The Fisher House program has been approved for Detroit VA and Ann Arbor VA. The Fisher house is asking for donations to help with land acquisition and costs of building. If you donate $500.00 it will be matched by major corporations.
John spoke about the upcoming MSC Convention scheduled for June 8-10, 2018 at the Hilton DoubleTree in Detroit. Convention registration forms, hotel reservation flyer and ad book solicitation forms were available for the delegates to take back to their chapters. This convention is open to all our VVA and AVVA families. There will be a hospitality room on Friday evening, opening ceremony Saturday morning with special guests and speakers, workshops Saturday afternoon and our 35th anniversary banquet on Saturday night. Sunday morning we will conduct our annual meeting to include election of officers who will lead our organization for the next two years.
John spoke about some membership proposals that National is discussing and he announced that Felicia Malancy is our new Service Office Deputy Director. John urged all delegates to consider sending a representative to attend the Leadership Conference in Palm Springs from July 24 – 29, 2018. The National VVA 'working groups' will be presenting their first official reports on the future potential direction of VVA.
Vice President Ken Rogge reported that the 501c3 has received IRS approval but further action is now on hold until after our State Convention. A meeting was held with Rick Wardlow of CAT 5 Technology who explained his website development company and what they could offer MSC. Rick’s offer sounds promising and very reasonably priced for the services he could provide. Ken announced that he will be handling the convention registration process.
2nd Vice President Tom Meinhardt reported on the Commander's Group meeting and the legislative breakfast that he recently attended. There are plans to begin construction in September 2018 on the new veteran’s home in Grand Rapids.
Secretary Gary Estermyer reported he had received 3 chapter election reports and he will be updating the chapter contact list. Gary then reported on the Lansing "Vietnam Veteran Recognition Day" ceremony and encouraged the chapters to get involved in future events or stage their own ceremony. Gary spoke about the upcoming MSC convention and informed the delegates that informational packets were available today.
Treasurer Floyd Carmichael reviewed the finance report, we still have money in the bank and the bills are paid. Floyd will also be involved in the MSC website development process. He has volunteered to handle the MSC ad book solicitation project also. Some announcements include: MSC campout @ “The Campground” in Manton, MI, May 11-13, 2018.
Veteran's Night at Comerica Park, $33.00, June 26th, VVA Leadership Conference at Palm Springs, CA from July 24-28, 2018, The Wall That Heals at Livingston County Airport, Howell, MI from August 23-26, 2018 and the 25th anniversary of the Women's Memorial in DC.
Region 5 Director Tom Burke announced that AVVA was dropping out of the service office program. Tom is already planning a Region 5 pre-convention meeting in Indianapolis, IN for June 7-9, 2019. In regards to the VA Appeals Modernization Act which will formally be effective in February 2019 … VVA does not endorse this act at this time and does not suggest veterans enroll in it. The VA employees have still not been trained on how to process claims under this act. Once a veteran “opts in” they are all in, there is no turning back. Tom also reported that VVA now has approx. 68,000 life members and 13,000 annual dues paying members.
At-Large Director Sandie Wilson spoke about the A. O. legislative progress the blue water Navy veterans have received to help with their claims. Sandie also spoke about the ‘Red, White & Blue” group which is very supportive of veterans.
Our Ambassador Tim Driscoll spoke about how Col. Kettles supports many projects even when faced with personal family loss. The Ann Arbor 'Fisher House' fundraising continues and Tim encouraged all chapters to donate, especially under the matching funds plan. The new AA VA hospital director is Ginny L. Creasman.
Region 5 AVVA Director Cecilia Essenmacher talked about 'Project Friendship' which will benefit veterans in need and homelessness in Colton, CA (Palm Springs area). She asked all chapters for a donation.
AVVA State President Marilyn Lash spoke about their upcoming elections. Marilyn will not be a candidate and she is unable to attend the convention in June at the DoubleTree. However AVVA will have their new challenge coin available for sale at $10.00 each.
Phil Smith then conducted the final round of nominations; John Riling – President, Ken Rogge – 1st Vice President, Tom Meinhardt and Sandie Wilson – 2nd Vice President, Gary Estermyer – Secretary, Floyd Carmichael – Treasurer and Phil Smith – Election Committee Chair.
Phil then reviewed his five page service officer report. He continues to process claims and attend hearings at the Detroit Regional Office. Pending chapter elections Phil requests the name of the chapter service coordinator. If interest is shown he will conduct a training session. VVA National may schedule a three day training weekend in Silver Springs, MD in January 2019 for all VVA accredited service officers. Scanning and shredding continues at the downtown office in advance of the renovation of office space.
Joe Mishler reported 1,598 POW-MIA from Vietnam. Great Lakes National Cemetery will be holding a POW-MIA ceremony at 11:00 AM on September 15, 2018. GLNC and Ft. Custer National Cemetery will be holding their Memorial Day ceremonies on Sunday, May 27th
. Sandie Wilson reported that bladder cancer, kidney cancer, liver cancer and lung cancer may be related to Camp Lejeune service between August 1953 – December 1987. Did you know that some insect repellent contains arsenic? Some VA hospital doctors contend that if a veteran is/has been successful in life then they must not be suffering from the effects of PTSD. This is a very troubling diagnosis and problematic in developing a PTSD claim. Getting an outside the VA diagnosis is the better choice for veterans. It has been questioned whether or not the VA has enough mental health professionals?
The next meeting of the MSC will be June 10, 10:00 AM at the DoubleTree (Ford Road/Southfield Fwy.). Meeting adjourned at 1:08 PM.
This Sunday, March 11, 2018 meeting in Howell was chaired by 2nd V. President Tom Meinhardt. Tom brought the meeting to order right at 10:00 AM. Tom read the written report from President John Riling which included the news that the VVA Service Program had been voted out of the Coalition in early January 2018. Attendance and reporting issues of field service officers were the main reasons for our removal. There is hope that VVA will be permitted to rejoin the Coalition sometime in the near future. As a direct result of this action John made the decision to fire one service officer and terminate two others because the State Council lost it's funding from the state. The main office in Detroit will remain open and it will be staffed by three service officers (which includes Chief Service Officer, Phil Smith). While John has been in Florida he has been in contact with a professional grant writer and he’s optimistic this will lead us in a positive direction.
Tom also announced that the State Council had received a bequest from a Vietnam veteran in upper Michigan. This money will help offset our funding loss from the state MVAA office. I presented a $250.00 donation request to benefit Habitat For Humanity – Global Team. After a brief discussion this request was approved unanimously. I reminded the delegates that chapter elections would be taking place during April and they should ensure that they complete their chapter election report form and get a copy to National and to me, the state council secretary.
Treasurer Floyd Carmichael reviewed his report and discussed our new proposed budget. Floyd has also been working on two MSC websites; one for the council and one for the 501c3 (which is a work in progress). He also announced that he will pass out packages of MSC pens to the delegates.
Phil Smith opened nominations for the officers and election committee chairman. All the incumbent officers were nominated as was Phil for election committee chair. Nominations will be open again at the April 22 meeting in Holly, MI.
Vietnam Veterans Recognition Day ceremonies will be taking place throughout the state, primarily on March 29th.
Some Important upcoming VVA and veteran related events include; April 22 MSC meeting in Holly, MI - May 11-13, MSC campout in ‘The Campground’, Manton, MI - June 8-10, MSC Annual/election meeting in Dearborn – June 26, Veteran’s Night at Comerica Park - July 24-28, VVA National Leadership Conference, Palm Springs, CA - August 23-26, The Wall That Heals (traveling Wall), Livingston County Airport (hosted by Howell DAV) Meeting adjourned at 12:08 PM.
Sunday, December 3rd we were back in Howell for our State Council meeting/luncheon. All the officers and 16 chapter delegates were present. President John Riling started the meeting right at 10:00 AM with the pledge of allegiance and a moment of silence.
John welcomed everyone and began his report speaking about the efforts of some county service officers who are seeking a cut of the Coalition service officer budget. County service officers already receive funding from their respective county and they are restricted from the appeal process in claim adjudication. John plans to attend the National VVA BOD and the Council of State Council Presidents (CSCP) meeting in Silver Springs, MD in January. He will be in Florida then so he will fly up from there. John then announced his committee chair appointments; Ken Rogge as Public Affairs Chair and Sandie Wilson as Veterans Health Care Chair. The delegates approved these appointments. John then began discussion on the State Council donation policy that the BOD has been working on for the past 5 months. All the delegates were given copies of the policy and the donation request form.
1st Vice President Ken Rogge reported that the CFC program in Michigan continues to experience major staffing problems. Ken has not been able to get us scheduled to participate in the program this year. Ken has also been working on our 501c(3), Vietnam Veterans of Michigan Foundation, Inc. (VVMF). We have our EIN however the mission statement and bylaws have to be firmed up.
2nd Vice President Tom Meinhardt reported that the Veteran's Day ceremony at GLNC went well where he performed the chaplain duties. John Riling, Ken Rogge, Gary Estermyer and Phil Smith also attended that event.
Secretary Gary Estermyer reported that no chapters have submitted bids to host the June 2018 Annual Meeting as of today. The idea to stage a DOD 50th event in June is very flexible.
Treasurer Floyd Carmichael reviewed the MSC report. The annual audit he submitted to our CPA Bruce Himrod passed with flying colors. He also has been working on developing a MSC website. Floyd reported he had sent out our hurricane donations to Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico. He also asked all committee chairs to submit a committee budget request.
Our MSC Ambassador Tim Driscoll reported that he had attended a Downriver 4 Vets Thanksgiving event at the American Legion hall in Taylor. Nine busloads of wheelchair bound veterans attended that event and Tim was very impressed. Tim spoke about the Fisher House project in Ann Arbor and that donations are welcome. Sandie Wilson's old MSC car donation program has been very generous in making donations to Fisher House and helping out with the hurricane relief efforts. Tim was also involved in a PTSD town hall meeting at the Saline American Legion hall yesterday, 12/2/17.
A VVA campout is planned for the weekend of May 11-13, 2018 in Manton, MI.
Sandie Wilson covered a number of Veterans Health Care issues; VA hospital leadership problems, VA claims to cure PTSD patients in 13 visits and privatizing of VA health care.
Joe Mishler asked about the possibility of the MSC staging an Agent Orange town hall event. He also brought up the difficulties some veterans have getting transportation to and from VA hospital appointments. John then announced the appointment of Mike Goodpaster as chair of the A.O. Riders Committee. The delegates approved this appointment also.
Phil Smith then gave an election committee report. Nominations will begin at the February meeting and conclude at the April meeting. The elections will take place at the June 2018 meeting.
Floyd is working on the MSC and service program budgets for 2018-2019.
Jack Devine reported that the state in having difficulties in locating suitable land to build the new veterans homes in Wayne, Oakland or Macomb counties. HB 5135 seeks to establish March 29 as Vietnam Veterans Day in Michigan.
Ken reported that VVA National now has over 82,000 members and Michigan is over 4,700.
Floyd reported that Ft. Custer National Cemetery has 35,326 internments. Floyd is now the secretary of that advisory committee and their director has transferred back to Ohio. Tom Meinhardt reported that GLNC now has had 35,437 internments. It was announced that the Wreaths Across America project is scheduled for December 16, 2017. A new group is planning to place a rose at each veteran gravesite on Memorial Day.
Joe Mishler reported that on POW/MIA day there were 80 or 90 Waterford National Guard members at GLNC for their ceremony. The national count is now 1,602 POW/MIA from the Vietnam War. Joe would like to explore the concept of placing a POW/MIA monument at GLNC.
Ken reported that National VVA Public Affairs is planning to create a JROTC program.
Ray Essenmacher reported that during the Thanksgiving and holiday season veteran suicides spike.
Ray also reported that a new therapy treatment for PTSD patients involves using a hyperbaric chamber.
Phil Savage reported that the VA hospitals in Detroit and Iron Mountain still need VAVS representatives.
Phil Smith reviewed the service office report. September recoveries were $2,349,882 and October recoveries were $2,597,414. Phil announced that I was going to officially start service officer training on December 4th and a secretary/receptionist is to begin on December 6th. The MSC service office personnel policy needs to be reviewed and possibly revised. Phil reported that the Coalition bookkeeper has resigned and Gary Easterling (American Legion) has agreed to take over those duties.
It was reported that the Jackson "Cotton" prison facility veteran inmates are now conducting fundraising projects. Cotton also has a K9 unit for the blind. Macomb and the St. Louis facilities also have K9 programs. Tom Meinhardt continues to visit the incarcerated veterans at; St. Louis, Carson City and Freeland facilities.
Marilyn Lash, Michigan AVVA President explained their gift card fundraiser that will take place during this meeting. They profited $405 from this project. Cecilia Essenmacher, Region 5 AVVA Director, spoke about state and national AVVA members and many of the AVVA rules and regulations.
The next meeting for VVA and AVVA is scheduled for February 11, 2018 at 10:00 AM in Howell. The April meeting may be held in Holly on the 22nd. The meeting adjourned at 1:58 PM.
John then introduced Lori Weber, our guest speaker, who spoke about her personal battles with numerous illnesses. Lori is the daughter of an in-country veteran and she believes her health issues are directly related to her father's exposure to Agent Orange.
John reviewed the VVA National membership report which shows that Chapter 154 remains in 4th place and Chapter 267 in 22nd place. Chapter 528 needs to recruit about 20 members to break into the top 25 chapters in members.
John reported that Walgreen's is now offering free flu shots for veterans. John then opened discussion regarding making a hurricane relief donation to Texas. Further discussion led to a motion (1083/494) to donate $500.00 each to Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico VVA contacts. Motion passed unanimously.
Vice President Ken Rogge reported that the CFC 2017 campaign officially begins Oct. 2. Only problem with that is there is no regional CFC director to work with. When they get the program rolling the MSC will participate.
2nd Vice President Tom Meinhardt reported that he has been working on the details of the MSC hosting the Veteran's Day ceremony at Great Lakes National Cemetery, GLNC.
Secretary Gary Estermyer spoke about the changes to the consent calendar process that the Council uses. Gary also informed the delegates of a MSC donation policy that is being formulated. Details of the policy will be reported at the Dec. 3rd MSC meeting. Chapter delegates were again asked to consider hosting the June 2018 Annual Meeting.
Treasurer Floyd Carmichael reviewed the double report he had prepared which covered the periods of 6/11 – 08/05 and 08/06 – 09/30. The 501c(3) paperwork has to be re-submitted. Floyd and the officers will schedule a budget meeting soon. MSC had received another generous donation from Michigan Gas Utilities and Wisconsin Public Service Foundation. Floyd also reported he will begin working on a MSC website.
Some announcements included: the Chapter 528 – Sportsman Raffle on Oct. 8th, the Detroit Veteran's Day parade on Sunday, Nov. 5 at 9:00 AM line up. Go to www.detroitveteransdayparade.org. for registration. James McCloughan, MOH recipient is to be the Grand Marshall and he is scheduled to be in Battle Creek on Oct. 27th.
There will also be an open house 50th Anniversary Vietnam War Commemorative event at the Battle Creek Air National Guard base on Friday, Oct. 27th, 2:00 PM. Senators Mike Kowall and Mike Nofs will participate in this pinning ceremony.
Sandie Wilson spoke about her bad experiences with the Detroit VA hospital and her attempts to advocate for better care for George Claxton.
Tom Burke, Region 5 Director, reported that the current national membership count is 81,684 of which 65,247 are life members. Region 5 now has 13,738 members. Tom spoke about the Appeals Modernization Act and why VVA didn't support it (lack of training and preparation). He also mentioned the Forever GI Bill and the Blue Water Navy Bill which VVA does support.
Tim Driscoll spoke about the JROTC program that VVA would like to get involved with.
Jack Devine reported on some veteran related legislation that he is keeping track of. Jack also reported that the director of the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans has recently resigned.
GLNC has had 3,703 burials so far this year and since the cemetery opened in 2012 34,694 have been buried. At Ft. Custer National Cemetery over 34,000 funeral services have taken place. Construction and expansion projects are planned to include Arbor Day tree trimming and improvements.
Ann Arbor, Battle Creek and Saginaw VA hospitals have all experienced construction projects recently. VVA volunteer hours are also being tracked at these hospitals.
Ray Essenmacher, Veterans Health Care, suggested every veteran get tested for Hep C. Ray also spoke about a veteran’s incarcerated initiative called "Second Chance". Before MSC endorses this initiative it needs to be investigated.
Phil Smith reviewed his report and spoke about the upcoming Coalition contract, MVAA grant and the service office budget for 2017-18. Recoveries for July were $2,349,882 and $3,444,711 for August.
Marilyn Lash, AVVA President reported that donations from Michigan totaled $950.00 for Project Friendship and nationally $15,099.00 was donated.
Our Christmas luncheon will be held in Howell on Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017.
2nd Vice President Tom Meinhardt gave his NOLA report and mentioned he was in no hurry to return. Tom also was surprised to receive the Commendation Award, VVA's highest honor.
Secretary Gary Estermyer reported he had received all but one chapter election report and he was working with that chapter to get a copy. Gary will now update the chapter contact list to make it easy to get the minutes and state council updates out to the field. Gary also reported he was disappointed with the overall lack of preparation early in the convention proceedings.
Treasurer Floyd Carmichael returned from NOLA and immediately became involved with Ft. Custer Cemetery business and his Chapter 313 booth at the county fair. Floyd will have a double report available at the next meeting. Floyd also reported that the 501c3 paperwork had been returned for possible name and/or language revision.
Tim Driscoll announced that Chapter 310 had received the eChapter Newsletter of the Year award at NOLA.
Numerous POW-MIA ceremonies will be held throughout the state, most of them on Sep. 15.
Sandie Wilson, reelected as National At-Large Director, said she plans to keep the pressure on regarding the Agent Orange exposure issue. She stressed the importance of chapter members doing all they can to advocate for veteran related legislation. Tom Burke, reelected as Region 5 Director and reappointed as chair of the Veterans Benefits committee plans to attend our next state council meeting on Oct. 1st and 528's 50th Vietnam Commemoration event on Sep. 30th.
John reported that as of July, VVA now has 81,510 members. Michigan now has 4,660 members. Michigan chapter 154 is in 4th place and Dearborn Chapter 267 is in 22nd place.
Tom Meinhardt continues to work on the details of the Michigan State Council hosting the Veteran's Day ceremony at Great Lakes National Cemetery.
John reported that his product sales team did well at NOLA. He will be setting up at the Dearborn "Hog Heaven" event, Kokomo Reunion and 528's Vietnam Commemoration event in September.
National VVA is launching a JROTC program and is hoping for chapter and state council support.
Chief Service Office Director Phil Smith reviewed his 9 page written report. The VA continues to study the medical issues relating to exposure to Agent Orange which includes; bladder, pancreatic, brain, kidney, liver, lung and breast cancers. Recoveries for the month of June were $2,343,965 and $2,326,063 for July. Phil's staff now includes two new service officers (in training) and one new secretary/receptionist.
Sandie reported that patient over-medication problems occur regularly at some VA hospitals. Also of concern are the side effects and interaction of various drugs. Veterans and their families should remain vigilant regarding these issues.
Marilyn Lash, AVVA President, spoke about the AVVA table display she had made up. They also plan to promote AVVA by using an informational brochure. They have discussed fundraising ideas and their recipient's to include; the airport welcome center, hospitals and Fisher House.
Plymouth-Canton Chapter 528 will host the next MSC meeting on Sunday, Oct. 1st at the VFW hall. The last MSC meeting of the year will be held on December 3rd at the Howell American Legion hall.
Meeting adjourned at 12:16 PM.
Opening Ceremony & Beads
Gary Estermyer, Ken Rogge - MSC VP, Floyd Carmichael - MSC Treasurer, Mike Goodpaster and Mike Goode.
President John Rowan
President John Riling brought the meeting to order on Sunday, April 2, right at 10:00 AM. The meeting at the Howell American Legion post was well attended with all the officers present and 17 chapters represented.
1st Vice President Ken Rogge reported that he is aware of 8 transfers from the at-large membership to chapters. Ken also spoke about the Vietnam Veteran Day ceremonies he and Floyd recently attended in Kalamazoo.
2nd Vice President Tom Meinhardt reported that he has been cleared to visit the veterans in the Coldwater prison facility. He also has visited the VVA members at the Cotton facility.
Secretary Gary Estermyer spoke about updating the chapter contact list as he receives the election report from all the chapters that have elections later this month. Gary asked the delegates to try to ensure accuracy when the forms are filled out.
Treasurer Floyd Carmichael reviewed the finance report. He also noted the generosity shown by Rick Fraser of OthersFirst (car program). The MSC is very grateful for the donations from them. Floyd has finished sorting and re-organizing all the bank statements and records he inherited. He has also created a spreadsheet with our itemized financial data that will be useful for our CPA, Bruce Himrod.
John announced that Floyd, Phil and Gary would be attending the April National VVA BOD meeting in Silver Spring with him. John said that at this time all the National officers are running for re-election and only a few director candidates have announced. John spoke about the delegate release form to be used by chapters that will not be sending their full complement of convention delegates. Chapter 154 promptly signed off on 10 delegates. John encouraged all delegates who are going to New Orleans to also attend the Region 5 meeting the first weekend of May.
John suggested we offer Rick Fraser special recognition for his organizations donations to the council. John also stressed the importance of the VVA commendation and achievement awards. John also plans to create a new service dog committee with Phil Savage (Chapter 313) as the chairman. John plans to take the product sales team on the road to the Region 3 and Region 5 pre-convention meetings. He also is looking ahead to a Vetstock event in Fowlerville, LZ Michigan in Grand Rapids and Kokomo. John also wants to proceed with offering special convention polo shirts for all Michigan delegates. Shirt sizes are needed gentlemen, see Gary or John with this information.
It was announced that Selfridge ANG base will be celebrating its 100th anniversary in early May. Chris Franklin (Chapter 154) was to receive the Native American Veteran of the Year award. Former MSC Service Office Director George Claxton is now in a long term care facility. A member of Muskegon Chapter 31 recently returned from a Vietnam trip.
Jack Devine has been following veteran related legislation in Lansing. This includes the six veteran homes that will be built across Michigan.
Ray Essenmacher (Chapter 494) reported that the St. Louis and Saginaw correctional facilities are now conducting service dog training. Tim Driscoll reported that Ann Arbor VA hospital has almost completed its parking lot construction.
Tim also announced that his chapter (310) has been renamed the Charles S. Kettles Chapter. Phil Smith, Chief Service Office Director reported that he lost another employee to another VSO that offered better benefits. He has conducted interviews for another service officer and office secretary. He reviewed the rest of his report and spoke about The Camp Lejeune Toxic Water Act which authorized claims to be filed, further information can be found at www.va.gov/CampLejeune. Phil has only received 1 application for Veteran of the Year which will be recognized at Veterans Night at Comerica Park event, June 15, $38.00 includes a ticket, hotdog and drink.
AVVA President Marilyn Lash reported they were discussing the development of a tri-fold handout that would contain internet links helpful to the veteran community. They are also considering holding regional AVVA meetings.
Future MSC meeting dates are; June 11 (Howell), August 20 (Howell), October "retreat" plans (TBD) and our Christmas luncheon/meeting on December 3 in Howell.
Washtenaw County chapter 310 hosted the Feb. 12, 2017 meeting at the Ann Arbor VFW hall. All the officers were present and 13 chapters were represented. President John Riling welcomed everyone and started the meeting at 10:08 AM.
1st Vice President Ken Rogge reported that he has only gotten 6 chapter responses regarding the at-large membership drive. He recently attended a VISN 10 meeting and many issues were discussed; personnel speaking rudely, English language problems and grading of lower level staff. The Ann Arbor VA hospital is working to address these issues and more to benefit all their veteran patients. Ken also reported on the Detroit VA hospital SAIL meeting he and I attended. Seven different VSO’s attended and we were briefed by the hospital leadership on how they were working to improve their low level scores.
2nd Vice President Tom Meinhardt recently returned from New Orleans and gave his report about what we could expect. He will provide a more detailed written report on restaurants and things to do while in the area. Tom also spoke briefly about the at-large incarcerated members. I reviewed the travel policy and after discussion the policy was approved with minor changes.
Treasurer Floyd Carmichael is working on our IRS 990 form. Floyd reviewed the finance report and reported our bills are paid and we're still in the black. Floyd has also been doing the initial homework on establishing a 501c3 for the state council. A name and incorporation forms need to be completed.
President John Riling then spoke about the telephone town hall he participated in with the Detroit VA hospital. It was reported that Ann Arbor and Saginaw VA hospitals have also conducted similar town halls. John reported that MSC had recently received another nice donation from an organization named OthersFirst. Fisher House Foundation is planning to build an Ann Arbor home to provide free lodging for families of patients receiving care at the VA. John then talked about the VVA web roster. By now all chapters should have completed and sent in the form National requested. There are now 80,000+ VVA members of which over 62,000 are life members.
Ray Essenmacher of Bay City Chapter 494 spoke about supporting Michigan SB 70. This bill seeks to extend the Vietnam Era Bonus Act 370 of 1974 from 01-01-61 / 09-01-73 to 01-01-61 / 05-07-75. The delegates voted unanimously to support SB 70.
John spoke about the proposed constitution amendment dealing with state council restrictions on fundraising. After discussion the delegates voted to support his amendment. Colt Romberger is the son of Cliff Romberger who died of agent orange exposure illness. Colt plans to ride his horse Teddy on a 3,000 mile journey from Santa Monica to Washington DC, leaving May 1, 2017. The purpose is to raise awareness for veterans suffering from the effects of Agent Orange exposure. For details check out his website; www.expeditionorange.org. John also reported that LZ MICHIGAN, a welcome home event, will take place on Sep. 23, 2017 at Fifth Third Ballpark in Grand Rapids. More details can be found at; www.wgvu.org/lz-michigan.
Jack Devine spoke about a package of veteran related bills introduced in the Michigan House and Senate. SB-45 & HBs 4104, 4139, 4165 all deal with property tax exemptions for disabled vets. Jack also reported on the Veterans Authority that was passed regarding the new veterans homes that are to be built to replace the Grand Rapids Veterans Home. It was mentioned that a closed hospital in Trenton could be considered as a renovation project for veterans.
Ray Essenmacher reported that the concept of an all veteran state prison in Saginaw is being floated.
Tom Meinhardt is waiting for clearance to visit the Coldwater facility and he did visit the veterans in Jackson Prison. The Adrian facility has requested a chapter start up kit.
Floyd Carmichael reported that Ft. Custer cemetery uses 5 different units for their color guard duties. There are between 1,300 - 1,500 burials per year. In 2016 the Washtenaw Cty. Color Guard assisted in 170 funeral details. It was also reported that there were 208 burials in January at Great Lakes National Cemetery, 32,143 year to date. The MSC was informed we would not sponsor the upcoming Memorial Day ceremony at GLNC but would host the Veterans Day ceremony.
Phil then reviewed his Service Office 5 page report. January recoveries were $1,507,151.00. Phil will be interviewing and hopefully hiring new PT service officers.
The veteran’s treatment court now has 31 vets in the program and 12 are due to graduate.
You may have heard/read about PTS vs. PTSD? PTS concludes no brain damage thus no benefits. PTSD does assume brain damage and benefits are available.
June 15 is Veteran’s Day at Comerica Park.
June 22 - 25 is “Veterans R&R” in Pellston, MI, check out Brave Hearts Estate for details.
Next MSC meeting is April 2, 2017.