Meeting Minutes for October 2014

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Meeting Minutes - October 1, 2014

  • Call to order - 09:30, Invocation - Pledge of Allegiance -
  • Greetings: Recognition of visitors and guests -
  • Announcements - Ralph Donais, Chairman - Jerry Kyser, Vice Chairman.
  • Introduced John Knatt Director of Fort Snelling Cemetery

1Federal Congressional Representatives and Senators

4th District Representative - Betty McCollum - Connie Haddeland

  • Deadline for Service Academy coming up soon
  • Very successful event in Bloomington a few weeks ago
  • Congresswoman has signed on to a letter to Social Security Administration asking that they expedited decisions for totally disabled  Veterans
  • Also signed on to Atomic Veterans Service Medal Veterans Act: HR:4778
    • In House sub committee
  • It is campaign time!

6th District Representation - Michele Bachmann - Nicole Pelzer

  • Cosponsor on HR:318 to authorize private funds to be raised to create a wall of Remembrance at the Korean War Memorial
  • Also met withVFW Legislative Chairman Tom McLaughlin
  • Signed on to letter in regards to VA Secretary that Connie just mentioned
  • Thanks to Senator Franken’s office in regards to Military Academy
    • Two people will be applying

Senator Al Franken - Alex Schueller

  • Continuing to press hard to get to the bottom of VA scheduling issue
  • Working on Suicide Prevention Legislation in the Senate to complement Congressmen Walz’s efforts
  • Would love to hear feedback on the Veterans Choice Act
  • 9/13: Did Deployment Ceremony with 214th Area Medical Support Company headed to Africa
  • Al town hall meetings across state were attended  by Congressmen or staff
  • Two Academy Service nights with Congresswomen Bachman and Kline
  • Participated in events honoring 22 Veterans in  Apple Valley
  • Participated in recent conference call with Director Kelly from VA
  • Participate in Deployment Ceremony with Air Force Reserve

8th District Representative - Rick Nolan -  Rick Olseen

  • Congressman’s staff have attended two stand downs up north
  • About 80 Congressional and Legislative staff congregated in Annapolis to discuss Academy Recruitment

2nd District Representative - John Kline - Chaz Johnson

  • Service Academy Information Session was on 9/22: Appreciated turnout
    • Also had a Coast Guard Rep, had about 45 kids in attendance
  • Signed on to HR:5059- Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act
    • HR:5441 VA Chapter Update
  • Met with Legislature Director for VFW
  • Proud to support continuing resolution for a key provision for the VA
    • Provided for additional 59 million dollars for funding
    • 5 million additional was for the Inspector General
    • 2.3 Million dollars in additional funding for accountability cases
  • Supported the Annual Cost of Living Adjustment

2. State Agencies and MN Veteran Assistance Organizations
MN Military Affairs - LTC Joseph Sharkey

  • Leadership Changes: On 9/27, Change of responsibility
  • New Command Star Major: Doug Werthom
    • More than 26 years of service in MN National Guard
    • Fully time employee in Dept. Military Affairs
    • Veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom
  • 10/6: Honoring Col. Dirk Klauss  as becomes Brigadier General
  • 10/6: 21  Airmen from the 210th Engineer Insulation Squadron will depart for 6 month deployment
  • 10/21: 11 a.m. National Guard Association of United States will be honoring Congressmen Walz with Charles Digg Medal of Merit at Faribault Armory
  • 10/25: Welcome Home Ceremony at Chism High School for 114th Transportation Company from yearlong deployment from Afghanistan
  • Twin Cities Public TV will begin airing "Through a Soldier’s Eyes" following a soldier through Italy
  • 11/2: Brigadier General David Hammler and Reps. From MN Dept. of Veteran Affairs will be honoring  Dr. Georgopolis( has made great strides relating to PTSD) at Hellenic Post 129 at 6 p.m. for  59th Annual Anniversary Event
  • Legislative updates: Military Funeral Honor budget has been significantly reduced
    • Will greatly reduce the number of funerals the MN National Guard the can support
    • In conjunction with  the MN Dept. Of VA Affairs, will be exploring the annual number of funerals that can be supported, to potentially explore other organizations providing services
  • Beyond the Yellow Ribbon:
    • On 10/18, in Waseka county
    • On 11/17 in Big Lake
    • On 11/10, there will be proclaiming MN Southwest State University in Marshall
    • On 10/15, Wells Fargo will be hosting a YRC conference to receive updates on initiatives, discuss best practices and recognition
      • Major General Nash and Honorable Mark Richie will be presenting awards to two Wells Fargo Veterans

MN Assistance Council for Veterans (MACV) - Kathy Vitalis

  • Stand downs: Successful ones in Grand Rapids and Bemidji
  • Still to come are Mankato on 11/12, and on 10/14 in Marshall
  • Legal Clinics at VA in Minneapolis on 10/7, Fergus Falls on 10/21, Rochester on 10/23, and Anoka on 10/30
  • Twin Cities public TV got a grant for “Crossing the Threshold” about homeless and in crisis Veterans ( airing in November)
    • About MACV
  • Fundraising dinner extremely successful- thank you everyone!
  • Cold season is upon us; donate winter gear to us please
  • Building 47 is the Metro Holiday House on 12/5
    • Always the first Friday in December
  • Veterans and their Family Act through the VA three years ago
    • Rental, utility, and crisis assistance
    • In February, the VA did another RFP
    • Provided for second grant that just looked at that community
    • Now have two grants: great news for  Hennepin and the rest of the state
    • New services upcoming -St. Stevens in going to hire 2 new street outreach staff focused on Veterans
    • 3 years for this grant ( one time funding is called a surge grant)
    • Discussion of housing needs in different areas
    • Define your needs before you delegate spaces

Military Action Group (MAG) -  Jerry Kyser

  • Meeting on Friday- not what we had anticipated
    • Want to get the equity program involved
    • Alex Tittle with the Sports Authority is on our side
    • Women and Minorities have a percentage of the workers
    • Only 1%  of business are VA owned, and only 5% of  workers are Veterans
    • Seem more concerned with hiring women and minorities
    • We don’t want more than women and minorities, we just want to be on an even playing field
    • 11/25: Next MAG meeting to discuss
    • MN Dept. of Veteran Affairs- law got passed to certify Veteran owned businesses, but no money was allocated for it

3. Federal Agencies

VA Regional Office - Ron Wooley

  • Still no new Director
    • Still Ms. Donna Meyer Hickle is interim Director
  • Will have a Town Hall meeting quarterly
    • Possibly move them around to different locations each quarter
  • Moving into a "National Work Queue": when a Veteran submits a claim, it goes into a national list
    • If the home state has the ability to work the claim, it will do it
    • If not, the claims will be distributed on a first in-first out basis to other  states
    • Will happen next calendar year

VISN 23 - Janet Murphy - Director

  • Recent news articles about what is happening at Minneapolis
    • Taken seriously, cooperating with investigation
  • Had a very good 2014 budget year, closed yesterday
  • 2015 is shaping up to be  good budget year, as well
  • Big push is going to be Hepatitis C
    • Encourage Veterans to get tested, and get the new safer treatments available
  • Have set aside $15 million for hepatitis C treatment for 2015
  • IF we reach our goal to treat all Veterans with liver disease, we would need $30 million
    • Asked central office to reallocate funds for these purposes
    • Comment about treating Lyme Disease as well
    • Act also provided for additional caretakers, especially for specialty areas
    • Also funding for capital projects related to the Veterans Choice Act ( $9 million to St. Cloud and $15 million to Minneapolis)
    • Would like follow up for Classified Status Veterans ( because Top Secret Clearances result in Veterans being resistant to open up for treatment)

Mpls VA HCS - Director Patrick J Kelly - Ralph Heusser

  • Single Resident Only clarification:2 buildings with 150 units, contract requires 51% occupied by Veterans
    • Leasing agent said 75% of existing units occupied by Veterans
    • On 8/6, the public hearing held no public opposition to move forward with a new facility
  • Follow up on Town Hall forum: We will be similarly holding quarterly meetings
    • Will be following up all 36 questions received on 9/12
    • Two questions were related to major renovations in the flag atrium
      • How much did we spend on it? ( Which was $1,025,000)
      • Purpose was not for looks; it was to make the entry area more customer friendly to Veterans
      • More services are now centralized, plus also incorporated double door system
    • Have not had a significant price of increase of canteen food in 3 years, so that is why it increased
  • Minneapolis has a model Chronic Pain program
    • The National Institute of Health announced 13 major studies looking at complementary and alternative studies for pain treatment
    • 2 of the 13 studies coming to Minneapolis
    • 1 of them is a result of the collaboration of the MN National Guard and the Minneapolis VA since 2005 RINGS study
      • Will analyze these soldiers’ perceptions of treatment
    • 2nd study is: Collaborating with the Palmer College of Chiropractic medicine in Davenport, Iowa
    • Grant to look at how chiropractic care is integrated into total health care
      • How does chiropractic care enhance their health care?
  • Have about 6,000 female Veterans now
  • Because of their growing needs and demands, we are opening the Women’s Imagine Suite
    • On 10/17: Open house
    • Part of new integrative women’s health care program
    • Ultrasound, radiology, a diagnostic laboratory adjacent to the clinic
    • All female health care is done on site on the same day
    • Exams, diagnoses, surgery, and plastic surgery all available
    • Separate entrance in the back, as well
  • New Vet Center in Duluth in Hanes road ( staff of 7)
  • Flu shots are here: will be sending out communication about where available
    • 3 day walk in clinic from 10/29-10/31 in Medical Center
  • Comment about parking ramp: contractor working on it, should be done in a few weeks
    • Reminder: Parking is for Veterans only during the day

St Cloud VA HCS - Director Barry Bahl -Sharon Meschke

  • Construction Updates
    • Community Living Center cottages: both are up for design right now
    • Challenges with the Adult Day Health Care center in St. Cloud
      • Electronic waitlist ( have been offered non-VA care, most prefer to wait)
    • Minor project for more space for Adult Day care
    • Dental Construction project completed
    • 10/27 at 11 a.m. ribbon cutting ceremony
  • Recruitment for Primary care continues to be a struggle
  • HR Office conducted a navigating VA careers seminar
    • Will continue to provide
  • 10/17: Annual pheasant dinner for hospitalized veterans
    • Hosted by American Legion and VFW
  • 10/27 Dental clinic expansion ribbon cutting
  • 11/9: Veterans Day Parade
  • 11/11: Annual Veterans Day Program at 1:30 in Building 8
  • Access challenge with Adult Day Health Care
  • Home based primary care in Alexandra challenging to staff

Ft Snelling Cemetery - Robert Koeser

  • 469 Internments  in August
    • 4, 465 for total for year through August
    • 210,705 population
    • 7 female Veterans: 1,803 total
    • 234 Honors
      • 115 Army
      • 65 Navy
      • 35 Marine Corps
      • 18 Coast Guard
      • 1 Merchant marine
      • Total of 1,155 for year
  • Getting winter graves set for the cold season
  • About 65 percent cremations right now

4.           Announcements -
- Honor flight on 10/11
-Unfortunately, almost half came off the list ( passed away or needed to change flights)
            - Received a check from a Veteran’s family after he passed away, because he was so excited he got accepted to go
- Two more flights in the spring

5.      Meeting in Recess for 10 minutes   
-Total is: $4,471.92
-Zero deposits
-$39 dollars from parking
-$4, 433.92   is ending balance
-Comment: Thank you for continuing with the parking   
-Ralph said when he turns in his mileage statement that is when he can get paid
-Need to update roster- give numbers to Mike
-Need to start working on bills for next session, focusing on Veteran owned business certification       
-Urges people to just come to meetings and get information!            
Next meeting 5 November, 2014