Meeting Minutes for May 2015

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Meeting Minutes - May 6, 2015

  • Call to order - 09:30, Invocation - Pledge of Allegiance -
  • Greetings: Recognition of visitors and guests -
    • Amy Ingalls - Rasmussen College
    • Ben Johnson -  with Mike McElhiney
    • Andrew Matthews - for Congressman Emmer

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

    • Two honor flights, one in April, one in May, they are both full.
    • Next MAG Meeting: 10 am Monday, April 13. Key Meeting

    Federal Congressional Representatives and Senators

    Tim Cossalter - Senator Klobuchar’s office

    • Veteran’s Access to Care Act, Senate 761, introduced about two weeks ago, allows Department of Health and Human Services and the VA to declare health professional shortage areas.
    • Veteran’s of Paramedics Transition Act, Senate 218, introduced earlier this year.
    • Co-Sponsor of Access to Community Care Act, Senate 207, adjusts the 40 mile requirement for Veteran’s Choice Act.
    • Chair of Democratic Steering and Outreach  Committee, hosted a meeting of national veteran organizational leaders.

    Corrina Marquez - 1st District Representative - Tim Walz

    • Participated in VA field hearing in Tomah, Wisconsin.
    • Introduced Honoring the  Military Retirees, HR 1384, granting full veteran status to members of the Guard and Reservists who have served 20 years but have not been called up for federal active duty.
    • Also introduced Quicker Veterans Benefit Delivery Act, HR 1331, would require the VA to accept private medical evidence during disability claims processes.

    Chaz Johnson - 2nd District Representative - John Kline

    • Keeping Faith with Tricare Prime Act, HR 15, introduced regarding movement in Tricare, being reintroduced. 
    • Also co-sponsor of HR 1384, just discussed.
    • HR 1532, Keeping Our Promises to Veterans Act, allows veterans 20 miles or more from VA facility.
    • HR 1338, Dignified Internment of Our Veteran’s Act, requires the study and report from Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs regarding the identification, claiming and interring the unclaimed remains of veterans.
    • Trying to get Arnold Hermstad the Legion of Merit Award.
    • National Defense Reauthorization Act is up again, end of April.
    • Congressman is traveling in the Middle East at this time.

    John Paul Yates - 3rd District Representative - Erik Paulsen

    • Also co-sponsor of Tricare Prime legislations.
    • Congressman is also traveling currently.
    • Later this month Congressman will be visiting students from 3rd district at Air Force Academy.

    Connie Hadlund - 4th District Representative - Betty McCollum

    • Handing out list of some of the bills Congresswoman is on.
    • Co-Sponsor in working on changing the approach of identification of Blue Water and Brown Water Navy Veterans in Vietnam.
    • April 14th their office will be hosting service academy information evening at Moundsview High School.

    Mike Siebenaler - 5th District Representative - Keith Ellison

    • Co-Sponsor of several pieces of legislation already mentioned.
    • Continue to work with Secretary of Defense office on trying to change the privatory lending practices happening outside of military installations.
    • Three people in Academy.

    Zack Freimark - 6th District Representative - Tom Emmer

    • 90 days into first term in office.
    • Congressman Emmer is involved with several pieces of legislation previously discussed.
    • This past Sunday was Vietnam Veteran’s Day in Minnesota.
    • Gave Bronze Star award to Private Calvin Prince, WW2 veteran.

    Meg Louwagie - 7th District Representative - Collin Peterson

    • We had two candidates for Academy that were offered full and qualified appointments, one to West Point and one to the Naval Academy.
    • Also co-sponsored bills discussed above.
    • Also co-sponsored HR 1247, Improving Veterans Access to Quality Care Act, trying to fast track the hiring of former military health care providers into the VA, and grants for the VA to authorize quick hiring of former Department of Defense medical professionals, and bring VA medical practice up to modern DOD practices and expanding the roles of the advanced nurses.
    • Also co-sponsored the legislation for the Nation POW/MIA Remembrance Act of 2015, that would honor our POW/MIAs by authorizing a placement of a commemorative chair on the grounds of the US capitol.

    State Agencies and MN Veteran Assistance Organizations:

    Ben Johnson - Legislative Office at the Minnesota Department of Veteran’s Affairs

    • HF 1942, Memorializing Congress and the President to provide funding for the Officer’s Club at Fort Snelling.
    • HF  146, Representative Dettmer’s Honor and Remember Flag designated as the official state symbol commitment to military service members who have lost their lives, passed on Thursday.
    • Veteran’s Preference Procedure was modified, HF 745, bill that authorizes veterans request for hearing for Veteran’s Preference, they can choose the body that will challenge the right for determination.
    • Senate HF 1455, Veteran’s Affairs Commission of Guardianship Program, internal program that the MN Dept of Veteran’s Affairs actively worked with through 2006, there was a change in Federal language and we have ceased doing that, so this was basically a deletion of the guardianship program through the MN Dept of Veteran’s Affairs.
    • Senate HF 1446, wanting to change the Hire a Veteran month, had in May, moved it to July.
    • HF 705, Congressionally Chartered Veteran’s Organization Property, reduce classification rate, tax rate for congressionally chartered veterans organizations, provides a class rate reduction from 1.5% percent to 1% for property of non-profit community service organizations, laid over.

    LTC Joseph Sharkey - Department of Military Affairs

    • This morning had a quarterly breakfast for congressional staff, provided 2014 annual report, main substance is on pages 15-26.   Page 28 outlines our state and federal legislative priorities for upcoming years.
    • This spring the 34th Combat Aviation Brigade will return, hoping to provide date for welcome home ceremony next month.

    Annette Kuyper - Director of Military Outreach for Department of Military Affairs

    • Proclaiming in the next few months the city of Montrose, city of Big Lake, and cities of St. Michael/Albertville as Yellow Ribbon communities.
    • May 6 proclaiming Hibbing Community College as  Yellow Ribbon company.
    • June 19th proclaiming Mayo Clinic as Yellow Ribbon company.
    • Held a Yellow Ribbon company seminar, twice a year we bring the Yellow Ribbon companies together, sharing best practices, build relationships and updating them on military initiatives that are happening.
    • We do a seminar called Leaders in Veteran Employment, opportunity to train front line HR personnel or hiring managers on the value of hiring a veteran, make sure they are plugged in to all our veteran employment initiatives.
    • Unique opportunity to update the YR program to Mrs. Grass,   General Frank Grass, head of National Guard Bureau, will be visiting on May 1st.
    • September 1st, military appreciation day at the state fair.
    • Obtained 2 Americore Vista volunteers to serve a year with the department, they will be starting April 29th. 

    Kathy Vitalis - MN Assistance Council for Veterans (MACV)

    • April is first standdown of the year in Brainerd, April 8th, Detroit Lakes on April 23rd.
    • Legal clinics in Minneapolis on the 14th and Fergus Falls on the 22nd.
    • National Coalition for Homeless Veterans conference in late May, Sarah Somerstrom has been asked to coordinate the entire legal track of seminars out there.
    • A forum has been created for those that receive multiple federal grants, for the grantees to be able to get together and talk about the challenges they have across the VA, Dept of Labor, HUD, on integrating these and making them work.  It’s a grantee led for grantee forum. 
    • A wonderful group of women is putting on a golf event at the Prestwick June 16th.  All women golfers, and all proceeds go to MACV temp restricted to our women veteran fund, 100% to fund.

     Jerry Kyser - Military Action Group (MAG)

    • We met on the 16th and discussed many of same that have already been discussed. 
    • 13 April is next MAG meeting.
    • Things not out of committee yet are reduction in taxes for retirees.

    Federal Agencies

    Ron Woolery - St. Paul Regional Office

    • Big news nationally, the VA backlog is now under 200,000 claims and continuing to go down.
    • Other news, the new Intent to File form and standardized forms that went into effect on March 24th.  VA is last federal agency to go to a standardized form to file for something.
    • Monday, in conjunction with the Minneapolis hospital we had a claims clinic, it was a town hall/claims clinic, and for the first time we were able to assist 21 veterans during that event.  They could walk in and file a claim right there on the spot.
    • Intend to hold the town halls quarterly, so next one will be sometime this summer.

    Patrick Kelly - VISN 23/VA HCS 

    • Left literature with VISN update for month of April.
    • Veteran’s Choice, trying to make sure they help the veterans understand how the program works, and making sure those that are interested in using the program are able to do so.  Classes will be offered online and in the medical center, first two classes will be the 21st of April and 15th of May.  Intent is to educate veterans on how to use the Choice program to their adventure.
    • As part of the Veteran’s Choice program we were given money to buy new staff, 70 staff, mostly providers in areas where there are access issues.  There were given dollars to the VA, to buy care, that process is underway.  There were also moneys given to the VA to improve facilities in order than when the Veteran’s Choice expires in 3 years that we are ready in the medical centers to take care of veterans by having improved our access.
    • Projects; this summer we are going to open 15 eye lanes, so going from 18 to 33 to eye lanes.  Optometry and eye exams in one of the areas we’ve had access issues.  Moving C&P to the Whipple building, hopefully September or earlier.  Also building a new pain management center over there.  Also issues with orthopedic service access, we are building what is referred to as orthopedic super clinic, increasing number of exam rooms, provider offices, the types of providers.  Audiology services is becoming an increasing need, so the Whipple building will open up several audio booths, allowing us to do more exams in the building.  Also opening a audio quick clinic, Monday through Friday, 8-11, same day appt, and walk-in.
    • Homeless meeting last week at the medical center.  Project is on schedule and moving along nicely.
    • Town hall meetings, much of the focus now is on medical.
    • HVAC visit yesterday, nice visit, included Veteran’s Choice program, women’s health, opioid safety and pain management issue, poly trauma center, veteran’s justice, construction project.
    • Senator Franken stopped by, presented Bob Michaelson his POW medal from WW2.

    Sharon Meschke - St. Cloud VA

    • Tomorrow going to Wright County for Veteran’s Transportation Service meeting, seeking input from veterans on transportation assets that the DAV has provided and what type of services we could use to get to St. Cloud and Minneapolis VA.
    • April 16th doing our volunteer recognition.   We have about 70,000 hours of service that volunteers contribute.
    • We are also focusing on National Health Care Decision’s Day, deals with advanced directives.
    • April 22nd, pain management workshop.  It does require pre-registration.
    • April is sexual assault awareness month, facility will be focusing on a clothesline project, April 28-May 1st, from 10 a.m. to two p.m. daily. 
    • Lots of construction going on.  Opened the Community Living Center, Building 49 west for the veteran’s, moved them in last week.  225 beds in St. Cloud, so receive a lot of referrals.  Building 115 site, also moving veterans into that right now.
    • Ongoing construction; new rehab building, kitchen, 49 east.  Also designing some additional community living center, cottages. 
    • Veteran’s Choice program, a lot of the same challenges Minneapolis is having.

    Bob Roeser -- Fort Snelling Cemetery

    • February/March:  626 Interments/total residency to 213,000.
          • 145 Army                      
          • 73 Navy
          • 29 Air Force
          • 22 Marine
          • 2 Coast Guard
          • 2 females

    ·    Rifle Squad performed 271 of services for February/March.
    ·   Memorial Day is right around the corner, theme is For the Remembrance of the Vietnam     Vets   50 year.

    • February interments:
        • 52 WW2
        • 36 Korean
        • 44 Vietnam
        • 1 Persian Golf
        • 11 Peace time
        • 136 Dependents

    Dave Seay -- Vets Employment & Training Service

    • MACV is one of the premier HPRP grants in our agency throughout the nation.
    • MACV has been selected by the Dept of Labor, along with just 11 other grantees throughout the country as primary locations for their research staff to better understand grantee program design and partnerships, participant flow, service delivery, data collection and best practices.
    • Our region was asked to provide 3 or 4 grantees within our region for a potential visit from the Secretary of Labor Perez.
    • Prime time for stand downs.  They are non competitive and it is first come first serve.  MACV is submitting for 4 stand downs. 

    Announcements -

    • One bill that will be heard on Monday, make it a permanent tax exemption for widows and widowers of people who are 100% disabled, to make property tax exemption permanent until they either remarry, pass away or sell the land.  Currently it is good for 8 years, trying to make permanent.
    • If you can volunteer 4 hours a month to volunteer at the Servicemen’s center at the airport, please visit website and let them know you want to volunteer!

     Meeting in Recess for 10 minutes   

    Business Meeting --

    Treasurer’s report, as of 1 March, 2015

    -Total is:                                                                   $4,394.04
    - Deposits -                                                             $   300.00
    - Parking                                  $    37.19
    - Transcription (Feb)           $  120.00
    - Total expenses                                                   $   157.19
    - Ending balance                                                   $4,536.85

    Treasurer’s report, as of 1 April, 2015

    -Total is:                                                                   $4,536.85
    - Deposits -                                                             $     50.00
    - Parking                                  $    37.19
    - Total expenses                                                   $     37.19
    - Ending balance                                                   $4,549.66


    Motion to adjourn.           
    Next meeting 6 May, 2015
    The June 3rd Meeting will be at VAMC St Cloud