Meeting Minutes for May 2014

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Meeting Minutes - May 2014

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

  • Joe Johnson from Trust Vets is here today
  • Veterans Career Fair on Wednesday, July 9th
    • Earle Brown Heritage Center in Brooklyn Center     
  • State Agencies and MN Veteran Assistance Organization

Yellow Ribbon -Annette Kyper

  • Deployed 220 service members out of 34th Combat Aviation Brigade
    • Going to Camp Ripley  then a year in Kuwait
    • Lot of outreach to those families through YRNs
  • 133rd Airlift Wing is preparing for deployment
  • Within Department of Military Affairs:
  • Several Proclamations coming up
    • Working with Mayo Clinic to become a Yellow Ribbon Company
    • Cargill will be proclaimed on June 11th
    • McGeoff Construction will also be added as a YRC
    • Yellow Ribbon Companies are those companies that have gone above and beyond in all areas to support Veterans and their families
  • Yellow Ribbon Company Seminar several weeks ago at Hennepin County Technical College
    • Share best practices
  • Veteran Employment and Education Taskforce is meeting; several departments working together to plan how to best help Veterans in future
  • June 15th: Newest Yellow Ribbon Communities added
    • Ceremony open to public
    • Quad Communities: New Hope, Robbinsdale, Crystal, and Golden Valley
    • Held at Crystal Airport
  • July 6th Minnesota Twins Proclamation
  • Midwest Community Policing Institute:
    • Veterans in Crisis Training
    • Going into all YRN communities and holding training
    • $15 w/ lunch
    • 8 hour training for first responders and law enforcement
    • May 22nd in Richfield from 8-4 p.m.

Deputy Commissioner -  Robin Gulstad

  • Introduction of Robin Gulstad with Department of Veteran Affairs for 7 or 8 years
  • Veteran Homes are busy with Memorial Day observances
  • Demolition and Construction on Minneapolis campus this summer on main building
    • New 100 bed facility
    • State matching funds in last legislative session
    • Awarded a partial grant, and hoping for complete grant in September
  • Nursing leadership at Silver Bay and  Minneapolis will be applying for Federal Nursing Retention and Recruitment Grant funds
    • To work on recruitment and retention for licensed nursing staff, to provide continued education, and to provide ways to advance in licensure
    • Will apply in July, should hear answer in September
  • Phased out old Advisory Committee
    • Reinstated a new taskforce: Commissioner’s Healthcare Taskforce
    • Met 4 or 5 times, up and running
    • Several key members make up committee
    • Working on: Family Support Services, and Campus Planning Grant ( focusing on Hastings)
  • Legislative front: main focus is on bonding funds for Veterans Home
    • Thought everything was in order for the House, but found out some tweaking on that bill
    • 1.7 million dollars at stake for Laverne and Silver Bay to improve and update resident rooms
    • On Senate side, still funding to negotiate for War memorials in key communities
  • Still moving ahead with personal allowance increase for board and lodge residents

MN Assistance Council for Veterans (MACV)- Kathy Vitalis

  • 1st grant in Minneapolis HVRP: Homeless Veteran Reintegration Program Grant
  • 2nd grant in Duluth
  • 3rd grant for southern counties
  • Drop in legal clinic on May 13th at in VA Medical Center in Minneapolis from 9-2 in the flag atrium balcony
  • Golf tournament: A  Salute to Servicewomen
    • Website: birdeasepro.com/salutetoservicewomen
    • Proceeds are going to MACV
    • June 17th at Prestwick Golf Club in Woodbury
  • Sad news: Durbin Keeney,  Regional Director from 1998-2011, passed away last week
    • Herman Town Community Church: Visitation at 10, Funeral at 11 on Saturday
    • 4880 Maple Grove Road
    • Open House from 2-4  at MACV Ramsey Offices on Friday
  • Veterans Center an Military Families in St. Cloud
    • Met with Good Will Easter Seals
    • Space at the college, staff person hired
    • Reaching out to communities
    • Community space for MACV and others to gather for outreach
    • Trying to stay in touch to help partner and prevent duplication of outreach efforts

Trust Vets - Joe Johnson

  • Driving business to American Military Veterans at trustvets.com
  • Online directory  of Veterans in business
  • Over 50 industries complied
  • Everyone in directory is a verified Veteran
  • Fellow Veterans in community want to do business with Veterans
  • Monthly Networking Meeting for Veterans:
    • At Better Business Bureau of MN in Burnsville
  • Joe Johnson’s phone: 612 799 8397

Military Action Group (MAG) - Jerry Kyser

  • Unwanted results this year at the capital
  • One positive: The Women’s License plate is finally going to get signed off
  • Employee Tax Break for hiring Veterans didn’t get anywhere
  • Veterans Homes Tax Exemption has been advanced from 5 to 8 years
  • Told by House: no money to put In any new programs
  • In the Senate, there is a bill that went through hearing twice to have the Department of Admin certify who qualifies as a Veteran owned business
  • Will just keep on pressing to push this legislature through
  • Bill stating if  business organization hired a disabled or unemployed Veteran, they would get money off of their state business tax gone denied , as well
  • Session ends the 18th, will find out in MAG meeting on the 13th where we are
  • Election in the fall, hopefully those elected will have the same frame of mind for helping Veterans
  • Federal Agencies

VA Regional Office -Antoine Waller Director or Ron Wooley

  • Mr. Antoine Waller is leaving us
    • Tasked with becoming the Regional Director at Baltimore Regional Office
    • Report date is TBD
  • Ron Wooley is leaving for 90 days
    • Claims backlog is decreasing
    • One other issue is backlog of dependency claims
    • Rules Based Processing: You type in the information and if it meets the criteria, it processes the claim
    • VA Central Office hired a team of contractors: will travel to Regional Offices with the largest backlog of dependency claims to see if they can be completed using Rules Based Processing
    • Mr. Wooley will be leading one of these contractor teams.
  • VA received 10 million dollars for training
    • Employees that are identified in struggling in certain areas will receive specific training to increase efficiency and reduce errors
    • Money also used to train management staff
  • VBMSA: Veterans Benefit Management System Awards
    • Being used by St. Paul
    • This system automates the letter to let people know of their benefit awards, in a synchronized format across offices.
    • Average for a compensation form: 165 days
    • St. Paul has been asked to take on additional work to help other offices
    • National Work Queue will reduce backlog
    • (St. Paul is the 2nd best office at processing claims)
    • Priority are EZ claims ( they come in with all evidence)
    • Encourage everyone who is filing a claim to go through a service officer

VISN 23 - Janet Murphy- Director VISN 23 - Christopher Stomberg

  • Serving as Deputy Network Director for VISN 23
  • Also Chief Financial Officer
  • National News: New Under Secretary recently announced by White House
    • His name is Dr. Jeff Murawsky
    • Currently Network Director for VISN 12
    • Still needs to be confirmed by Senate
  • Seeing growth again this year in new or recently expanded clinics
  • One will open later this summer in Shakopee
  • C heck out Calendar of Events in newsletter
  • May is Mental Health awareness month; online resources for Veterans and families
  • Also have entered into business agreement with a company to monitor customer satisfaction
  • National News: Story that 40 patients allegedly died because of delays in care in Phoenix
    • Investigation is ongoing
    • Secondary storyline about scheduling process, stating there is a “secret list”
    • Leadership team and technical advisory teams have been sent to Phoenix to investigate

 VAHCS Mpls - Director Patrick J. Kelly - Mike Rosecrans - Leg. Liaison

  • Parking ramp has been completed for 6 or 7 weeks
    • Was not being utilized, so questioned why?
    • Some people thought you had to pay, and others are just in habit of using old parking
    • Running about 50-60% capacity
    • 1st floor is all handicapped, as well as spaces closest to doors on upper levels
  • Dr. Bruno Marshall is a pain specialist at Minneapolis Medical Center
    • Testified on April 30th before Senate Affairs Committee on  topic of over-medication, opiate medications, and programs on reduction
  • New Veteran ID cards: now being mailed out
    • Once backlog is resolved, replacements will be mailed to those with old ID cards
  • Comments about managing pain with opiates

VAHCS St Cloud VA Medical Center - Director Barry Bahl  - Andrew Frost

  • Rescheduled former PoW program : now on May 15th from 9-12
  • Wind turbine update: Still not accepted
    • VHA lawyers are presentation legal actions with contractors
  • May 17th: Women Veterans Wellness Event
    • At St. Cloud  Civic Center from 9-3
  • May 26th: Annual Memorial Day Program
    • Parade at 10:30, 11 program
  • May 29th: Volunteer Recognition Event
  • New providers: a nephrologist working one day a week, a neurologist working three days a week
  • Pain clinic is now up and running, focusing on opiate reduction
    • Not just VA focusing on opiate reduction, the entire medical field is trying to reduce opiate consumption
  • New ENT provider with interest in cochlear implants for hearing impaired
  • Now have provider doing acupuncture and doing osteopathic manipulation
  • Phoenix story: We don’t believe anything similar is happening in St. Cloud, but still checking

   Ft Snelling Cemetery - Robert Roeser

  • Total internments in April: 391
    • Year to date: 2,510
    • Current population: 208,550
    • Female Vets this month: 9  Total: 1,177
    • WWII: 89
    • Korea: 50
    • Vietnam: 69
    • Persian Gulf: 4
    • Peace time: 14
    • Active Duty: 0
    • Dependents: 165
  • Rifle Squad Honors: 199, Total: 65, 211
  • Big News: Director has moved on, so new Director position announcement will be coming soon
  • Note: $700 fee for dependents to be laid to rest with their Veteran relatives
  • Note: Criteria for internment at Arlington is available online
  • Federal Congressional Representatives and Senators

   6th District Representation - Michele Bachmann- Nicole Pelzer

  • Passing out Congresswoman’s letter for memorial Day
  • Honored to participate in St. Cloud Honor Flight by sending them off and greeting them at airport upon return
    • Very emotional event
    • Congresswoman will be submitting a statement to the Congressional Record and recognizing the Veterans on that flight
  • Congresswoman voted for appropriations bill that will provide for an increase in funds for VA for 5th consecutive year
  • Also keeping an eye on with the breaking news out of the Phoenix VA
  • Congresswoman has been doing mobile office hours: showing up at different locations to help accommodate appointments

 8th District Representative - Rick Nolan - Rick Olseen

  • Last month there were concerns about State legislature not supporting Veterans
    • Went to Capital to speak with majority leaders to express concern
  • Last Saturday former Congressmen Oberstar passed away
  • Duluth Airport looking to extend runway, so group of people went to Washington to garner support for $30 million of funding needed
  • Duluth Airshow on August  23rd and 24th
    • Congressman Nolan will be honorary chairman
    • Blue Angels will be there

 2nd District Representative - John Kline - Chaz Johnson -

  • Congressman Kline is on the House Armed Services Committee, and they are currently marking up the National Defense Reauthorization  Act for 2015
  • Items he is watching: making sure no increases to Tricare, and that funding for Beyond the Yellow Ribbon continues to get funding, supports MilCon budget
  • Speaking about our involvement in Afghanistan
  • Senior Affair at Rosemont Community Center
  • Excited about CBOC opening in Shakopee on June 2nd
    • Congressman Kline will be in attendance for Grand Opening on June 16th
  • Jobs Fair in Eagan from 9-1 at Eagan Community Center
    • 75-80 businesses represented
  • Note: Comments about figuring our whether we will keep troops in Afghanistan or not

 3rd District Representative - Eric Paulson - John Paul Yates

  • Final Update on Academy appointees: 15 appointments ( 2 students with 2 appointments)
    • 8 to Air Force, 3 to Navy, 1 to WestPoint, and 1 to Merchant Marine Academy
    • Reception with them in 1st week of June
  • Whole Delegation of House will be voting for  Military Construction bill, there is increased funding to help with disability backlog for VA, as well as miscellaneous VA construction
  • Note: We have to do something for National Guard Veterans: why are we treating them differently?

                                      Jerry Kyser

  • Note on Stadium Construction: Minority, Woman, and Veterans need to represent a percentage of businesses. Woman and Minorities are meeting their percentages, Veterans are not.
    • Mortenson’s Construction has been working with Veterans to increase numbers
    • Thank everyone involved with Honor Flights: 350 people at Airport for support Veterans
  • Note: working on allowing reservists to be buried in Fort Snelling
  • Note: Please consider volunteering at Armed Forces Service Center
  • Meeting in Recess for 10 minutes  
  • Financial Report
    •  Balance as of April 1st was $5,202.69
    • Deposits of: $150
    • Expenses of : $29.75 for parking, $120 for transcription  = $149.75
    • End balance of: $5,202.94
    • Difference of .24 cents from April to May
    • 2 more organizations paid dues (the Vietnam Veterans of America, and Vietnam Veterans Charity) so still have 9 organizations/individuals that need to pay  
    • Membership dues collected should total $2,350
    • Motion made to accept
  • Idea to have an audit once a year
  • Old Business: None
  • New Business: 
  • UVLC has given $3000 for Honor Flights
  • Stand down at MACV has grown so much, has started to raise enough money to do what they want to
    • The more people in attendance, the more resources needed
  • Question: Are people who have donated donating less for Honor Flight?
    • Event costs about 50-70 thousand dollars
    • Rundown of costs: $4-6k for airplane busses, hats, clothes, etc.
  • Suggestion to give reimburse Ralph for mileage from Elk River to Minneapolis
  • Motion amended to make an annual standing stipend for travel
    • Increase stipend up to $500
    • Create documentation of travel ( such as mileage log)
    • When to give award stipend? July
  • Need to obtain list of current Commander/Chairman for all organizations in attendance at meetings
  • Turmoil over Commander’s Taskforce representing MN
    • There are organizations that belong to us, that do not belong to them
    • Misinformation and miscommunication
    • One of the problems is that groups that attend do not send our minutes out to everyone they belong to
    • Goal is to get the information out
    • Debates about electronic communication logistics/snail mail costs
  • Got a letter from VFW saying they no longer want to be members of UVLC
  • Women’s Marine Organization membership is dwindling
    • At what point in time do they get so small that they do not pay any dues?
    • Several organizations are in the same situation
    • Motion to waive dues for Woman Marines
    • Idea for another organization to ‘sponsor’ other organizations
    • Motion carried to exempt Women Marines from dues

Adjournment/ Next Meeting 9:30 AM - Wednesday 4 June, 2014