Meeting Minutes for September 2013

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Announcements - Ralph Donais, Chairman


  • Always looking for volunteers for suicide assistance for veterans
  • Introduction of newest 133rs Airlift Wing commander Col. Jim Johnson
  • Dave Wentzl new addition to Congressman Wahls office
  • MN DVA and Women’s veterans of MN having Fall Luncheon on October 12 - emailing details
  • September 22 POW MIA vigil ceremony at U of M TCF Football stadium at 1400

1. State Agencies and MN Veteran Assistance Organizations

MN Military Affairs - COL Sandy Best

  • Congressional staff breakfast this morning
  • This afternoon there is a heritage counsel briefing at capitol
  • September 7th 347th regional support group change of command
    • Outgoing is Col. Hanson and incoming is Col. Klieborn (first female to hold position)
    • 1100 at Camp Ripley
  • September 15th Camp Ripley Community Appreciation Day
    • Theme is heroes of the home front
    • Info sent to Ralph
  • MN just announced a spike in suicide
  • Military is required through Dept. of Defense to hold stand downs by the end of September
    • In the works
  • Video documentary called “The Invisible War” on sexual assault in the military
  • September 19th MN Womans Lawyers having a series
  • September 20th MN Coalition against sexual assault hosting presentation by attorney Susan Burke called Sexual Assault in the Military, The Invisible War
  • Sept 20 - 23 in Hawaii and I will be attending and meeting with senior leaders on issues
  • October 5th 34th Infantry Division change of command to incoming Brig. General Neil Loydalt
  • October 17th General Grass honored by Metropolitan State

MN Assistance Council for Veterans (MACV) - Kathy Vitalis

  • 878 veterans attended Metro Stand down - 226 went through VA health screening
  • Duluth stand down for 270 veterans
  • Virginia, 114 veterans
  • Stand downs coming up
    • Bemidji September 25
    • Grand Rapids September 26
    • Marshall October 8
    • International Falls October 9
    • Mankato November 12
  • Legal Clinics coming up
    • Minneapolis September 10
    • St. Cloud September 24
    • Fargo/Moorhead October 15
  • Metro stand down costs about $20,000 and every dime is raised. Half of it came from grant
  • Annual fundraising dinner is September 20 at Hotel Sofitel tickets on website

Annette Kyper

  • Approved action plan for Bloomington on September 21st to celebrate becoming Yellow Ribbon
  • Approved city of Anoka
  • Approved Southwest Twin Cities (Edina, St. Louis Park, Hopkins) October 12 1700 at Outside Downtown Park in Hopkins
  • Approved Normandale Community College as Yellow Ribbon Company
  • Approved Wells Fargo and Metro State  as Yellow Ribbon company 1700 October 17th at Metro State
  • Last week proclaimed Allians Life of North America
    • Formed an employee resource network to recruit veterans
    • Looking at a program where they look at current veteran employees and how they can mentor them and give them promotion opportunities
  • Next week proclaiming Wells Fargo
  • Nine month to a 1 year progress where they go into every level of business and make preferences for veterans. Work not only with veterans but veteran families in providing support
  • Department of Natural Resources is holding next Yellow Ribbon Company Seminar in December
    • Bring yellow ribbon companies together and talk about best practices
  • Contacted by University of Minnesota about getting involved.
  • Last 6 needed to add to Yellow Ribbon: Northfield, Hutchinson, Cloquet, Redwood Falls, Pipestone, and Minneapolis. All are working on action plans - goal is end of December
  • Veteran crisis training throughout MN. Goal is to have every yellow ribbon network to have a police officer attend training.

Military Action Group (MAG) - Jerry

  • Letter from Chairman of MN Sports Facility stating that UVLC be the official organization to provide certification of veteran’s business enterprises satisfying requirements for Vikings stadium construction. UVLC representation is accepted.
  • Need to start with VA small business verification program in order to qualify
  • Once done we are contacted
  • Instead of taking 18 to 24 months, as long as email says you are in process of applying, we can get you moving
  • Next meeting is September 19th with Alex Tiddle -need enough companies to make this happen
  • Next MAG meeting not set-up yet
  • Phone number to contact for veteran owned business is 651-338-2717
  • Next honor flight is October 5th 92 WWII veterans and 72 guardians on flight
  • Need to come up with ideas and issues to attack at the state level. Please provide input
  • Need to address that money being raised for veterans is actually going to the veterans

2. Federal Agencies

VA Regional Office - Director Antione Waller

  • Continue to work back log claims - taking on more work from neighboring states (9000 claims in earlier part of June)
  • Training in federal building on September 16. Mission to share more claims processing to all stakeholders
  • Ground floor should be opening around September 16
  • Have space available for meeting

VISN 23 - Judith Johnson - Mekota

  • Disaster planning
  • Beginning budget presentation first week of October
    • Looking at FY 13 and did we meet objectives
    • More about research doing with women’s health
    • Talking about homelessness
      • Limit and prevention
  • Conducting mental health summits
    • Objective is to bring community partners into VA
    • Looking for gaps in services so we can improve services we offer
    • We have to report feedback to congress
  • Suicide prevention month
  • September 24th women’s health and wellness in St. Cloud
  • Last page of handout is FAQ on affordable care act

VAHCS Mpls - Ralph Husner

  • Garage - Crane removed two weeks ago but contractor is not committing to finishing date
  • CVOC- opened three in July (Twinports, Superior, Hibbing and outreach clinic in Ely)
  • Working on SW Metro and southern border
    • Locations talked about in the media are not accurate

VAHCS St Cloud VA Medical Center - Trish Aljets

  • Mental health summit was on August 19th - 99 community partners joined the summit
  • About to open our new MRI facility (September 23)
  • Veterans resource center progressing in downtown St. Cloud
    • Still site searching
  • Continue hiring staff
    • Currently have 1639 employees
    • Still looking for primary care physicians
  • September is Suicide Prevention month and we have aggressive outreach planned
    • September 12 Gatekeeper training
    • September 14 2k walk/run
    • September 20 one woman play
  • Flu clinics underway
    • Joined Whooping cough campaign
  • September 4th Women’s Health and Wellness event

Ft Snelling Cemetery - Brad Butler Assistant Director

Vets Employment & Training Service [VETS] - David Seay

  • Stand downs
    • First come first serve noncompetitive grant reward
    • e will accept applications but we cannot guarantee funding
  • August 30 - VA reported a total of 136,797 veterans applied for VWRAP and 119,199 received approval and certificates
    • Over 52% have been trained or entered training
    • So far in FY 13 there have been just over 91,000 have been enrolled in training
    • Almost 11,000 applications were disapproved. About 62% was because still eligible under other programs
  • Outreach called which protects military members with employment
    • Visiting employers and do presentation to anyone interested in learning about program
    • Left cards if anyone in interested in the program.

Jim Johnson new commander at 133 Airlift Wing

  • Budget is currently an issue with us: both short term and long term
  • Continuing deployments  - ours are 60-100 day deployments
  • No news on taking over air force reserve

3. Federal Congressional Representatives and Senators

Congressman Ellison

  • Working on sequester with National Guard
  • Academy has very few express interest in district, have them call office.

Congressman Tim Wahls office

  • Participated in Farm Fest
  • Key note speaker for enlisted association of the National Guard
  • Key note speaker to Air Force Sergeants Association
  • Working with Franken on veterans disability backlog
  • Introduced military reserves job act
    • Helps with job preferences
    • Veterans get preference in applying for government jobs
    • Also allows preference for reservists
  • Hosting Congress on your Corner on Friday
  • May be opportunity to still sign on to TriCare letter for secretary Hagel
  • Service Academy information night on September 16th at Diamondhead Education Center in Burnsville

Senator Amy Klobuchar - Greg Swanholm

Senator Al Franken - Nicole Ly

  • Expressed concerns about other state claims
  • Hearing concerns that MN claims are being put on hold to do claims for other states
  • Franken visited Fergus Falls veterans home
  • Franken and Wahls had meeting with student veterans and leaders from organizations. Primary conversation around back log
  • Service Academy nominations are wrapping up

4th District Representative - Betty McCollum - Connie Haddeland

  • Finished breakfast with MN National Guard briefing
    • Sexual assault in military
    • Suicides
    • Integration of woman soldier into combat units
  • Congresswoman going to Norfolk Naval Station on Saturday for commissioning of USS Minnesota
  • Academy information night Monday September 23 in Bloomington

6th District Representation - Michele Bachmann - Jessica Faust

  • Academy on 17th and 23rd in Ramsey and St. Cloud

Dwayne Browny CVSO

  • Next week is conference
    • Relinquishing presidency at that time
  • FDC claims are working
  • Next week training from VA central office
    • CVSO will be test site to the nation through SCP programs to expedite claims

4. Announcements -

  • We are also on Twitter

5. Meeting in Recess for 10 minutes

6. Business Meeting

  • Treasurers report
    • Membership dues not complete
    • $4883.29 August 1
      • 158.95 expenses
      • September 1st balance is $4724.34
  • Still need more legislative issues you want to see addressed
  • Bipartisan support on MAG
  • Push forward on veterans omnibus bill
  • Discussed idea of upgrading electronics but we feel by the time we upgrade it will be outdated right away

Adjournment/ Next Meeting 9:30 AM -Wednesday 2 October, 2013