Meeting Minutes for August 2014

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Meeting Minutes - August 6, 2014

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

MN Assistance Council for Veterans (MACV)- Kathy Vitalis

  • Second day of annual Stand down event today
    • Close to 800 people yesterday
    • Able to expand with Boy Scout and Charter school areas used
    • Next stand down is in Virginia on August 21st
    • Stand down in Duluth on August 22nd
    • Minneapolis VA stand down on September 9th
    • St. Cloud  stand down on September 23rd
    • Bemidji stand down on September 24th
    • Grand Rapids stand down on September 25th
    • Marshall and Mankato stand downs scheduled after that
  • Annual MACV Fundraising Dinner in late September
  • The support of MACV is doing wonderful things for the Veterans

Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie Skjerven Gildea was there, as well

    • She is going to handwrite thank yous to all of the legal volunteers

1. State Agencies and MN Veteran Assistance Organizations

MN Veterans 2010 Legislative Info -Mike McElhiney

  • Concentrating on implementation
  • Construction in South East MN
    • Still expecting letter detailing funding from Federal VA
  • Working with MN Housing Finance Authority to check on need that Veterans have
  • Working with Department of Administration to implement Veteran Owned Small Business Certification process
  • Our part is certifying Veteran status with a letter- just waiting to ensure that the flow will be manageable
  • Fairly far into the 2016-17 budget for the agency
  • Well into the initiative process as well to share with all of the stakeholders
    • Note that the more developed your initiative is, the more support we can provide
    • Fairly sure of the money they are getting

 MN Military Affairs - Don Kerr

  • Two new Yellow Ribbon companies were proclaimed in July
    • Cargill and Northern Tier Energy (Super America)
    • Thursday, August 7th: City of Redwood Falls  will be proclaimed
    • August 15: McCloud County will be proclaimed
    • Total Yellow Ribbon Networks: 211 cities, 24 counties, 38 companies
  • Successful engagement with CODEL in D.C last week
  • Still in initial planning process for legislature
  • Friday, August 22nd: Tee it up for Troops ( Veterans golf free at Bunker Hill)

Military Action Group (MAG) -  Jerry Kyser

  • Next meeting is August 19th at 10 a.m. at State Office Building
  • Representatives all in stages of reelection (Senate not in reelection)
  • Working with Department of Admin and Governor’s office to get the money to facilitate Veteran owned business certification process

2. Federal Agencies

VA Regional Office - Director, Antione Waller - Peter Panos PAO

  • New Secretary of Department of Veteran Affairs: Secretary Robert McDonald
    • He has a good vision and plan to resolve issues
    • Wants to connect better with service organizations
    • Wants every regional VA office and hospital and cemetery to attend a town hall meeting
  • Antoine Waller will be transitioning during the last week of office before leaving for Baltimore
    • In meantime, the assistant directors, Kay Anderson and Donna Meyer-Hickel will lead
  • About 25% of claims are being done online now
  • Education benefits are being processed in about 4 days ( 3.7 days is average )

VISN 23 -Janet Murphy- Director VISN 23 - Director Patrick J Kelly
Mpls VA HCS - Director Patrick J Kelly-

  • Newsletter is in the back
  • Fortunate to have Kathy in MACV
  • VHA releases updated information about access to all VA facilities
  • Accelerated care initiative: calling Veterans and offering care I the community for those Veterans with appointments outside of 60 days
    • Biggest backlogged areas are Orthopedics, Audiology, Eye clinics
    • Care in the community is not always readily available either, but try to work together
  • Result in Minnesota from Access Audit: 2 sites on list requiring further review
    • Minneapolis and Rochester
    • Unsure of who will complete extra review or when it will take place
  • Director Kelly has been visiting CBOCs in last month
    • Discussing core values of integrity, commitment, advocacy, respect, and excellence
    • Will be continuing visits every month
  • Productive meeting with commanders to ensure good service and access inside of clinics
  • President is signing VA Reform bill
    • Intended to expand clinics and hire more providers
    • Issue surrounding Veterans choice card
  •  Hosting a hearing on affordable housing
    • Have some extended use lease quarters with 140 units available to Veterans at about $400/month
    • Also obtaining additional units by leasing land to developer, government recovers lands after long lease: Veterans must account for 51% of tenants
  • Moving Compension & Pension section over to Whipple Building next summer
    • Construction underway
    • Will be co-located with Regional Office
    • Will include imaging, audiology and other tests normally given in hospital
  • Will then create Chronic Pain Management Center here
    • Will be sending cohort of 20 Veterans through for a 3-4 week period
  • Recently established hearing services at 3 clinics
    • Northwest Metro- Ramsey, Twin Ports, Maplewood
    • Increasing booths
  • Eye Clinics is busy because of small size
    • Will expand from 10 to 31 eye lanes in September
  • Associate Director resigned
    • Kurt Theland, current Business Manager, will be interim AD

St Cloud VA HCS - Director Barry Bahl -  Barry Venable

  • Just finished walking path on campus (3/4 of a mile)
  • Plans to have spaces reserved for memorial areas: If interested, contact Patricia, Voluntary Service Chief
  • Dental Clinic is up next to open
  • New sidewalks are almost done
  • New mental health building should be done in late fall, new kitchen is next on schedule, rehabilitation center is the last building on the schedule to be done
  • Meetings with stakeholders: normal quarterly CVSO meeting:
    •   August 18th at 10 a.m. in building 96
    • VA Voluntary Services Committee meeting at 4 p.m. in auditorium
  • Flyer for Veterans Rendezvous event on September 6th
    • Designed to ensure a good time and build a connection with the St. Cloud VA
  • Regarding Veterans’ Choice Act: 90 implementation period, so everyone needs to be patient with transitional period of act

Vets Employment & Training Service [VETS] - Davis Seay

  • Still funding available for stand downs, but it is dwindling fast
    • $7,000 for 1 day, $10,000 for 2 day event
    • Call at 651-259-7511 to learn about eligibility criteria and submission process
  • State of MN received $430,00 for Disabled Veterans Outreach program
  • MN Veteran unemployment rate is down to 4.2%
  • USERRA: Uniformed Service Employment Reemployment Rights Act
    • Boom in cases last year
    • Focusing on outreach, and working with employers
    • Been decrease in investigations for USERRA claims

3Federal Congressional Representatives and Senators

Senator Amy Klobuchar- General (RET) Tim Cossalter Not Present

Senator Al Franken- Nicole Ly Not Present

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

4th District Representative - Betty McCollum - Bem Peterson

  • Congresswoman did support and vote for Veterans Reform Act
  • Question about National Defense Authorization- expecting Senate to look at it in September
  • Visits: MACV metro and Fisher House on July 19th
  • Attended stand down-wonderful event
  • Congresswoman will attend joint ground breaking event for  Fire Station Readiness Center along with Stillwater leadership and National Guard on August 22nd

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

6th District Representation - Michele Bachmann- Nicole Pelzer

  • In recess, so not very much to report
  • Currently working with Representative Detmer about Prosthetics and Sensory Aid Services
    • Looking for others to partner with to raise cap from 3 to 10 thousand
  • Veterans casework is on the rise- many Veterans looking for their records for medals
  • Academy season is near so preparing for nominations
  • Jessica Foust is no longer with the office -moving into private sector
  • Brian Gordon, who primarily handles Veterans casework, will be coming to UVLC when Nicole is absent

7th District Representative - Collin Peterson -Jodi Dey - Not Present

8th District Representative - Rick Nolan-  Rick Olseen

  • Let’s Go Fishing- taking seniors/Veterans out fishing
    • Had a good visit with an Honor Flight participant
  • Congressman Nolan reported on 9 bills supporting Veterans
  • Has been hosting a lot of roundtables for Veterans
    • Veterans have been able to voice concerns
    • This is a good bill for the legislature to pass
  • Opposes going into Iraq
    • Feels as though there is no way to ever help win these Religious wars
  • 6 out of 12 appropriations bills still not set when going into recess
  • Hidden Heroes Congressional Caucus for Military Caregivers
    • Goal to help find funding for caregivers
  • 3 calls concerning care at the VA lately mostly caused by bureaucracy

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

2nd District Representative - John Kline - Chaz Johnson

  • HR3230: Veterans Access
    • Only 5 against the bill, 420 were in favor
  • House Resolution 596: Recognizing Hmong for Supporting U.S. Troops in Vietnam
    • Congressman Kline is co-sponsor for that
  • Planning for Service Academy Information Night
    • September 22nd at Diamondhead Education Center in Burnsville from 6-8:30
  • Met with General Nash this morning to discuss future of MN National Guard
  • Comment from Nicole: Kudos to Mike and Nathan Anderson for their website- Congressional Corner

4.            Announcements -

  • Veteran had his weapons taken away for being irate about his care
    • How do we deal with this issue of protecting out Veterans’ rights?
    • Unsure of court outcome
    • Seized his weapons and locked him up
    • Need more information so Veterans can feel safe getting help/treatment without fear of getting rights taken away
  • Thank Tom for sending out information on benefits
  • Veterans Day at the State Fair: Booth from  9-6 on August 26th
    • Volunteer at your groups’ tables

5.       Meeting in Recess for 10 minutes   

  • Business Meeting Not on Recorder