February 2014

Ann Arbor Veterans Council

Meeting: March 25, 2014 Time: 10:30 – Noon Room: 728

Minutes for February meeting and AGENDA

January meeting minutes accepted.

Linda H. said the Silver Award Celebration on January 15 was very successful with many people attending; Terry K. and Paul J. were speakers during the event. At the end of January, the New Jersey VA was here; their Veteran-Centered CareTeam participated in meetings & tours to find out more about our best practices so they can earn a Silver Award by improving their patient satisfaction scores (they were the first VA to earn a Bronze Award). The team met with Terry & Paul to learn more about how our Council partners with the VA. The National VA office had a conference call with Linda to discuss the Silver Award. Linda has met and will meet with the Chief of Pharmacy to see how a Council Representative could get involved with the Pharmacy decision-making process. The WIFI project should be completed by the end of March. Toledo will have a “Listening Post” event so 15 Veterans can give input to the Director and other leaders. Veteran feedback will be collected on the Hoptel renovation project. Felicia W. asked if the 5th floor rooms could be made larger because two Vets in a small room is very crowded; Linda will look into this.

The Veterans (patient) Satisfaction Committee is acting on our request (Teresa K.) to have handles put on the doors of the handicap toilet stalls; handles have been ordered. Please let us know if there are other issues that need to be presented to this committee.

Paul J. escorted Miss Michigan as she visited Vets (patients) in our VA during “Salute to Veterans Week.” Vets enjoyed the visit and had pictures taken with her. Congressional representatives, UM and EMU sports teams also visited our hospital. Paul participated in the “Veterans Weekend” fundraising event during the Plymouth Whalers hockey game; Director McDivitt was presented with a $10,000 check. Paul said future patient visits are being planned for the UM Basketball Team, professional boxers, and the Whalers hockey team. Felicia W. will ask her cousin (a female boxing champion) about making a visit. Please let Paul know if you have other suggestions.

Kirk L. said that Ryan C. has decided not to continue with the V2V communication project.

Erik C. suggested that it may be useful to have Vets give video presentations about activities that are helping Vets and put them on the V2V website. Kirk L. said our Public Affairs Office told him that type of project would violate VA policy: no cameras in the hospital. There are also federal release forms that need to be considered. Erik will do further research on this idea. WWII Vet, John (Erik’s “adopted Dad”) joined us on his birthday – 89 years old – We cheered and clapped. Erik showed the Council some information from a business that charges a FEE for filing benefit claims for Vets. Council had an open discussion about Veterans using NO FEE filing at Veteran Service Organizations or the County VA offices for their claims. Mark L. explained that the county offices belong to the Michigan Association of County Veterans Counselors (some are good & some bad); go to www.macvc.net for more information. Mark said when a Vet uses a VSO a “Power-of-Attorney” form is signed, if the VSO officer is not available then nothing gets done because the Vet cannot go to another VSO. The County VA Office will always have someone available. Vicki D. and Mark L. told us about some attorneys, companies, or other people that charge a fee or other costs for “helping” Veterans; both Vicki and Mark gave warnings; Be very careful. Mark will ask Michael Smith, Director of the Washtenaw County VA Office, to be a guest speaker in April or May.

Paul J. said there is a new Mentor Coordinator for the Washtenaw Justice Outreach Program (Veterans Court and Mentor Program). This will continue the progress in this important program. Please talk with Paul or Mark if you, or any Vet you know, are interested in becoming a Mentor; volunteers are needed.

Lori Y., Teresa K., and Felicia W. said the V2V for Women groups are going well and making progress. They brought up a concern about the cancelation of the Anger Management Group for Women; this is very troubling. Our Council will create a formal statement (“Council Comment”)and vote on it during our next meeting. We will submit this to the Mental Health Leadership asking them to re-start this group; this is very important because women need gender specific support.

Please share our meeting information with other Vets and people who care for and about us.


Guest Speakers: Dr. Singh (Associate Director) and Stacey Breedveld (Associate Director Patient Care Services).

  1. Preliminary activities: Sign-in Sheet, Minutes acceptance, New Members.
  2. Linda H. update.
  3. Kirk L. – www.veteranscounsel.org
  4. Erik C. – Mental Health Leadership Meeting.
  5. Veteran and Family VAAAHS Orientation Class.
  6. Veterans Court and Mentor Program.
  7. Vet-to-Vet.
  8. Other Thoughts, Topics, Comments, Suggestions.

Please mark your calendar – Our next Council meeting will be April 22, 2014, Tuesday, 10:30 – Noon in Room 728.


Terry Keck Gary Bourdeau Don Behm Ed Roberts Joe Riedy Ryan Christman Paul Jingozian Maurice Warren Jim Keith Lori Young Erik Cuolahan Felicia West Mark Lyubkin Frank Kimberlin Ron Lamirand Brian Rounsifer Greg Poulos John Branstetter Mark Lindke Teresa Kamphorst Linda Harrison Billie Whittaker Vicki Dawson Derek Atkinson C. Beau Nelson Lloyd Suter Bruce Schultz Larry Blanchard Bob Board Jon Luker Rick Donley Asuki ONeill Alex Beach Ray Pasquantonio Kirk Lanam Rudy Beegen