October 2014


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

Minutes for October meeting and AGENDA

September meeting minutes accepted.

Greg Allen, our new Chief of Police, shared some thoughts with us. He started here in February after his 30 years of service in the ARMY.

Kirk L. attended a business expo and he talked with a Common Ground representative; Common Ground is a non-profit organization that offers free legal aid and services and crisis counseling to Veterans. Kirk asked him to be a guest speaker during our November meeting. Another person Kirk met worked for a legal center (VA accredited) that assists Vets with hospice care, end-of-life services, and disability issues like home ramps and claims. Kirk L. will email some information about those organizations. Mark L. will also look for some information to share.

Dr. Chermack (Chief – Mental Health Services) and Dr. Martis (Associate Chief) came to participate. Dr. Chermack said they wanted to join us on a regular basis. This will give our Council an opportunity to give input to them during our meetings; we also have Paul J. representing us during MHS Leadership meetings (Erik C. is on sabbatical). Council representation at other MHS meetings is being considered. Partnering with groups and community organizations is an important MHS priority. Dr. Martis said he and Dr. Chermack work together and understand the value of partnering with Vets and the community. They recently were part of a large conference in Toledo to promote the Justice Outreach Program and they are currently working on a program to coordinate efforts of community MH groups, the VA, and the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency. Billie W., Lloyd S., and Kirk L. asked about help for families. VA and M-SPAN worked together on the successful Mental Health Summit dedicated to improving services/resources for Veterans and their families. There are also meetings with Washtenaw officials and MH groups to help improve services/resources. The VA encourages and supports Vet-to-Vet group activities. MHS has many more programs that are ongoing and others are being planned. Council members gave some valuable input. Mark L. said the Washtenaw County Veterans Affairs Office would be an important partner. Council looks forward to working with Dr. Chermack and Dr. Martis.

Felicia W. had some questions about eligibility for the Michigan Trust Fund; we will address that during our next meeting.

Catherine Kerr (Acting Assistant Director) gave us an update on the necessary precautions to prevent/minimize any (unlikely) threat of Ebola. Staff has participated in training. Screening questions and protocols are in place to ensure the rapid detection and isolation of exposed patients and staff. A First Response Team has been created. She also explained what work has been done for implementing the “Choice Card” Program. Eligibility depends on two factors: 1. Distance, any Vet who lives 40 miles from a VA (including CBOC facilities); 2. Any Vet enrolled in the VA as of August 1, 2014 or has been recently discharged and cannot get an appointment within the 30-day time standard. November 5th is the planned date for mailing the cards. Kirk L. asked about card use if the needed service is not offered at the nearby VA. She said that is not an automatic reason for card use. Joe R. said the current fee-based system is not paying bills, some are past due for a year. Catherine said the card payment process is different and will be administered by a Central Office. Lori Y. said some Veterans do not understand the non-VA Emergency Care procedures. Paul J. clarified the need for Vets to get an Emergency Care Card from their PACT. Lori also said female Vets are having problems getting female-only group therapy sessions; Dr. Chermack and Dr. Martis will look into offering more services for female Vets. Alexander B. said he needed emergency care in Florida; the VA Clinic and the non-VA referral clinic could not access his VAAAHS records; this may also be a problem for the Choice Card Program. Catherine and Dr. Martis said these problems are being worked on – it’s a complicated process.

Linda H. said the Planetree Conference was successful and got some really good improvement ideas to work on. VAAAHS continues to strive for the Planetree Gold Award: focus groups for Mental Health and CLC and Staff will happen soon. Plans for the new sign project continues; feedback from the Council was helpful. The Welcome Center project is moving along. The design is in the final stage for acceptance.


  1. Preliminary activities: Sign-in Sheet, Minutes acceptance, New Members.
  2. Common Ground.
  3. Linda H.
  4. Paul J.
  5. Felicia W.
  6. Lori Y.
  7. Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency – website – michiganveterans.com
  8. Vet-to-Vet.
  9. Other Thoughts, Topics, Comments, Suggestions.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year — Because of the holidays we not meet in December.

Please mark your calendar – Our next Council meeting will be January 27 ***2015 *** Tuesday, 10:30 – Noon in Room 728.



Terry Keck, Gary Bourdeau, Don Behm, Ed Roberts, Joe Riedy, Ryan Christman, Paul Jingozian, Maurice Warren, Alex Beach, Lori Young, Erik Cuolahan, Felicia West, Mark Lyubkin, Kirk Lanam, Vincent Warren, Brian Rounsifer, Greg Poulos, John Branstetter, Mark Lindke, Ray Pasquantonio, Linda Harrison, Billie Whittaker, Asuki ONeill, Derek Atkinson, Beau Nelson, Lloyd Suter, Bruce Schultz, Larry Blanchard, Bob Board, Jon Luker, Rick Donley, Daniel Gerhardi, Rudy Beegen