March 2019 Maine Veterans Coordinating Committee Meeting.docx

7 March 2019

MVCC meeting tonight, minutes for last meeting is in attachments.   Kelley

From:  Brenda Pennels

Subject:  Notes from 4 March 2019 Meeting

ROLL CALL:

Officers:

Chair – Gary Laweryson – Present

1st Chair Kelley Wynne – Excused

2nd Chari David Patch – Present

Secretary – Vacant  (Brenda Pennels – Acting )

Treasurer – Kevin Woodward – excused

VSOs

AMVETS (2)

MCL (1)

VFW (1)

VFWA (0)

MCVC ( 1)

MOAA (1)

DAV (0)

Meeting started with Pledge of Allegiance and Moment of Silence.

Treasurer’s Report:  In the absence of the Treasurer, the Treasure’s Report from February will stand. 

(February: A verbal Treasurers Report was provided:  Checking balance $4656.85.  4 CD’s totaling $6122.14.  Grand total:  $10,778.99.  A motion made and seconded to approve.  Motion passed.)

Reports: 

#1 Senator Susan Collins’ Office – Chuck Maherlais

  • Chuck is available for veterans to help with their records requests, help track down family history or if veterans or family members have other challenges with the federal government such as IRS or passports or social security.
  • James posed a question about a Merchant Marine Vietnam Era veteran.  Chuck will address. 

#2 Veterans Administration – Jim Doherty for Amy Gartley

  • Mission Act proposals for average drive time/appt wait times:  For primary, mental health, and noninstitutional extended care services: 30-minute average drive time, or appointment wait time of 20 days. For specialty care: 60-minute average drive time, or appointment wait time of 28 days.
  • The VA will be producing educational brochures, talking points etc. 
  • Veterans will be allowed to access Urgent Care Clinics.  # of visits still being worked out. 
  • Mission Act goes into effect June 6th.  Additional town halls will be scheduled. 
  • Discussion about what constitutes “Emergency” and “Urgent” care.  Following a physician’s advice to “get checked out” does not constitute authorization for payment by the VA. 
  • Provided handouts on the MISSION ACT (Overview of Key Elements), Suicide Prevention in VISN 1, LGBTQ Support group and Transgender Support Group. 
  • Construction still underway – some departments are moving.
  • CBOC utilization has increased from 30% of Veterans to 70% that get care at CBOC. 
  • Fisher House project going well and ontrack for September 2019. 
  • New signage and wayfinding instructions with detailed symbols will be added. 
  • New Center Director has been chosen, waiting on official announcement. 
  • March 28th – Vietnam War 50th Anniversary with focus on 1969.  VA Theatre at 1000 hours. 
  • Reception at the State House from 1-4 on the 29th will veterans will receive commemorative pins. 
  • Question about CBOC in Caribou.  It’s going to be awhile.  There will be a 25% increase in footprint.  RFP has gone out.  RFP for Portland – all the paperwork has been returned. 

#3 Senator Angus King’s Office – Teague Morris

·         Reminded the committee that the Senator’s doors are open for comments, questions etc.  

  • Senator King Co-sponsoring Senate Bill 576 S. 576 – A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for a presumption of herbicide exposure for certain veterans who served in Korea, and for other purposes. 
  • Senator King Co-Sponsoring Senate Bill 555 – Mark Takai Atomic Veterans Healthcare Parity Act of 2019  S. 555 – A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for the treatment of veterans who participated in the cleanup of Enewetak Atoll as radiation exposed veterans for purposes of the presumption of service-connection of certain disabilities by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes. 
  • Shared Message from Debbie J. Kelly, Maine Director, Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) :     The Secretary of Labor has recently identified Vietnam-era Veterans as an additional population to be served by the Jobs for Veterans State Grant (JVSG). The Bureau of Labor Statistics and the VA data indicate that there are still a sizeable number of Vietnam-era Veterans in the workforce, and many face difficulty in finding and maintaining employment. As a result of this new guidance from USDOL VETS, Vietnam-era Veterans can now be served by specified JVSG staff at the Maine Career Centers.
  • Shared Message from Jade Graczyk, Veterans Representative at the Portland Career Center, about An Act to Expedite Health Care Employment for Military Veterans:  This program is assisting any veteran that served in the medical corps of any branch of the Armed Forces of the United States to expedite employment in the field of healthcare and develop and pathway to career advancement. 

#4 Veterans Benefits Administration – Julie Carie

  • Outreach Claims clinics can be found on the VBA web site
  • 2nd Tuesday of the Month, 9 am, Walk in Clinic @ VA CBOC, 655 Main ST, Saco, ME
  • 3rd Wednesday of the Month, 9 am, Walk in Clinic @ VA CBOC 15 Challenger DR, Lewiston, ME
  • 4th Thursday of the Month, 9 am, Walk in Clinic @VA CBOC 144 Fore St, Portland, ME
  • Tuesday March 5th, Midcoast Veterans Resource Center, Brunswick 8:30-3:00
  • Thursday March 14th, Bread of Life, Augusta, ME 2:00-4:00 pm
  • Tuesday March 19th, Midcoast Veterans Resource Center, Brunswick 8:30-3:0033
  • MMCN Meetings
    • 6 March 10AM Kennebec
    • 12 March 3PM MCVC
    • 21 March 1PM Somerset Cty
    • 27 March 1 PM L/A
    • 1 April 4:30PM Portland
  • Guidance from VBA HQ to the regional office relative to Blue Water Claims…”don’t do anything with them.”  But, veterans who think they would fit that criteria should make claims now and not wait.
  • Any hearing loss that might be attributed to the ear plugs manufactured by 3-M should be handled as any other claim
  • The GI Bill will have a new contractor, but nothing known about that at this time

#5 Congresswoman Chellie Pingree – Omar Andrews

  • H.R.1092 – Servicemembers and Veterans Empowerment and Support Act of 2019, a bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to expand health care and benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs for military sexual trauma.

·         Co-Sponsoring  H.R.601 – Medical Cannabis Research Act of 2019: To increase the number of manufacturers registered under the Controlled Substances Act to manufacture cannabis for legitimate research purposes, to authorize health care providers of the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide recommendations to veterans regarding participation in federally approved cannabis clinical trials.

·         Supporting H.R. 333 – Disabled Veterans Tax Termination Act:  A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to permit retired members of the Armed Forces who have a service-connected disability rated less than 50 percent to receive concurrent payment of both retired pay and veterans’ disability compensation, to extend eligibility for concurrent receipt to chapter 61 disability retirees with less than 20 years of service.

#6 Maine Veterans Home – Devon Robinson, Marketing and Public Relations Director

  • Colonel Kash on vacation
  • Provided additional calendars (Jim Doherty took a bunch for outreach)
  • New Veteran Home groundbreaking will be Thursday 4/18.  Secretary Wilke will attend. 

#7 Congressman Jared Golden – No one Present

#8 Maine Bureau of Veterans Services – Dave Richmond Acting Director

  • Dave attended the NASDVA (National Association of State Directors of VA) in the Washington DC area.
  • On Tuesday, February 26, the Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services (MBVS) received the 2019 Abraham Lincoln Pillar of Excellence Award from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for its work to end Veteran homelessness. This is the Bureau’s second consecutive Pillar of Excellence Award, having been recognized previously for its Veteran suicide prevention efforts in 2018.
  • Proposals for the Maine Veteran Emergency Fund program have been received.  A quick decision committee has been formed.  Awards should be made soon.
  • Sarah Sherman will be heading up the disabled veterans moose hunt for 2019.
  • The Retired Activities Office for Veterans will be holding a conference in Concord, NH on September 19, 2019 for those interested
  • The Aid-de-Camp proposal for the Governor’s office is slowly moving forward and there will be information and selection criteria posted in the near future.

New Business –

  • David Patch reported that American Legion Post 36 in Boothbay will be hosting a VA seminar on 8 June at their Legion Hall.  VBA, VHA, MBVS, MVHs, Martins Point and others will be attending.
  • Chuck Maherlais reported on the Eagle Scout cemetery restoration project involving over 6000 volunteer hours
  • Jim Doherty informed the committee of a new not-to-miss documentary on WWI “They Shall Not Grow Old”.

Next Meeting

1 April 2019, 6pm, MVHS, 460 Civic Center Drive, Augusta

Post expires at 2:40pm on Friday April 5th, 2019

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