Meeting Minutes for April 2014

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Meeting Minutes - April 2014

  • Call to order - 09:30, Invocation - Pledge of Allegiance -
  • Greetings: Recognition of visitors and guests - MN Senator John Hoffman
  • Announcements - Ralph Donais, Chairman - Jerry Kyser, Vice Chairman.

      Alex Tittle, Equity Director for Minnesota Sports Facility Authority

  • Previously Civil Rights Director for MN Transportation Department
  • Brief update on how MN Multi-purpose Stadium project
    • Brought detailed report
    • Compliance program: MA Mortenson Thor is Construction Manager at Risk
    • HKS Design Sports is Design Engineer and Architect for project
      • 30 different targeted businesses
    • Equity plan overall identified Veteran inclusion piece
    • Department of Human Rights is currently monitoring work force and prevailing wage on this project
    • Mandate for every contractor on job to identify if  their employees are Veterans or not
    • One contractor has been been committed so far at 2.4 million dollars
    • Normally, try to be transparent, accountable,  and efficient as possible with sharing information
    • Every other month, there are Stadium Equity Oversight Committee Meetings
      • Encourage all of you to attend
      • Who is employing out Veterans on the project?
  • In effort to outreach and train qualified workers, we have employed an EAF(Employment Assistance Firm)
    • 15 different organizations , helps with outreach and training personnel for this project
    • Total workforce hours on project so far: 55,000 and 19,000 minority hours, 5,000 female hours, 1,000 Veteran hours, ( increased since February)
    • Not all Veteran workers are self-identifying as Veterans, so encourage those workers to identify themselves on rosters
    • Targeted Business Program -Minority, Women, and Veteran owned businesses
      • Project is based on 5 different packages ( most has already been awarded)
      • 1st: Application is for Iron Workers
      • 2nd: Glass Roofing System -not completely awarded
      • 3rd: Earth work + demolition
      • 4th: Interior Finishes work
      • 5th : Electrical
    • Make sure you’re connected with CVE,, to connect with right company to get on board with work
    • Outside of stadium, downtown East project is also hiring Veterans ( 610 million project)
      • City of Minneapolis has adopted the Equity Plan that involves Veteran inclusion parameters
      • holds schedules for meetings

Chuck Jones from Military order of the Purple Heart

  • April 4th at noon, there is a mobile home called the “Spirit of 45”that will be at the VA home
    • Commemorates 75th anniversary of WWII
    • Will be in the Purple Heart National Magazine

John Hoffman, Represents Minnesota Senate District 36

  • Works at Ally People Solutions with Erica Hiller ( founded in 1965)
    • Work with helping Veterans with disabilities looking for jobs
    • Business model that does digital imaging so people can search archived images
    • In 5 years, have raised the income levels of people with disabilities 420%
    • In MN, you can still pay Veterans and people with disabilities a special minimum wage
    • Continually find employment and social opportunities
    • Urge to connect and becomes partners to help find employment for Veterans with disabilities

     1Federal Congressional Representatives and Senators
                              Senator Amy Klobuchar- Tim Cossalter

  • Veterans Administration has contract with Common bonds to build 58 housing units in Fort Snelling
    • Need project approved to obtain more funds due to historical significance
  • Center is concerned about Veteran bill- did not pass
    • Did not pass because there were 3 Amendments –( procedural process, send back to committee, and funding)
    • Did not pass by 56/48 votes
    • Will try to get it to pass
  • National Governors Association has granted MN the basic Economic Development and Employment Opportunity Deed
    • 3 professions in particular: LPNs, Paramedics, Law Enforcement
    • How to get Veterans into these professions, and give Veterans credit for their service
    • Faster route to career field
    • In the last 10 years, have gone from 6,900 Veterans in 2008 to 12,000 Veterans in 3013 in educational system

  Senator Al Franken- Nicole Ly  Not Present

 8th District Representative - Rick Nolan - Rick Olseen

  • On a mission to figure out if Social Security is paying deceased people
    • 2.5 people pass away every year in America
    • Only a few thousand are getting payment after passing
    • A lot of it is fraud
    • 90 million people in Master Death File
    • 750-1,000 people every month who are listed as dead but are still alive
    • Contacted D.C. Office- unsure of how much money they recover
  • Personal note: speaks about Veteran father passing away and how moving it was to have an Honor Guard at his funeral

   7th District Representative - Collin Peterson - Jodi Dey

  • Honored to be here and bring greetings from the Congressmen Peterson
  • HR236: WWI Centennial Coin Act-
    • 2018 will mark 100 years of signing the Armistice with Germany to end WWI
    • Funds will go to support nonprofit WW! Centennial Commission
      • Commission is privately funded to find ways to memorialize WWI and it’s Veterans
  • Welcome Home Vietnam Veteran Bill
    • Calls for recognition through a Welcome Home Vietnam Veteran’s Day
    • Celebrated on march 30th
    • Designed to give Vietnam Veteran’s the welcome home they never received
  • Requested Appropriations language requiring DOD to buy American flags made in America
  • HR4232: Veterans Higher Education Opportunity Act
    • Amend current law to reduce amount of time service members must have served in a hostile area to be eligible to receive for the federal Perkins Loan forgiveness program from 1 year to 6 months
    • Also if wounded before 6 months, will still be eligible
    • Assures benefit remain accessible
  • Military Academy Nominations: If you know students graduating HS this spring interested in joining Military Academy, go to Congressmen’s website for information
    • Application by October  or November 1st
    • Air Force, Naval, WestPoint, and Merchant Marines Military Academy

  1st District Representative - Tim Walz - Shawn Schoesser  Not Present

  2nd District Representative - John Kline - Chaz Johnson -

  • Notified of young man who received appointment to service academy ( at 10 of 25 applicants)

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

  4th District Representative - Betty McCollum - Connie Haddeland-

  • Service Academy Information Meeting
    • Tuesday, April 15th at  Mount View High School
    • 1900 Lake Valentine Road in Arden Hills
    • Tabling around 6 pm, forum at 7 pm
    • 4 out of 5 Academies requiring nominations will be represented
    • Open to the public
    • Will have another meeting in Woodbury or Stillwater for other side of population
  • Congresswoman McCollum serves on the House Appropriations Committee, along with two other sub-committees- Defense Appropriations  and Interior and Other Related Agencies
    • Deadlines this week, so hectic for staff
  • On Social Security: American individuals have responsibility to report death of loved ones

5th District Representative - Keith Ellison - Mike Siebenaler  Not Present

 6th District Representation - Michele Bachmann - Jessica Faust

  • Nicole Pelzer is at VA  Kitchen groundbreaking in St. Cloud
  • Had Military and Veterans Affairs Assistant in district to attend meetings
  • Handout with highlights
    • Handled 22 Veteran and military cases
    • Attended a Veterans Resource and Job fair hosted by St. Cloud University
      • Met with  new Veterans Resource Director for St. Cloud State
    • Had round table discussion with VISN Director hosted by St. Cloud Director Barry ball
    • Speak with some of CVSOs- most of country Veteran service officers in district
  • Will be hosting a reception a few weeks for academy nominees to celebrate acceptance
  • HR231: To establish a  select committee on POW and MIA Affairs
    • 107 co-sponsors

2. State Agencies and MN Veteran Assistance Organization

  MN Dept. of Veteran Affairs - Commissioner Larry Shellito   Not Present

MN Veterans 2010 Legislative Info - Mike McElhiney

  • Last week before 3rd deadline for Veterans bills
  • Google MDVA
  • Difficult session because it is short, and much going on
  • House Capital Investment bill coming together
  • Veteran owned Small Business Bill
  • Still to be determined which bills will survive
  • Encourage to watch bill tracker on website
  • Women’s License Plate  bill is supported
  • Concern about Veteran’s sub-committee’s recommendations
    • Up to 250,000 in 5 separate grants to be dispersed to different communities once needs are determined
    • Money will go to Department of Housing Finance Authority  to disperse
  • Rep. Howe carrying a bill about Veteran Choice-still TBD
  • Bills for Education and Holiday
  • Most bills have been pushed off to other committees that have funding
  • Veteran’s Voices  would designate October as the month to celebrate Veteran
  • There is a process which is supposed to be followed, but if it goes to rule, the process can change

MN Military Affairs Don Kerr, Executive Director

  • Bill to streamline licensing process to streamline career moves for spouses
    • Will probably need more refocusing to pass
  • Bonding Bill 2490: 970 million in bonding
    • Having difficulty matching funds
  • Amended Bonding Bill dropped, our allocation took a 60% cut
  • Seeing nonpartisan support in Senate, House seems more partisan
  • State funding needs to match federal funding
    • 2490 is the Bill number

MN Military Affairs - COL Sandy Best

  • Traveling for meetings such as suicide prevention training
  • Met with Federal delegation to discuss priorities
    • Personal note: Now a breast cancer survivor.
  • Number 1 priority remains the Army Force structure debate taking place between Army and National Guard
    • Intent to grab some aircraft some National Guard
    • Looking at cost to retain Active Duty and Reservists
    • National Guard wants to stay an active player
  • Today, MN National Guard will receive a Minnesota Health Occupation Students Of America 2014 Outstanding Professional Advocate  Award
    • For pairing with students passionate about pursuing medical careers
  • HR3930: Bill supporting Army Force Structure
    • 7 out of 8 Reps signed on
    • Over 150 nationally
    • Army Commission study  to evaluate what appropriate mix should be
  • Visit from District and Federal Staff at 133rd Air Lift Wing, and at Army  Aviation Support Unit in St. Cloud
  • Tuesday and Wednesday will be accompanying Duluth Military Affairs Committee to Washington
    • To support Duluth Airport’s runway extension
    • Will have to shut down airport unless they get an extension
  • Senator Franken’s Office: Military Poetry Contest
    • Grades K-12 supporting military
  • Thank Congressmen Paulson’s office for supporting out Welcome Home
  • Change of Command at 133rd Air Lift Wing for Civil Support Team on April 18th
  • On 4/15, Congressmen Peterson with Northland Community College will be hosting event for UAVs
    • Representing General Nash at that event

Yellow Ribbon - Annette Kyper

  • On 4/15, Purple Up Day: Honoring Military Children
    • In rotunda of State Capital
    • Governor Dayton will sign resolution to have April be Month of the Military Child
  • Yellow Ribbon Networks in MN are planning variety of activities to honor Military Children
  • Critical period for Yellow Ribbon Networks
    • 205 Cities, 23 counties, 35 Companies in MN
    • Recommend partnering your company with YRN
  • Proclamation for 36th YR Company in June: McGeoff Construction in St. Paul
  • Next YR Company Seminar on April 29th at Hennepin Technical College
    • Share best practices & build relationships
  • Saturday in Marshall: 4th of 5th Joining Community Forces Event
    • Next one will be in May in Duluth
  • Cargill, Super America, and United Health Care are all in process of becoming YR companies
  • will list all members of YRN
  • Note: The Military Child Education Coalition (
    • 501 C3 Non- profit organization- resources for schools to use for assisting military children

MN Assistance Council for Veterans (MACV) Kathy Vitalis

  • Stand down season:
    • Next is in Fergus Falls Armory on 4/24
    • Metro in August, September, October
  • Good review of new parking ramp
  • Will be adding a Legal Clinic in Anoka ( possibly in May)
  • National Mayoral Competition to end homelessness
    • Minneapolis and St. Paul are competing with Columbus and Des Moines to end Veteran homelessness
    • Focus on these cities, views as collaboration
  • Large amount of utility assistance
  • Large amount of new staff
    • Young Iraqi Veteran is one of new staff
    • Honored to hire Veterans
  • BMO Harris Bank offered assistance to MACV
    • Makeover of one of their living and dining rooms
  • Annual Dinner venue will probably change due to lack of partnership with new hotel owners
  • Members of National Coalition for Homeless Veterans
    • 501 3C  non-profit that has been around since 1990
    • Most Representation is heavy on West Coast, East Coast, and Florida
    • Trying to suggest for Midwest presence on Board
    • Kathy Vitalis has been nominated to sit on the Board

Vets Employment & Training Service [VETS] - David Seay

  • Waiting for Solicitation for Grant Applications to come out
    • 3 competitive grants that people can submit packages to with  the Department of Labor
    • HBRP ( same as with MACV)
    •  HVHFVVWF: Veteran and Homeless Veterans with Families Grant
    • IVTP: Incarcerated Veterans Training Program
    • Competitive Grant with Annual awards up to $300, 000
      • Optional year funding based on performance for possibly up to 3 years
    • Will leave business cards
    • Stand downs: Still accepting money applications for Stand downs
      • $7,000 for 1 day event
      • $10,000 for 2 day event
      • Must submitted 90 days prior to day it will take place
  • Contact him with questions about Veterans Preference

Military Action Group (MAG) - Jerry Kyser

  • Started out bad when House side said there was no extra money for Veterans activities
  • Trying to certify Veteran owned businesses in state of MN
  • Abysmal: nothing is happening
  • Maybe can receive money from feds for training
  • On Work cite Program: they are doing a better job in that avenue
  • Over a million dollars’ worth of memorials that are in the mix
  • Money for memorials, but not for programs to facilitate the hiring of Veterans
  • Ralph and I are going to try talking to Committee Chairman
  • Veterans applying for assistance programs are going to be increasing
  • Note: We did pass law 3 threes ago: Veteran owned business can say they want to hire Veterans onl

3. Federal Agencies

VA Regional Office - Peter Panos, PAO

  • Mr. Walder sends his greetings
  • Backlog: As of 3/29, have reduced backlog by 44%
    • Transformation into digital system has helped
    • 85% of all claims are digital now
    • Overall inventory of claims reduced by 30%
    • Embedded Rules Engine inside of claim
    • Regional office all have embedded health care personnel, we have doctors to immediately discuss questions with
  • Regional Office is getting ready to open
    • ICE is taking over first, top , and second floors
  • #1 Regional office in country right now
    • Felt it was acceptable to send personnel to Philadelphia to help them out since they were struggling
  • As Regional offices were struggling to process claims, we were brokering work and completing it for them and then sending it back
    • Now moving to a new process: all claims come into one center, then sent out from there
    • Claims will be sent to whoever has an opening to process them quicker
    • Focus on ALL veterans, nation wide

VISN 23 - VAHCS Mpls - Director Patrick J. Kelly

  • April Newsletter addresses several things, including removing annual income reporting requirement for Veterans
  • Budget: We can never do enough for Veterans in budget process
    • We in Minneapolis in Veterans health Administration are having another good budget year ( 4% increase)
  • 8 of MN counties also have Veterans’ Court
    • Normally misdemeanors can be seen in Veterans court (usually substance abuse related)
    • Recognize and acknowledge that Veterans struggle with some issues
  • Parking ramp opened 3/17/14: Has been great so far
    • Project 21 is the Veteran owned company that finished the parking ramp 6 months ahead of schedule
  • Community Based Outpatient Clinic opened in Albertlea
    • Will cut ribbon on 4/25
    • Shakopee CBOC will open in June
    • Valor is company we are working with
  • New clinical Services: Working with other hospitals for pain management
    • Began with first cohort of 8, will increase to 20 people
    • Establishing a comprehensive breast health center
      • Mammograms, plastic surgery, mental health services
      • Will open in July
    • Bariatric surgery program
  • Highlight researcher: Dr. Wilt has done work in area of prostate cancer screening
    • Research, test,  and publish clinical practice guidelines

  VAHCS St Cloud VA Medical Center - Sharon Meschke

  • Wind Turbine: No new status changes
  • Focusing on Outreach Events:
    • POW Recognition Event on 4/4
    • National Health Care Decision State on 4/16
    • Project Clothesline Event in Auditorium on 4/22-4/24
    • Stand down on 4/25
    • St. Cloud VA Women’s Wellness Expo: 5/17 ( 9 am to 3:30 pm)
    • Annual Recognition Event in May: More info to follow
  • Veterans to receive care remains constant
  • Budget looks fine for remainder of year
  • Construction updates
    • Geo thermal wells, pharmacy and dental departments completed in Spring
    • New patient psychiatric psychiatry building is 75% complete
    • Foundation laid for Rehab building
    • Community Living Center is nearly complete
    • Addition to Building 28 Psychiatry Building
    • Hopefully new designs will begin next fiscal year
  • New physicians on board

  Ft Snelling Cemetery - Robert Wolfe Assistant Director Not Present

4. Announcements -
We are also on Twitter

  • Honor Flight on 4/26
    • 79 WWII Veterans and  80 guardians
      • Lost 30 Veterans for this flight ( 12 passed away)
      • Support at Airport is appreciated
      • Oldest is 96, oldest is 89
      • Have taken 117, 000

5.      Meeting in Recess for 10 minutes   

Treasurer’s Report

  • As of 3/5, balance was: $4,282.19
  • Had deposits of: $1,100
  • Expenses of: $299.50
  • Ending balance as of 4/1 was:   $ 5,082.59
  • 29 paying organizations/individuals
    • 20 have paid so far ( 2 more paid today, so down to 7 unpaid)
  • Motion to approve

Old Business:

  • Working on Bills down at the Capital
  • Try to push through everything we worked on last year
  • Honor and Remember Flag: some people said we never endorsed that, but they did last year   
    • Majority Rules here     
  • Very emotional to see Gold Star Mothers  
    • Flags are already in 33 other states
  • Budget: trying to talk to media about lack of funding for Veterans   

    New Business:

  • Annually, we hold our meeting in St, Cloud in July
  • Idea to charter bus to bring people to St. Cloud
    • Feel bad when some legislatures drive 100-200 miles for only small audience
    • Are people interested in meeting at 8 am to ride on bus up to meeting?
    • Ralph will research cost of bus
  • Comment: VFW has dropped out of UVLC because misinformation
    • Majority rules at UVLC
    • Other Veteran organizations are furious at UVLC for supporting Honor and Remember Flags
    • Urge UVLC members who belong to other Veteran organizations to have their commanders come to meetings
  • What is the date for Veterans on the Hill? Need to know as soon as possible
  • Discussion of lack of media coverage/information about Veterans Day of the Hill
  • (Question about Retiree/tax bill) Bill in Senate to push through, dead in the House, might be revived
  • Most of what is included in omnibus bill never makes it
  • Motion to go home, approved

Adjournment/ Next Meeting 9:30 AM - Wednesday 7 May, 2014