion to accept: motion accepted
  • Old Business:
    • New Bills want to work on
    • Local people listen to Legislature, but there is more to building centers
    • Tax credit issue will be resubmitted
    • Pay retirement for taxes on retirees will be resubmitted
    • Unsure of Honor and Remember flag status
    • Yellow Ribbon Participation Civil Immunity ( did not get passes)
    • Will pass on information about Homeless Veterans’ care committee
    • Note: Eligibility to Join officer’s club ( If you were active military, guard, reserve, or retired)
      • $72/year, Free lunch on your Birthday!
  • Questioning about Transferring Assets to qualify for Aid and attendance
    • Some inaudible comments
    • Maybe supporting tax exemption for military retirees
    • Tax exemption for widows and widowers- got it pushed to 5 years
      • Would like to see the exemption permanent until sell house, get married, etc.
  • Brochure ideas

New Business:

  • Need new volunteers to talk to people about upcoming election in December
    • Need new Chairman and Secretary
    • Volunteers are: Bob Smith, Dean Ashmond,
    • Idea to send out notice informing potential Chairman and Secretary candidates to call Bob and Dean
    • Can they be Re-elected? Yes
  • No more new business, meeting adjourned