Meeting Minutes for March 2014

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Meeting Minutes - March 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
  • Announcements - Ralph Donais, Chairman - Jerry Kyser, Vice Chairman.
    • Sad announcement- 2 Marines were killed, take a minute to pray for their families
    • March 17th is Veteran’s Day at the Capitol
      • Ceremony in Rotunda from 10-11
      • After ceremony, visit representatives
      • 3/28 and 4/4 : If the bills haven’t been through 2 committees, it’s a dead issue
      • Will be issue with parking
      • Will discuss presentation for Legislatures after MAG meeting
      • “Military and Veterans” is the correct term for finding bills online

1. Federal Agencies
VA Regional Office - Director, Antoine Waller
Welcome Miranda Suba

  • 94% of claims are in paperless environment
  • Pension workload through Veteran benefits Management System
  • Currently, VBA is engaging in a spring surge of all possible personnel processing claims
    • Working on national workload queue to provide same level of service in every state
    • Very successful in managing workload
    • 600, 000 pending claims nation wide
    • 377, 000 are backlogged status; goal is to have no claim pending more than 125 days by 2015
    • 38 % decrease in backlogged claims since last year
    • For Minnesotans, claims should be processed within 90 days if FDC
    • Security Breach in eBenefits system: credit monitoring offered to all Veterans affected
    • Still on Mandatory Overtime

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

  • Ms. Murphy she is still detailed to Washington, back this week
  • Brought Newsletter
    • Feature story on Women’s Healthcare (reproductive healthcare, preventative care, etc.)
    • Every facility now has full time Women’s Healthcare center
    • About 10% of Veterans are women; rate of growth of women patients treated is twice that of overall population
  • New ID cards coming out; replacement cards beginning to be sent out in April
  • Budget: In good shape, annual budget is about 2.5 million
  • Quality of Care is providing the best quality in VHA due to networks standards
  • Data point observation: rate of growth  of patients is static

    Mpls VA HCS - Director Patrick J Kelly - Mike Rosecrans- Leg. Liaison

  • Began putting panels up on West side of building
  • Hopefully parking ramp will be done very soon
  • Grand Opening of CBOC in Albertlea in mid-April
    • Program will be 1-4 pm
  • Now focusing on getting Shakopee Clinic up and running
    • Will open in mid- June

St Cloud VA HCS - Director Barry Bahl - Atlas Anagnos

  • Windmill still not working; legal contracting action pending
  • Hosting Annual Recognition Program for POWs
    • April 4th
    • Invitations being sent to all formal POWs or their widows
    • If aware of POW that doesn’t receive invitation, contact or call at 320-255-6365
  • March 25th: MN Assistance Council Legal Clinic
  • April 22nd: Clothesline Project Event
  • Annual Report-all data and statistics for St. Cloud VA healthcare system for last year-brochures on table
  • Pain Clinic up and running
    • Echocardiograms,  CVT to home starting this spring, and Acupuncture Osteopathic Manipulation clinic beginning soon
  • Continuing to recruit new providers to help with these new services
  • New ENT started, and have a neurologist and a nephrologist starting soon
  • LAB CAP survey passed with flying colors
  • Groundbreaking for new kitchen on April 2nd at 9 am
  • Designs for new projects( mental health expansion, CLC cottages and acute imaging center) almost done
  •  Construction on dental & pharmacy projects are almost done being constructed
  • Audiology ribbon cutting ceremony opened a few weeks ago

  Vets Employment & Training Service [VETS] - Director, Scott Wills - Davis Seay

  • 2 grant cycles
  • Standowns: brought information on how to apply
    • 1st come 1st serve- only about $600, 000 available nationwide
    • Historically runs out by end of fiscal year
    • Submissions must be in 90 before event takes place
  • Competitive Grants are also coming up on their new cycles
    • Cannot provide technical assistance, but can tell you where to submit
  • Most investigations for this year were resolved via settlements or back wages reinstalled
    • All taken care of, except 2 brand news ones received yesterday

2. Federal Congressional Representatives and Senators
Senator Amy Klobuchar- General (RET) Tim Cossalter

  • Were able to reverse 1 % reduction
    • Affects current retirees and service members
  • Big Veterans bill going through Senate failed
    • Trying to reengage and get it through
  • Called the family of Lance Corporal Caleb Erickson ( who was killed )

Nicole Ly from Senator Franken Office

  • Excited about Comprehensive health bill to hopefully be put through
  • April is Month of the Military Child, and poetry month
    • Children’s poetry contest
    • Theme: “Celebrating the Veteran in my Life”
  • Presented WWII Veteran with Night of the Legion Honor medal 2 weeks ago
    • At Coon Rapids VFW
  • Meeting with various service organizations in D.C.
    • Heard about legislative priorities for the year
  • (Audience comment) Military Child Education Coalition
    • Info for educators on how to deal with military children

   1st District Representative - Tim Walz - Shawn Schoesser

  • Congressmen and Sean will be attending services for Caleb Erickson
  • Reviewing Army Force structure plan
    • Appreciate General Nash’s education for Congressional staff on this
  • Congressmen Wahl wrote  letter to Secretary of Defense regarding comments General Mcnara made on behalf of National Guard placing National Guard and Army Reserves under the rest of the Army
  • Happy to see Military retiree cuts restored
  • Continue to press Pentagon for audit
  • Reviewing VA budget for 2015
    • Attending hearings on VA committee to hear viewpoints

2nd District Representative - John Kline - Chaz Johnson

  • Cosign for HR4031: VA management Accountability Act
    • Provide VA Secretary for ability to remove senior personnel not performing duties
  • Good to be with National Guard this morning
  • Bob Davis retired

3rd District Representative - Eric Paulson - John Paul Yates

  • In Washington, Congressmen Paulson met with MN Chapter of VFW
  • Met with delegation from MN Disable American Veterans
  • Visited with Sgt. Justin Hadasaw: One of five injured in suicide bomber attack in Afghanistan

4th District Representative - Betty McCollum - Connie Haddeland

  • Congresswoman is a member of House of Appropriations on Defense Appropriations,
  • Hearings will start immediately
  • Summary of this year’s budget: total VA funding has grown 68% since 2009
    • 6.5% over last year’s fiscal year
  • Mandatory benefits programs are 58.4% of this budget ( 164 Billion dollar budget)
    • 250 million for homeless initiative
  • List of Bills Congresswoman is on
  • Service Academy: Able to notify 3 more people that they had been admitted, including a young woman admitted to West Point
  • April 15th :Service Academy Information Night at Mounds View High School
    • Open to anyone interested
    • All Congressional staff talk about processes in offices

5th District Representative - Keith Ellison - Mike Siebenaler

  • Signed on to letter of Secretary of Defense
    • Stop payday loans by bases
    • Very high interest rate
    • Secretary has decided not to weigh in on this in the past, trying to change their mind
  • Congressmen also signed on to HR3930: Billy by Rep Joe Wilson out of S. Carolina
    • Asking that no cuts in Dept. of Defense be implemented until studies are complete
  • Had great visit out to Minneapolis VA Medical Center
    • Got to see spinal cord injury unit
    • Met with Director Patrick Kelly

         6th District Representation - Michele Bachmann - Nicole Pelzer

  • Has cosponsored on HR9921 Chiropractic Care Available to All Veterans Act
    • Provide for chiropractic care and services to Veterans at all Dept. of Veteran Affair  medical centers
  • Congresswoman was up in St. Cloud, handing out Valentine’s at St Cloud VA Hospital on the 13th
    • Staff also participated in formal Valentine handout at the St. Cloud VA
    • Spent time with Director Barry to talk about new projects and toured new construction
  • Sgt. Jason Fry is our Legislative Assistant for Military and Veterans
    • Will be going to meetings, talking to Veterans and service officers
      • Can make appointment with him if desired
  • Did Represent Disabled American Veterans at Library of Congress last week
    • St. Paul service center backlog, mental health issues, Advanced Appropriations Senate Veterans bill, and potential house legislation
  • Academy: Had 10 applicants, were able to give nominations to all 10
    • Have heard 6 of them have letters of acceptance

8th District Representative - Rick Nolan - Rick Olsteen

  • On 2/25, at American Legion in Colcay they had a Democracy Writing Contest
    • Students read their speeches, Congressman spoke
  • Congressmen Nolan has cosponsored 14 military/Veteran bills
  • Battle between National Guard/Army/Reserve as funding goes down
  • MN VFW met with D.C. Staff talking about bills
  • Kudos to Fort Snelling: Very helpful in working with recent family to ensure burial wishes carried out

3. State Agencies and MN Veteran Assistance Organizations
                           MN Dept. of Veteran Affairs - Commissioner Larry Shellito - Michael Gallucci

  • Introduce Robin  Gaustad: My replacement
  • With regard to payday loans: It’s important to remember leadership skills, and teach service members  how to live responsibly
  • On website for MN legislature, look for bills that are introduced
    • Veteran’s preference: Would like to move to arbitrator with employer picking up cost
      • Important: Arbitrator’s decision is not appealable
    • Bills for Homelessness: VA does not intend to expand foster care
      • Subcommittee feels like CBOCs are great jumping off point for rural health, telehealth services, etc.
      • Cannot seem to differentiate between two populations
      • Bill 2665 or 2557: Dealing with Tiering of Waitlist
  • Tiering: 70% and above VA disability for 1st tier, then Medal of Honor, Purple Heat, POWs for 2nd tier,  then all other Veterans with credible service or 2 year residency, then spouses may be considered, then goldstar mothers
  • Not in position to make any further comments
  • Day on the Hill on 3/17
  • VA is facing budgetary issues
    •  Pilot Program that VA is working with private company to begin across the nation
    • The Assisted Living VA Pilot Program
    • Designed to provide care to Veterans with traumatic brain injury
    • Currently, VA is looking to reduce or do away with this
    • How can we walk away from TBI?
  • Meet and Greet at King’s Inn in  St. Paul, with Legislatures
    • 5-7:30
  • Ralph and Jerry put time into organizing this
    • Present person Honor Coin to them

-Mike says what an honor and privilege it has been to be a part of the UVLC, thank you and salute for everything they have done
MN Military Affairs - COL Sandy Best- Annette Kyper

  • Was supposed to gather best practices in D.C. for Yellow Ribbon, but was told nobody was doing it better than Minnesota! ( Trip postponed due to weather)
  • First Joining Community Forces meeting
    • To offer 5 opportunities for service providers and YRN members to build relationships/share information
    • 2/8 in Bloomington, 70 participants
    • All evaluations reflected event as valuable use of time
    • Next meeting is this Saturday in Mankato at Mankato State University
      • Registration still open
    • In April, meetings at Moorhead & Detroit Lakes
    • In May, meeting in Duluth
  • Midwest Community Policing Institute training is successful
    • 8 hour training for all public safety, social services, etc. personnel to respond to and help Veterans in crisis
    • All dates are on website: Buffalo on 3/27, Faribault 5/19, Richfield 5/22
    • Great feedback from public safety members after training
  • Next week, Department of Labor ( Scott Mills) and Jim Finley from DEED and I have been invited back to National Workforce Development Conference
    • National conference for people who work in all areas of workforce development
    • Last year, Dept. of Labor, Deed, and MDVA ( Barb O’Reilly ) and I held a breakout session called Leaders in Veteran Employment
      • Educated  leaders on initiatives for Veteran employment
      • Military 101: So they know what it’s like to be a service member, and know what background Veterans are bringing with them into the workplace, talk about value in hiring Veteran employees
  • Month of the Military Child in April
    • On 4/15 in the rotunda, Governor Dayton is signing a proclamation to proclaim April month of the Military Child at 9 a.m.
    • Everyone is invited to attend
    • Asking YRN to hold up this month in their communities ( to recognize military youth in their districts)
    • Have over 23, 000 military youth in MN

MN Assistance Council for Veterans (MACV)- Kathy Vitalis

  • Legal Clinic in St. Cloud on 3/15
  • 27 legal clinics this year
  • Recipient for V4V grant
  • Grant through Masons: offered donation due to extreme cold and propane shortage
  • Spoke to a group of Purple Heart Veterans
    • Discovered possible need for legal clinic in Anoka
    • Outreach on Saturday morning
    • Need community to tell us when they need outreach
  • National Coalition for Homeless Veterans put story about MACV on front of newsletter
    • Story about funding ineligibility
    • El Dorado in Wisconsin started meat raffle to help fund, raised $12, 000
  • Veteran’s story: A homeless shelter in Texas has a 70 year old Vietnam Veteran who has been hitchhiking between MN and TX for 30 years. Has finally agreed to connect with MACV and let them help him obtain state ID, birth certificate, and SS.
  • Have extra MACV pins- made in the USA!

Military Action Group (MAG) -  Jerry Kyser

  • Process of trying to introduce bills: Department of  Veteran Affairs committee schedule, 6 or 7 pages of what is happening
  • Half page information sheet on important bills for Legislatures
    • Hope to get MN retired military be able to get tax deduction
    • Tax deduction for hiring veterans and disabled veterans
    • Women’s license plate
    • Reciprocity for service time/classroom credit in school
    • Veterans housing and long term care
    • Rep. Howe: Veterans’ preference
    • Military retirement
  • Need to be championing these issues
  • Working to make sure if you’re 100% disabled and your spouse is taking care of you, you get a tax deduction of up to $300, 000 on your homestead for lifetime
  • Vikings Stadium: UVLC is the entity for Veteran owned small businesses to submit verification given to equity director ( Alex Tittle) to enter bidding contents
    • Women, minorities and Veterans are over goal of 35%
    • Over 9 % were women owned, 11% minority, only 2% are Veteran owned businesses
    • All they need to do is submit minimal paperwork, then we do a check , and give to Alex Tittle
    • Total number of people employed is 7500 people : would like 10% to be Veterans
    • Advocate for Veteran owned businesses to get them involved
    • Trying to make MN more Veteran friendly

4. Announcements -

  • 3/27 is Vietnam Veteran’s Appreciation Day
  • 3/29 is celebration: VN Veterans Day Program at Forest Lake American Legion
  • Minnesota Vietnam Charity are sponsoring the $500 scholarship for students writing contest
  • Next Honor Flight is April 26th: 187 on waiting list, only take 80 Veterans at a time
    • Next one is October 11th

5. Meeting in Recess for 10 minutes   
Treasurers Report for Month of March

  • Beginning Balance is $4,282     
  • Deposits of $500
  • Parking was $29.75
  • Left with $4,752.42     

About 58% of Membership dues have been paid
            About $1150 to go for dues goal   
Who still needs to pay: Fort Snelling Museum, Disabled American Veterans, Jewish War Veterans, National Guard Association of MN, National Guard Enlisted Association, Vietnam Veterans Charity, Department of Minnesota Reserve Officers Association, Services Disabled Veterans Businesses, U.S. Marine Veterans, Vietnam Veterans of America, Women’s Marines, Mick Kaicos, Mark Carlson

    • Discussion of why VFW chose not to rejoin
    • Discussion of American Legion does not belong
  • Discussion of inequality of creating a Hmong statue (due to other ethnicities not being represented)
  • Can give all ethnic groups memorandum of appreciation
  • Honorary Member flag- flag for deceased member of a family ( large flag with gold star)
    • For family members that have lost a loved one   
    • 26 states have approved it
  • U.S.S Minnesota: $200, 000 for scholarships for family members
  • Eagles Nest grant: $100, 000
  • Will email feedback
  • Will have information to committee chairs before the 17th

Next meeting 2 April, 2014