Meeting Minutes for November 2014

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Meeting Minutes - November 5, 2014

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

Mike McElhiney - Legislative Director, Minnesota Department of Veteran Affairs

  • We have developed our legislative agenda, we have about 20 initiatives that we will put forward.  Administration will look at how much money they have to spend next year in the budget and they will make their plan.  Typically around Christmas time is when we will understand  as agencies what the most likely yeses and nos are going to be as far as the agenda for the next year.
    Governor has to submit his budget to the legislature by January 27.  February forecast is when they will understand what is going to happen as far as the agency’s initiatives.
  • There are several Legacy issues that will be dealt with.
  • There will be some adjustments to the Minnesota GI Bill.
  • Next week is Veteran’s Day.  They will be having their program in Inver Grove Heights.
  • Introduced Brad Lindsey, he is the acting deputy commissioner for the programs and services with the vet’s home.
  • Discussion was held on GI Bill.

LTC Joseph Sharkey - MN Military Affairs

  • Leadership Changes: No significant leadership changes either in the Department of Military Affairs or in the Air Army National Guard.
  • LTC Sharkey and Sandy Best, in conjunction with the Minnesota office of the Secretary of State hosted a 13   member delegation from the Foreign Affairs Committee from the Parliament of Finland, along with the Ambassador of the Republic of Finland to the United States.
  • 96 Airmen from the Minnesota National Guard 133rd Airlift Wing, scheduled to return to Minnesota after a  4 month deployment to southwest Asia.
  •  They will also be supporting many Veteran’s Day events.
  • Minnesota Wild will be having Military Appreciation Day on 13 November.
  • Legislative updates:
    • As reported last month, Military Funeral Honor budget has been significantly reduced.  They worked this last month with the National Guard Bureau and notified all states that they anticipate a funding be will approved to physical year 2014 levels.  So the shortfall is not anticipated and should be resolved within the next 30-60 days.
  • Beyond the Yellow Ribbon:
    • On 11/10, Major General Nash will proclaim Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall as a Beyond the Yellow Ribbon company.
    • On 11/17 in Big Lake will have community kickoff to begin the process of sanctioning Big Lake to become a Yellow Ribbon Community.
    • On 12/15, City of Hugo will celebrate their five year anniversary as a Yellow Ribbon Community, at the Hugo City Hall.
    • On 1/14/2015, Minneapolis Community and Technical College will be proclaimed as a Yellow Ribbon company.

Patrick Kelly - Director of the Minneapolis VA Health Care System.

  • Now have over 100,000 veterans enrolled in the Minneapolis VA health care system.
  • Because of growth their budget is slightly increased.
  • The Choice card and how that will be utilized was discussed.  Cards will be mailed in phases, first       group will be those that live more than 40 miles outside of the service area.  Second group will be those veterans that are unable to get care in the system within 30 days.
  • Discussion about the Ebola virus.
  • Encouraged everybody to get their flu shot.
  • Last year we opened two new clinics, Albert Lea & Shakopee.  Enrollment has been a little slower than they would have liked, so they are doing open houses in those two locations, making veterans aware of the locations.
  • They are also having a Veteran’s Day event.
  • Two new programs, accredited for their pain program.  Opened Women’s breast imaging center.
  • Next town Hall meeting on 12/11 in Rochester.  It has been requested to do Town Hall meetings on every quarter.      

Kathy Vitalis -MN Assistance Council for Veterans (MACV)

  •  Stand downs:  Mankato on 11/12.
  • Metro Legal Clinic 11/18 and 12/9 at VA in Minneapolis and a 12/16 St. Cloud clinic.
  • Holiday open house at Bldg 47, 12/5, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
  • A homeless veteran reintegration program grant for employment has been received in Metro & Duluth and they just received one for Mankato.
    • Their offices have moved to 724 Madison Avenue.
    • St. Mary’s Greek Eastern Orthodox Church in Minneapolis presented a donation to this committee of $1,000 for homeless vets.
  • Introduced David Nguyen:
    • Outreach manager for MACV.
    • Shared his story of enlistment and deployment.
    • Shared how he is able to help homeless vets, along with preventing homelessness.
    • He attends FHPAP meetings and talks with service providers.

 Jerry Kyser - Military Action Group (MAG)

  • Next meeting on 11/25, 10:00
  • Vikings Stadium, looking to improve veteran’s participation.
    • Only 5% of  workers are Veterans.
  • Really hoping to get the veteran owned businesses to be involved with the Department of Military Affairs.
  •  McKay Foundation bought 4,000 tickets to the Timberwolves Military Appreciation Day on 11/19.
  • Former Representative Severson is pushing to allow electronic ballots for people that are deployed, to allow them to vote via electronic.

Donna Meyer Hickle - VA Regional Office

  • Regional Office is 98 percent paperless, so files will be sent out via CD unless the veteran specifically says they need a paper copy.
  • They will be hosting a Town Hall in Rochester on 12/11, along with the Medical Center.
  • Pension Center Manager, Gary Chesterton, is leaving.  He will be assistant director in San Diego.
  • Kimberly Graves has been appointed as Director, tentatively reporting 12/8.

Dr. Steve Julius -Chief Medical Officer, VISN 23

  • Discussed the Veteran’s Choice Act, signed by the President August 7th, being implemented today.
  • Discussed the Ebola virus, training they are undergoing.

Andrew Frost - Business Office Manager, St. Cloud

  • Discussed cost sharing with the Veteran’s Choice Act.  There are some additional or different financial liability for veterans than they are used to through their traditional VA care, including the use of traditional VA care.
  • Highlighted the fact that there is a shortage of providers, they are trying to increase providers in rural communities, as St. Cloud is.  They have had quite a bit of success in hiring new providers, they have a net gain of 9 new providers.
  • October 27th dedicated and did ribbon cutting ceremony for expanded dental clinic.  They added 7 additional chairs, for a total of 18.
  • They did see a 2.2 percent increase in the number of veterans that they saw in 2014.
  • On 11/9, 1 p.m. we will have Veteran’s Day parade on their campus.  On 11/11 there will be a program with a speaker at 1:30.
  • Wind turbine in St. Cloud remains in same status.

Bob Braeser - Ft Snelling Cemetery

  • September:  458 Internments
    • 5,123 for total for year through September
    • 211,000 population
    • 8 female Veterans
    • By war periods:
      • 113  WW2 vets
      • 61 Korea vets
      • 84 Vietnam vets
      • 2  Persian Gulf vets
      • 26 Peace time
      • 173 Dependents
    • Memorial Rifle Squad performed 2,491 services for the year.

Frank Timm - Senator Klobuchar’s office

  • In August the Senator had a meeting with a number of the veteran’s groups, and went through a number of the issues.  They accumulated a list of to-dos including electronic claims processing, trying to get a handle on the delays.
  • The Senator was also in Fargo this last month.  Fargo has a VA that serves a lot of northwestern Minnesota veterans.   She was up there talking to women veterans, we have about 2 million female veterans in the United States, and about 25,000 live in Minnesota.
  • The Senator also wrote a letter to the new VA secretary asking for a delegation meeting.
  • Along with MACV they did a veteran’s staff tour, attempting to identify veterans in need of support. 

Chaz Johnson - 2nd District Representative - John Kline

  • Nomination packets were due 10/31, they will have 32 young men and women who will be applying for the US Service Academy.
  • They were successful in the election yesterday.

Connie Haddeland - 4th District Representative - Betty McCollum

  • Discussed their nomination packet process also.
  • This week Civil Air Patrol representatives in Minnesota went from congressional office to congressional office presenting their annual report to Congress.  Last spring congress passed the Civil Air Patrol gold medal for people that served during WW2 in the Civil Air Patrol and then entered the military.  Congressman Kline just recently presented a medal to a living individual, so Ms. Haddeland has information on the criteria to be considered for this.
  • The City of Little Canada is going to dedicate their Veteran’s Memorial on Veteran’s Day at 3:00.

Announcements -

  • Honor Flights
  • Saturday U of M facilitated the largest flyover, honoring a 103 year old U of M WW2 football player from 1931 and a lieutenant colonel in the Army Engineers.
  • At the Vikings game on the 23rd they have put together 6 T6s and two B25 bombers that will fly over with the military appreciation day.
  • Massage – KAI, veterans can get a 60 minute free massage there.  12162 Business Park Blvd, Champlin, 763-421-2999.

 Meeting in Recess for 10 minutes   

Business Meeting

Treasurer’s report

  • Total is: $4,433.92
    • Zero deposits
    • $37.19 dollars in parking
  • Total expenses $277.19
  • $4,276.73  is ending balance

Old Business:

  • MAG meeting, 25th, 10:00 in SOB building, room 300

Retiree bill, extending tax exemption for widows & widowers, business tax credit for hiring veterans.  Honor and Remember Flag, bill will be presented, discussion can be held in December.

Discussion of Omnibus bill.

New Business:

  • Elections next month.

Motion to adjourn.           
Next meeting 3 December, 2014