Meeting Minutes for September 2014

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Meeting Minutes - September 3, 2014

Call to order - 09:30, Invocation - Pledge of Allegiance -

Greetings: Recognition of visitors and guests -

Announcements - Ralph Donais, Chairman - Jerry Kyser, Vice Chairman.   

  • On 9/21 is POW/MIA Recognition Day
    • At 2 p.m. at UofM  TCF Stadium
  • Jerry Kyser being honored
  • Outstanding Women Veteran’s award nominations still open    

1. Federal Agencies
VA Regional Office - Ron Woolery

  • Without a Director right now- Antoine Waller officially took new job in Baltimore
    • Ms. Donna Myer Hickel is acting Director now
    • Ms. Kaye Anderson and Ms. Hickel will both be interim Assistant Directors
  • Town Hall: Every VA facility is required to conduct a “town hall meeting” open forum
    • At 10:30 on 9/12
  • VA status update: Reduced backlog from peak of 611,000 in March to 264,000
    • As of 8/25, have completed 1,136,000
    • 1.17 million last year- on pace to beat that significantly
    • Non-rating force has completed 2.5 million claims, more than has been completed in any year in the last 15 years
    • Increasing this year in 44% over best year ( which was 4 years ago)
    • 1 in 4 Veterans now submit dependency claims electronically through eBenefits
    • On average, they are receiving payments in 1-3 days
    • A lot of older Veterans do not have eBenefits or do not want to submit them electronically
    • Electronic claims use a system similar to a system used by turbo tax-expedites the process
    • Automating 21% of burials moving forward
    • Will result in automation of about 62,000 burials a year
    • Reduced Veterans pension inventory by 67%, and reduced backlog by 93%
    • Reduced  DIC claims by 58%, reduced backlog by 86%, improved timeliness by 80 days while maintaining a 90% accuracy rate

VISN 23 -Janet Murphy- Director VISN 23 - Christopher Stromberg

  • A few sites flagged in audit: remain open issues until more information given
  • A lot of changes to VA:
    • New Secretary named Robert McDonald , a West Point graduate and former Army Ranger, most well-known from being former COO of Proctor and Gamble
    • Working on a 90 day Transition Plan
  • Increasing outreach to Veterans in community, including Town Hall meeting
  • Bill Funding for Veteran’s Choice- supports Veteran’s choice to choose where they get care
    • Will have a Veteran’s Choice Card
    • Can use it if you cannot get care within 30 days or 40 miles from a VA facility
    • More money for additional staff - will take time to figure out where more staff is needed most

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

  • Suicide Prevention week is September 8th-12th
    • Staff is available to speak to Veterans and friends and families of Veterans
    • Will have handouts, wristbands, bumper stickers all emblazoned with helpline number
    • MN Military radio is planning a program on this topic on the 14th
  • Pain Awareness Day is 9/18 from 8-3 at Medical Center
    • Informational booths all day  on 2nd floor Atrium
    • Keynote at 11, 12, and 1 in Auditorium
    • Sessions on mindfulness, yoga, and Thai chi
    • Techniques to help Veterans manage pain
  • Audiologies suites in 3 CBOCs
    • Northwest Metro-9, Ramsey Clinic-3, Twin Parts-2, Maplewood-2
    • Anticipating 9-15% increase in productivity once booths underway are complete
  • Eye Clinic reservation will start this month
    • Project to take about a year
    • Will expand from 10 to 31 Eye Lanes

St Cloud VA HCS - Director Barry Bahl -  Trish Aljets

  • Very busy month for us
  • Saturday on 9/6 is 2nd Annual Rendezvous
    • Purpose is to bring Veterans and families friends to campus to see what we are all about
    • 40 different booths manned by service organizations and community partners
    • Kicks off with Suicide Awareness Walk, Stroll, and Roll at 9 am
    • Ends around 3:30 p.m.
    • Folks available to do enrollments
    • Tours of medical center
    • Stages with entertainment
    • Using this event to kick off 90th Anniversary of Medical Center
  • 9/8 is our Town Hall meeting
    • 5 p.m. in Auditorium
    • Please park in Lot just north of building 57 ( mental health building)
  • On 9/17 is 90th Anniversary Party
    • Building 92
    • Invitations have been sent out
    • Open to Public
  • Friday, 9/26 is annual celebration of Caregivers
    •  From 11-1 in Building 96
    • For caregivers, Veterans, and general public
    • Lot of resources available
  • Tuesday, 9/30th : Women Veterans Workshop
    • Will now be holding series of workshops
    • Topic this time is Stress and Relieving Stress
  • 11/9  is Annual Veterans Day Parade 
    • Come on up and join us
  • 10/1 and 10/2: Flu Clinics open
  • 4 new providers started within last few weeks
    • 6 more to come
  • New Psychiatry building: parking lot is in
    • Hope to be moving in within next couple of months
  • New walking path is open
  • Disc golf course is reopened open to public
  • Given money to select a design firm to help us design a Adult Day health building
  • Wind turbine is not working
    • Quite a bit in media lately
    • Discussions continue with contractor
    • Hoping to reach resolution soon

Question: Parade kicks off at 1 pm. Line up is at 11:30 if you want to participate. Give me a call if you would like to register to participate

    Ft Snelling Cemetery - Robert Roeser

  • New Director: John G. Knapp from Camp Smith in Hawaii
    • Will come to next meeting to introduce himself
    • Marine Officer/Colonel
  • June: 598 services
    • 135 WWII
    • 73 Korea
    • 101 Vietnam
    • 5 Persian
    • 23 Peacetime
    • 0 Active Duty
    • 230 Dependents
    • Breakdown :
    • 145 Army
    • 83 Navy
    • 38 Airforce
    • 12 Marines
    • 3 Coast Guards
    • 3 Merchant Marines
    • 7 Female Veterans
  • July:  566 services
    • 133 WWII
    •  81 Korea
    •  81 Vietnam
    •  7 Persian
    • 22 Peacetime
    •  1 Active Duty
    •  241 Dependents
    • Breakdown :
    •  142 Army
    •  81 Navy
    •  28 Air force
    •  20 Marines
    •  3 Coast Guards
    •  0 Merchant Marines
  • Year to Date Rifle Squads Performed: 2,007
  • Total Graves/Remains we care for: 210,236
  • Will bring August numbers to next meeting

Vets Employment & Training Service [VETS] -  Davis Seay

  • Congratulate MACV on success of their stand downs
    • Exciting to see record numbers
    • MACV in Mankato was recently awarded another HVRP grant
    • Get to visit them in second quarter to do a meet and greet
  • Jobs for Veterans Day Grant 5 year plan was approved, with an additional funding
    • Salary grant so translates into more positions
    • Staff the local Veteran Employment Representatives for Employer Outreach
  • USARA claims and Veteran preference claims:
    • Cases have remained consistent over the last few months
    • 2 claims granted, 1 settlement, the rest are still in process

2Federal Congressional Representatives and Senators

 Senator Amy Klobuchar- Greg Swanholm

  • Big news is Veterans Access to Care through Choice Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014
    • Senator was proud to support this act
  • Greg Swanholm  will be taking a step back from constituent’s service work
    • Eller Hendrickson, Intern, will be taking over
    • Introduces himself: Army Veteran, member of American Legion, VFW, AUSA, and Quad A
    • From Northfield, MN
    • Went to Gustavus college
    • Deployed twice to Iraq and Afghanistan
    • Passionate about working with Veterans

Senator Al Franken- Nicole Ly

  • Busy last few months
  • In July, she attended an Army Reserve Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Event
    • Thanks Colonel Beechum for setting that up
  • Held two meetings, with Congressmen Walz, regarding Suicide Prevention
    • With various Veterans organizations and families affected
  • Met with General Nash
    • Attended kickoff to building of solar panel field at Camp Ripley
  • Alex Schuler is joining us as Constituent Service Representative
  • Acknowledge Kathy and rest of MACV staff for fantastic stand down
  • Primarily focusing on Service Academy nomination program for September
  • Alex Schuler
    • Background: Marine Corps Veteran
    • 2 tours to Iraq
    • Out in 2009
    • Degree in Political Science at UofM
    • Worked for Habitat for Humanity
      • In Veteran Outreach at the moment

2nd District Representative - John Kline - Chaz Johnson

  • Service Academy information session
    • Will be 9/22 at Burnsville Diamond Head Education Center
  • Congressmen Kline will be sitting down with Pentagon and DoD to discuss Middle East

3rd District Representative -Eric Paulson - John Paul Yates Not in attendance

4th District Representative - Betty McCollum - Connie Haddeland

  • Shout out to Guard this morning
  • Just came from Congressional Staff Briefing on status and plans lacking for C130 fleets and Cyber Security issues - valuable meeting
  • Ben has been filling in for me, grateful for Ben’s abilities to cover
  • August has been month of National Guard
  • Breaking ground new readiness center and joined facility in Stillwater
  • Went to AHATS in Arden Hills
  • Yesterday spent at Roseville Armory
  • Congresswoman has signed on to a letter to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs:
    • Speaks to certifications for provider agreements for extended care agreements for services such as hospice and palliative care
    • Current rules require all small providers to meet criteria of federal contractors
    • This rule would allow all those small providers to meet the criteria similar to Medicaid and Medicare and bypass the rules applicable to federal contractors
    • Would allow for more options for our aging Veteran population
  • Will be participating in Service Academy evening, sponsored by Congressmen Paulson,  in Bloomington on 9/16
  • Our Service Academy process is underway- already have a few applications

5th District Representative - Keith Ellison - Mike Siebenaler Not in attendance

6th District Representation - Michele Bachmann- Nicole Pelzer

  • Academy Night will be on 9/16
    • At Ramsey Government center in Anoka

7th District Representative - Collin Peterson - Meg Louwagie

  • Busy in community during August Recess
  • City of Redwood Falls joined as a Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Cities
    • Will continue to support those efforts in Congress

8th District Representative - Rick Nolan-  Rick Olseen

  • Very busy during recess- Honorary Chair of Duluth Airshow
  • At Solar Panel groundbreaking at Camp Ripley
  • Congressman believes the President should come to Congress with everything that is going on in the world ( like ISIS)
  • Introducing a bill called Restoring Democracy Act
    •  restoring 5 day work week for Congress
  • Veterans Bill- will be helpful for our constituents in rural areas
  • C130s: Interesting to learn they are so old
    • Interesting to see the funding to restore this workhorse of the Air National Guard

1st District Representative - Tim Walz -Shawn Schoesser

  • Congratulating Jerry on his Veterans Voices Award
  • From our Office, Dave Wenzel, has received the Veterans Voices for Veterans on the Rise
    • For his work with college students and Veterans, and advocacy in the community
  • Condolences for Mark Madison and Julie Bailey
  • Congressman was selected by MOAA for an award for his leadership( The Matrix Award)
  • Selected as conferee on bipartisan issues on Senate bill and House bill ( bill we are talking about today)
  • Congressman introduced the Clayhunt for Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act
    • Helps prevent suicide by not recognizing Era or Age
    • Requires independent third party to evaluate DoD and Veterans affairs mental health programs
    • Looking at metrics to establish best practices
    • Forms strategic partnership with Reserves, National Guard, and Veterans Affairs at State level
    • Establish pilot programs for VA providers working in mental health areas
    • Will help supplement education for  Veterans looking to study mental health professions

3.  State Agencies and MN Veteran Assistance Organizations

 MN Dept. of Veteran Affairs - Anna Long

  • Record attendance at State Fair
  • Bridge on Minneapolis Veterans home campus is closed during inspection process
    • Closed through October, more information available
  • Gold Star family retreat coming up
    • 1st weekend of October
  • Planning for Veterans Day
    • Tuesday, 11/11
    • Inver Grove Heights
    • Breakfast 8:30-9:30
    • Programs start at 10:00
  • Partnering with Twin Cities Public Television on documentary about women Veterans
    • Looking to find a currently serving female Veterans to serve as host
    • More information coming
  • New Hire: Eric Gromdall
    • Title: Special Advisor on Indian Veteran Homelessness
    • MN looking to end Veteran homelessness by 2015
    • Ensuring resources and places available to all Veterans
    • Working closely with interagency coalition
    • Open House farewell for Reggie- information coming soon

MN Military Affairs - COL Sandy Best-  Yellow Ribbon - Annette Kyper

  • Welcome to Lt. Colonel Joe Sharky
  • Brigadier General Llyodalt has been promoted to Major General
  • New Deputy Assistant Adjutant General for Air Side: Colon Dave Hamler
  • General Nash, Don Kerr, and several leaders attended National Conference of State Legislators Summit
    • Army Compatible Use Buffer Initiative
    • Funding: want to use MN’s model as a National Model
    • Spoke about MN’s Yellow Ribbon program
  • On 8/22, had a joint groundbreaking in Stillwater
  • On 8/26 many made it out to the State Fair for Veteran Appreciation Day
  • 8/27 was exciting day at Camp Ripley for the MN National Guard/ MN Power Ceremony
  • Honorable Hammock , Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Army, came in to award the DoD Environmental Team award to Camp Ripley for sustainable efforts
  • Discussed how privileged we are in MN to have a supportive Congressional delegation and their staff
  • Talked about providing Red Units and the C130H, and the need to modernize those aircraft
    • Proud to report great synchronization throughout Reserve, Guard, and Active Duty
  • Talked about our Cyber Response strategy
  • Don Kerr will be leading a group of State legislators members staff at Camp Ripley tomorrow
    • 3rd part in a series to help education them about the National Guard
  • On 9/13: a Departure Ceremony for Cottage Grove based 204th  Medical Company
    • 43 soldiers Deploying to Egypt
  • 9/15: Welcoming home 140 soldiers returning home from Afghanistan
    •   114th Transportation Company  returning home
  • National Guard Bureau has identified a budget shortfall
    • 101 million dollars shortfall
    • Not caused by state of MN, but all states will be affected
    • MN has 3 million dollar piece we need to shift and figure out how to handle
  • Readiness Center Transformation Master Plan
    • Study on aging facilities in MN
    • 64 Armory locations in 63 communities
    • This information will be included in report that goes to Congress in December
    • Looking at consolidations in communities
    • Will be sharing will state stakeholders before sharing in December

Annette Kyper:

  • Taking Beyond Yellow Ribbon program nationally
  • 3 days in Alaska next week
  • North Dakota visited us to learn how to bring this to their state, as well
  • 2 more proclamations since we last met
    • Brings total up to 40
    • McGeoff Construction and SuperAmerica (Northern Tier Energy)
    • Red Wood Falls has been named a YR city
    • McCloud county has been named a YR county
    • Fulfills our goal of having a YR network for all of our Army/Air Base communities
    • New communities interested in joining the YRN
  • St. Michael/Albertville has their YRN kickoff party next week
    • 9/18 at 6:30 p.m. at Albertville City Hall
    • Will train the community for 9-12 with information and support
  • Saturday, 10/18, at 9 a.m. at Star Fire Events Center
    • Beginning process of forming YRN for Waseca county
  • Just completed a refreshed list of all YRN point of contacts, will be sending to Ralph
  • 212 cities, 25 counties, and 40 companies that have been proclaimed YR
    • About 94 networks from the cities and counties
  • Please connect with your local YRN to help Veterans

MN Assistance Council for Veterans (MACV)- Kathy Vitalis

  • Our stand downs have already been mentioned
    • Ended up seeing over 1,000 Veterans
    • Often asked "Are they ALL homeless?"
    • About 30-40% were by definition homeless
    • The rest were having some sort of crisis, like an eviction notice, and needed help
    • Part of our homelessness prevention services
  • Also had wonderful events in Virginia and Duluth
    • Congressman Nolan spoke in Duluth
    • In Virginia,
  • Other Stand downs coming up
    • Bemidji is 9/24
    • Grand Rapids on 9/25
  • Legal Clinics coming up
    • Minneapolis 9/9
    • St. Cloud 9/23
  • Annual Fundraising Dinner is soon
    • Tickets are $50
    • Friday, 9/19
    • Silent Auction
    • Begins at 6, Dinner at 7
    • At Landmark Events Center
    • 11501 Masonic Home Drive, Bloomington
    • All info on Website 
    • Doran Hocker one of two Veterans chosen by the FLOTUS as one of the stories to share when she announced the mayoral campaign to end homelessness
      • He will be speaker at Dinner, sharing his tale of homelessness
  • Chris Hinton, is also a Veterans Voice award winner
  • Alex Schuler is also a Veterans Voice award winner
  • Jimmy Collier was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the St. Paul Area Coalition for the Homelessness
  • Will be having a premiere to view the Twin Cities public television documentary showcasing the stories of 3 veterans overcoming homelessness
  • Story about Virginia stand down: was asked "why are you standing on a stove?" when told she was standing on the Iron Range on a conference call

Military Action Group (MAG) -  Jerry Kyser

  • Putting together for ideas going forward to next year
  • MAG is an opportunity for organizations to put forward proposals to legislators
  • Next meeting with me 11/25, after the election
  • Trying to get more businesses certified as Veteran Owned Businesses( VOB) without going through Federal certification
  • Want more VOB working on the Vikings Stadium
  • Department of Veteran Affairs is working on a process where they can help verify who is a VOB
    • Women and minorities have a process through which they can get verified, the military needs one too
    • Hopefully, we can then get some money from the state to fund this process
  • 9/11 and 11/11 are important dates before then
  • Flyers up here: for the 21st at 2.p.m listening to retired Lt. Commander Bill Carl about being a POW
  • Applications for Women’s Veterans program here( if you want it electronically, we can send it to you)

  4.  Announcements -

  • About 3 weeks ago, a Veteran asked if there were any golf courses willing to donate a bucket of balls to a Veterans returning home and having difficulty readjusting to civilian life
    • Went to golf course in Fridley, they said absolutely! The golf pro even offered a free lesson.
    • Said to contact them to set it up
  • Jim Fisher, new president of VBA State Council, our office will be closed for a while to help say goodbye to Julie Bailey, a longtime employee.
  • Dan Murphy, with the Air Force Association, our month chapter meeting will be held at Rail Station this month ( meetings are the second Tuesday of every month)
  • On Saturday night, we have our Commemorative Air Force fall party. $15 for tickets. Roseville Orchestra, B25 jets, a lot of fun!
  • MN Women Veterans giving thanks to and applauding Jerry Kyser for winning award
    • Going to D.C.  to fight for an Equal Rights Amendment to protect women Veterans

  5.  Meeting in Recess for 10 minutes 

  • Beginning balance was $4,846.25
    • 0 deposits
    • $355.14 worth of expenses
    • $4,471.11 as of 9/1
    • Motion made and accepted
  • Old Business: None
  • New Business:
  • The 25th  is next MAG meeting: anything to bring up?
    • No vote taken at MAG
    • Talked retiree pension, business tax credit for hiring Veterans at last meeting
    • Tax credit was pushed out to 8 years for widows, want it to be permanent until status change
  • Younger generation is not coming back to MN 
  • Nothing that had anything to do with money for Veterans was passed this year
  • Need people at meetings!
  • Pro-bono lawyer can change our classification so we can say we lobby instead of advise

UVLC Treasurer’s Report as of 1 September, 2014
Balance as of 1 Aug 2014: $4,826.25  
Deposits for Aug, 2014: $0.00
Expenses for Aug, 2014:
      Supplies (printer cartridge): $10.70
Parking Expense: $37.19
Printing Expense: $187.25
Transcription Expense: $120.00
(Total of $355.14)   
Balance as of 1 Sept, 2014
Submitted by Donald Rask, Treasurer UVLC                  
Next meeting 1 October, 2014