Meeting Minutes for February 2014

Minutes Header

February 2014

Meeting Agenda-

  • 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
    • Colonel Smiley: 88th Regional Support Command
    • Army Reserve Colonel Jeff Beechem
    • President of Air Force Association Lawrence Sagstetter
  • Announcements - Ralph Donais, Chairman - Jerry Kyser, Vice Chairman.
    • Staffer from State Capital
  • State Agencies and MN Veteran Assistance Organizations

MN Dept. of Veteran Affairs - Mike Gallucci, Deputy Commissioner

  • Retiring on March 21st
  • Appreciates support and will continue fighting for Veterans until his last day
  • Next meeting for Commissioner’s Health Care Taskforce is on 2/19/14
  • Has expanded taskforce to include outer homes and families’ councils to include Veterans from across the state
  • 98% certain they will receive partial funding of Phase 3 (15 Million out of 35)
    • 95% pre-design for Phase 3
    • Demolition on 17 North begins on 3/24/14
    • Hopefully begin construction late summer of 2014
    • Completion probably in December of 2015
  • Received letter for  Building 19, have been recognized and approved by CMS
    • Will take 6 weeks for finalize paperwork
    • Effective back to January 6th of this year
  • Telehealth
    • Waiting for all signatures to be obtained
    • Hopefully begin tele-medicine in Mid-March
    • Very excited for Telehealth and electronic medical records
  • Currently working with CVSOs, VSOs
    • Visiting homes to update disability files of all Veterans
    • Set up on Birth Month Audit system
    • Will ensure that Veterans and spouses will have opportunity to upgrade services or appeals
    • Will encourage signing of POAs

MN Military Affairs - COL Sandy Best is doing Congressional visits this week
Director of Military Outreach, Annette Kyper

  • Proclaimed new Yellow Ribbon Networks:
    • Pipestone County and city of Pipestone
    • Carlton County and city of Cloquet
    • McCleod Construction
    • Goal was to have a Yellow Ribbon Network in all 63 of  National Guard or Air Base Communities ( Very close to achieving)
    • Total of : 202 cities, 23 counties, 35 companies that have been proclaimed Yellow Ribbon
  • This Saturday, 2/8/14: Bringing Yellow Ribbon Networks together to share best practices, share initiatives, and connect with service providers and motivating their work
    • Yellow Ribbon began during a Deployment cycle, has grown into so much more than that
    • Last year, challenged YRN to support Veterans of any age
    • Everyone is invited to these Joining Community Forces events: This Saturday it’s held at Bloomington at Normandale Community College
    • Mankato, Detroit Lakes, Duluth, and Moorhead will be offering Joining Community Forces MN
  • Upper Midwest Community Policing Institute
    • Training for De-escalation Strategies for MN Veterans in Crisis
    • First one is in Elk River on 2/18/14
    • Several day long training events for public safety, mental health, professionals, volunteers
    • $15, includes lunch
  • Looking at sustainability of Yellow Ribbon Networks
    • What do they need to sustain efforts?
    • YRN are led by volunteers ( which have different levels of leadership capabilities)
    • Looking to help them with leadership
    • Need to recognize YRN for their efforts
    • YRN needs to have a purpose for volunteering, so they need to know the needs of Veterans in the communities

Mr. Richie

  • Final Year of Civil War Task Force
    • More information to come
    • Last big event is taking a bus down to Nashville
    • This is where MN played a critical role in a battle that ended the South
  • MAG meetings are up and running
    • Hope to get money for basic work needed to save buildings at Fort Snelling
    • Move forward to preserve Fort Snelling forever
    • Need to have it in the budget for bonding bill
  • Will receive info on change in election law that may be useful to members
    • Will be able to vote by mail/absentee without having excuse
  • Trying to identify more Veteran Owned Businesses
    • Specific request for Veteran Owned engineering firms
    • Need more permanent and sophisticated system for tracking Veteran Owned Businesses
    • Get word out so we can build that list

MN Assistance Council for Veterans (MACV) - Regional Director Jimmy Collier

  • Standown dates for 2014:
    • Fergus Falls-April 24th
    • Metro-August 5th & 6th at Fort Snelling
    • Virginer-August 21st
    • Duluth-August 22nd
    • Bemidji-September 24th
    • Grand Rapids-September 25th
    • Marshall-October 14th
    • Mankato-November 12th
  • Legal Clinics for month of March
    • March 4th -Bemidji
    • March 5th -Hibbing
    • March 7th -Minneapolis ( In Auditorium)
    • March 18th -Wilmer
    • March 19th- Marshall
    • March 25th -St. Cloud

Department of Labor, Veterans Employment - Dave C.

  • Federal Register for Stand downs was published on 1/28/14
    • $600, 000 = 70 Stand downs
    • $10, 000 for multiple day event, $7, 000 for one day event
    • Eligibility info: state and local work force investment boards, Veterans service organizations, local  public agencies and tribal governments, non-profit organizations
    • Organizations registered with the IRS are not eligible
    • First come first serve
    • Can apply for more than one grant if services are geographically separated

Military Action Group (MAG) - Jerry Kyser

  •  February 11th is next meeting, 300 A or B, whichever the Representative has
    • Both Senate and House attendees on this one
    • Trying to get more Veteran Owned Businesses in MN and at the federal level
    • Need the bill to say that Veterans are as economically disadvantaged as women and minorities
    • Problem with Federal contracts
    • State of MN contracts are $20-$30, trying to get more Veteran Owned Businesses there
    • Representative Detmer had a few bills pertaining to the market value of surviving Veteran spouses
    • Bill on taxing process
    • 20 states now have a flag honoring deceased members of military, will be brought up again at State level
    • PTAC assists Veterans, minorities, and women to work with state and federal organizations
    • Need to be at least 51% owned by Veterans/women/minorities
  • Trying to make it so military members going to college don’t need to take remedial classes, because they have already learned the material through the armed forces
    • Certification process working on that.
  • Representative  Howe discussing Veterans preference for hearing costs for job lawsuits
    • Will also be discussed at Veterans taskforce this afternoon
    • Day on the Hill: March 17th
  • Vikings Stadium Meeting on 1/30/14
    • One contract for $1.5 million for 1 Veteran owned business
    • MetroSports website has updated contract information and what needs they still have
    • They are trying to find more Veteran owned businesses to work on the stadium(Idea to advertise so more Veterans know)
    • Sub-contractors’ training on 2/20/14 (At 1010 South 7th street at 2 p.m.)
    • Alan Duff will be working with Veteran Owned Businesses
    • Trouble finding qualifications that they need to hire (need to verify qualifications)
    • None of the hiring at the stadium is based on people, it’s based on work hours
    • Will send out info and contact info as he gets it
  • Federal Agencies

VA Regional Office - Antoine Waller, Director

  • Backlog of claims is being worked on. ( Goal of having no claim older than 125 days)
    • In St. Paul, still contributing to getting back log under control
    • Nationally, a little under 700, 000 claims pending
    • About 400,000 of those are considering backlogged ( older than 125 days)
    • Sharing workload across the nation
    • Since April, taken the initiative to work the oldest claims first
    • Still prioritizing and expediting based on needs such as being homeless
    • Can submit claims online
    • Creating national workload model; share work across all regional offices for higher efficiency
  • Folks in regional office have reconstituted mandatory overtime
  • Cost of living adjustment (increase of 1.5%) took place 1/1/14 on benefits
  • Incident with online claims submission; breach in data/security
    • Quickly identified, system was shutdown
    • All Veterans affected were contacted and offered free credit monitoring by VA
    • System back up, hopefully won’t have any more issues
  • Veterans that have service related TBI who also have incidence of Parkinson’s, Dementia, Depression, or Seizures can also have those related issues calculated into their benefits
  • New forms for submitting new claims ( 93% of claims are currently paperless)
  • Final phase of construction at Whipple Building
    • By December of 2014, project should be completed
    • Lot of amenities to improve user experience
  • Issues surrounding data stored on Veteran Identification cards
  • Questions regarding processing of claims: Yes, every claim they process they do get credit that it was processed in the state of MN

VISN 23- Christopher A. Stomberg, Acting Deputy Network Director

  • Ms. Murphy sends regards; she is still detailed to Washington
  • Dr. Julius is also in Washington for a meeting
  • Brought Newsletter for February
    • Black History Month, National Salute to Veteran Patients, Looking for Submissions for 2014 Veteran’s Day Poster, Friday is National Wear Red day (call attention to heart disease for women), Get your Flu Shot!
  • VISN 23 leads all VISNs in how many members of staff that received flu shots
    • Health care focus is on healthy lifestyles/proactive health
  • Mayors of St. Paul and Minneapolis declared a campaign to end Veteran homelessness by 2015
    • Active on outreach, prevention, treatment, housing support
    • VISN 23 sponsored more Stand down events last month than any other VISN in the country
    • Also will be operating 8 Community Outreach and Resource Center
    • Screen upwards of 230, 000 patients ( over 1% of them screened positive for homelessness or risk)
    • Treated 4, 399 Veterans that were homeless
    • 1, 241 Veterans currently leased with vouchers from HUD/VA
  • Budget: Got more money in medical facilities appropriation(NRM program used to do maintenance and upgrades to facilities)

VAHCS Mpls- Director Patrick J. Kelly

  • Construction company cleaned up Lot 1 next to parking ramp (picked up 100 parking spots)
  • Still a few weeks for ramp to open
  • Veteran ID cards: won’t have SS # on it
    • If scanned with smart phone, will pick up that information
    • Can prevent by buying a protective anti-scan case for your cards( or use tin foil)
  • First Impressions Project in lobby of Flag Atrium
    • Having Air flow issues
    • Created massive wind tunnel
  • Albert Lee CBOC is underway.
    • Valor is the contractor
    • Manage 22 VA clinics
    • Open in April
  • Starting to add in-house mammograms, plastic surgery, and counseling for female Veterans
  • Will be hiring a Veterans Experience Officer ( to handle non-medical needs of patients)
    • Patient advocates will fall under them
  • Can fill form out for medication copay exemption test
  • Resources for child care at Veterans’ Center?
    • Not at the time, will bring it up at office

VAHCS St. Cloud VA Medical Center - Barry Bahl

  • Have hired new physicians over past year ( takes 3-4 months to onboard)
    • One of those is a PA to do home care in Wilmer
  • Ribbon Cutting on past Monday for recently expanded audiology clinic
    • Now have 7 booths serving Veterans of the St. Cloud VA
  • Kitchen groundbreaking is April 2nd
  • Pharmacy construction is in Phase 3
  • Dental Clinic and Building 49 expansion continues
  • Tremendous progress has been made on Mental Health building ( roof is on now)
  • Building 28-will expand residential rehab areas
  • Designing for new imaging center, second floor for building 111, and community living center cottages
  • Will position budget to be tighter for next year
    • Spending about $28/day for fuel oil
    • Geo thermal will be coming this spring
    • Wind turbine does not work ( in the hands of contracting officials and lawyers)
  • National Salute is February 12-19th
  • Creative Arts Competition February 12-13th in Auditorium
  • Open House on February 14th

Ft. Snelling Cemetery - Kurt Parson, Assistant Director

  • During January 2013, had 333 internments ( 4 of which were female)
  • Total 1,592 internments to date for year
  • Had 147 Rifle Squad Honors
    • Theresa Winters is head of Rifle Squad
  • Total internments: 207, 632
  • Anticipating room until 2050

From Congressmen Kline’s office- Chaz Johnson

  • Continue to monitor NEA, looking for feedback
  • TriCare Prime Act: provision that expanded radius to 100 miles( doesn’t help Veterans in Minneapolis)
    • Looking to introduce legislation in the future on this
  • On Monday there was HR357:GI Tuition Fairness Act
    • Extension of work study program, vocal rehab, training assistance, rounding out of COLA, homeless Vets reintegration training program
    • Majority of students they nominated to service academy are great
  • Urge YRN and others who work with civilian volunteers to educate them on acronyms and resources that are available

Congressmen Paulson’s Office-John Paul Yates

  • Congressmen is meeting with Attendant General in Washington
  • Has been calling our Academy appointees ( 6)
  • House passed the bill to increase funding for the VA for about 2.3 Billion
    • Allocated over 43 Billion for various VA medical services

4th District Representative - Betty McCollum - Connie Haddeland

  • On 1/27/14, had announcement meeting with Stillwater officials and MNNG that new readiness center for Stillwater was funded
    • Significant construction west of town, will include Stillwater Fire Department
      • 20 million dollars, 79, 000 sq.ft.
      • Full time staff of Guard will be there ( 26)
      • Drill strength at 180
      • Will replace 92 year old Stillwater Armory
    • Wonderful example of federal, state, and local government working together
      • 12, 000 sq.ft. of common space for use by community
      • Completion date by 2015
  • Chairman and ranking members will start holding hearings
  • White House will release VA budget on March 4
  • Historytheatre.com
    • One man show of Tim O’Brian’s “The Things They Carried” from 3/15-4/6
    • From 3/16-4/6th doing production about lonely soldiers, woman at war in Iraq
  • Representative from Congressmen Nolan’s office
  • Touring VA to hand out Valentine’s
  • New CBOC in Hibbing and Ely
    • Setting up meeting will Sterling Medical
  • Congressmen Recommended 5 academy nominations out of 10
  • Huge issues with propane shortage and prices – let Veterans know there is help
    • Was an expansion of eligibility
  • Congressmen Wahl joined his 19 of his colleagues in bipartisan effort to introduce the Wounded

Announcement:

  • Veterans Recreation Act of 2014- HR3976
    • Legislation provides a no cost, lifetime pass into National parks/recreational lands
  • Armed Forces Servicemen center volunteering by airport ( for active members)
  • Again this year, Culver's Jammers will be playing on February 22, from 1:00- 4:00 we will be jamming, bluegrass/country style for the Fisher House of Mpls.
    • We will be honoring the vets, the military and the families of these wonderful military folks.
    • We will be singing at Culver's in Blaine MN, up on Highway 65, 10550 Baltimore st ne.
    • Free sundae's for the vets and we will be honoring them all day.  
    • Collecting all the money we can for the fisher house of mpls.
    • In the past five years, we and the other 18-20 jamming groups jamming around the world   have collected
    • Over a quarter of a million dollars for the fisher house foundation or other military causes. 
    • spread the word for us to the different VFW's    
    • We are going before the Legion this year.  
    • Any idea's you have will be great.  And we will sure depend upon you to spread the word in the community of the military vets.
    • Barb Carlson, leader of the culver's jammers. 763-784-7881  
  • Duluth Community Joining Forces is May 17th
  • End of February is Military Saves Week
    • Event on 2/19 at Better Business Bureau HQ  

Meeting in Recess for 10 Minutes

Treasury Report:

  • Only about 15% of organizations have paid dues for this year
  • Balance as of beginning of January:  $4,103.09
    • Expenses in January: $170.90
    • Transcription expense is $120, parking is $29.75, postage and envelopes $21.15
    • Balance is $4282.19 as of today
    • Motion to accept: motion accepted
  • Old Business:
  • Putting together flyer that’s going to the House and Senate
    • Should be finalized for next MAG meeting
      • Session is open for Day on the Hill
        • Next UVLC meeting is March 5th
        • MAG meeting is 2/11/14, SOB Building, Room 300 North at 10 am.
  • Important to push admin people downtown to certify Veteran Owned Businesses

New Business:

  • Work on getting payment plan for dues: Pay for future years and get discount
  • Motion to allow people to contact Treasurer to pay in advance
  • No more new business, meeting adjourned