Minutes for January 2015 CVO Meeting

January 17, 2015 Meeting Minutes

  1. Call to Order: The meeting was called to order at 10:23 AM at JESSE Brown VAH by Bruce Parry, Chair, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance and a moment of Silence for those in Harm’s way.
  2. Roll Call/Introduction of those present: CJ Brown [VEA], Eugene Campbell [MPMA], Constance L.  Edwards [NWVU], Stacy Henderson [NWVU, MPMA], Chester Henry [VVAW], Darryl Howard [555th PIA], Gloria Johnson [VetNet], Darryl Lockhart [Am Legion Dorie Miller 915], Virgil Mathis [AL 2091], Rick Murray [555th PIA, ACVA], Larry Nazimek [VSF], Francine O’Connor [VU], Bruce Parry [Chair], Stanley Porter [MPMA], David J. Rogers [VetNet,VSF,VFW, VU], Frank Thompson [Harold Washington AL Post 1987], Ronald Wright [New Inkspots]
  3. Mission of CVO: The Coalition of Veterans Organizations is a group of individuals and member organizations whose purpose is to advocate and educate veterans and the public on issues that impact veterans and their families. Reading of the mission is intended to help member stay on track during the meetings.
  4. Approval of Agenda: Add CVO as 501c(3) AGENT FOR A MEMBER ORGANIZATION to the agenda. Moved and seconded for approval by Nazimek and Thompson. Minutes of the Meetings will be e-mailed to those with e-mail addresses and will no longer be read during the meetings. A few copies of the minutes will be available during the meeting to those not on e-mail.
  5. Financial Reports: The monthly report for December 2014 and the Yearend report for 2014 was circulated in print to those present. Copies are filed in the official files documents of CVO.  The monthly report was approved on motion and second by Thompson and Brown. The Yearend report was approved following a motion by Murray and second by Henderson.  It was noted that $830 was given to other veterans organizations in 2014. A suggestion was made that the amounts given to organizations be individually identified in the end of year report. Discussion was held about the CVO being the financial agent for one of the member organizations, Veterans for Unification.
  6. Presentation : C. J. Brown, founder and President of Veterans Employment Alliance discussed the mission, functions and direction of the organization. The organization is a collaboration of Veterans organizations and corporate agencies set up to assist veterans to develop skills for income producing careers for themselves.  Nine different states and Washington, DC now offer the program. CJ has developed a 2 volume curriculum that helps veterans develop careers. The focus is “20 Days to Employment”. The time commitment is completed in 6 weeks at 2 hours per week. Of 100 participants 97 get employed and a large percentage go on to more long term careers. The program is now looking for a Veteran in Illinois to start a program to offer the curriculum in Illinois. Virgil Mathis said he would like to work with the project since he has gotten approval for his invention and program by Homeland Security. Mr. Brown stated that the VA and the US Department of Education have approved the program. The VA pays for tuition for a virtual classroom computer skills course to prepare veterans to work from home. CJ Brown has a weekly radio program on which he highlight veterans and veterans’ programs.
  7. Committee Reports:
    1. Executive Committee: Chair Bruce Parry presented on the discussions of the Board of Directors regarding the direction of CVO in the future. A major point is that new officers will be needed. The election shall be in April 2015. This will be the first year moving elections from January to April. The move is due to realization that election in January was compromised by so many competing affairs in November and December.

Montford Point Marine Association is no longer available for CVO meetings. The Chair will make attempts to secure meeting space at Jesse Brown VAH for meetings. The former contact person Joe Basil has retired from the VAH. Relationship will need to be further developed with Kevin Harris in the office of the Director of JBVAH. Francine O’Connor suggested we check with attending members if the meeting time is okay so people can be on time for meetings.  She suggested that CVO may consider dovetailing its meetings on the last Tuesday evenings of the month at JBVAH. Rogers agreed that a meeting day change is a good idea. Other suggested that week night meetings may conflict with individuals who work and will be opposed to extending their days. After the discussion it was decided to continue with the meetings being 10-12 noon on Saturdays and efforts be made for people to improve on timeliness in getting to the meetings as announced. David Rogers stated we need to continue to develop passion to continue the organizational momentum of “Leaving no veteran behind”. CVO has been a major catalyst to getting Congress and the VA systems to take action on specific Veterans Issues. CVO had addressed most of the veteran’s issues years before those issues became news items.

  1. Newsletter Committee: Three editions of the newsletter have been published. The deadline for submissions for the next issue is February 1. 2015. Organizations that have not yet written a succinct article on its mission and programs should submit that as soon as possible so that organization will know what each is doing and where there are common areas where a coalition will be more impactful than simply individual organizations efforts.
  2. Membership Committee: Calendar membership is now in place and must be paid by April before major voting takes place since only paid members are permitted to vote. Organizational Membership fee is $50  (includes privileges for one voting member not required to pay individual dues) and individual membership is $10 annually. The chair will send out another mass mailing about membership.
  3. Homelessness Committee. David Roger reported that the group meets regularly at the Old Austin YMCA. Date and times need to be clarified with Rogers.  Current Homelessness Committee members are David Rogers, Rochelle Crump, Francine O’Connor, Christopher LaFayette, Abubakr Nurrudin, Demont Moore, Mike Wallace, Madeline Sanders… Rogers reported on a partnership with the Salvation Army on Two are One Program and Adopt a Vet. There is also discussions about Upgrading dishonorable discharges as bad discharges hinder veterans from getting what is due to them. Lori______, a student from Dominican University is an intern working with the group at Austin Y was present at the meeting. She is working on the internet as a way of collaborating on veterans’ issues. Harold Washington American Legion has a mission of visiting nursing homes and seeking out veterans. An idea surfaced—to develop an Outreach Committee. The nursing Home visitation could be expanded to a wider geographical area. CJ said he could help people know how to find veterans “under the bridges”
  4. Veterans against Violence: Daryl Howard is heading up that committee. The Committee met in January with 8 people in attendance. They discussed how veterans can be involved in keeping young people positively engaged in ways they can avoid violence. Daryl said he is working with some police in the area of St. Sabina’s Church to develop strategies. No upcoming meeting date was set. Ronald Wright said he too wants to get involved in the efforts.
  5. Veterans Affairs Committee: 500 copies of a nice colored bound brochure is now available highlighting pressing veterans issues. Members are encouraged to pick up copies of the brochure during meetings and get them out to veteran’s organizations and the public. Our primary mission is to educate on the issues.  Discussion about the Crisis Hotline continues. There should be a push to have a national emergency number such as 611 that goes directly to a person rather than to a voicemail. We need to educate veterans about the Choice card that permits them to get service at the nearest civilian emergency room if they are not able to get immediately to a VAH for psychiatric service. One is required to notify the VAH immediately after service if they want the VA to pick up the cost for civilian emergent care. Identified members are Connie Edwards (Chair), Tom Johnson, Bruce Parry, Taalibdin Shabaaz, and Larry Nazimek.
  6. Legislation: Daryl Howard highlighted some of the News Releases from the Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs of the US Department of Veterans Affairs.
  7. Fundraising Committee: A general meeting must be held in April. In addition to elections need to look at the details of the fundraiser that is planned for May 2, 2015, lunch at the Japan Habachi Grill. Committee members are Howard Noey (Chair), Bruce Parry, Virgil Mathis, Curtis Morrow, Rick Murray, Stacy Henderson. All members are asked to get some raffle gift items for the event. Suggestions are to ask local businesses and individuals for donations, members to donate new items they are hoarding, or members to make comfortable purchases to donate.
  8. Awards Committee: Stacy Henderson is Committee Chair. Other members are Robert Mayes, Howard Noey, and Curtis Morrow. David Rogers, Bruce Parry. Please submit names and short bio of persons worthy of recognition with a brief statement of why they should be recognized with an award.
  9. Old Business: Forward Mission of CVO
  10. New Business (Added during the Approval of the Agenda): Francine O’Connor reported on the original mission of the Veterans for Unification and its recent loss of its 501c3 status. She requested the CVO stand in the stead of the organization until they regain their status. VU was the organization that stood for CVO until CVO obtained its 501c3 status. VU will also apply to CVO for membership dues tuition assistance.
  11. Next Meeting: The next meeting will be February 21. Location will be announce via e-mail.
  12. Announcements: None
  13. Adjourn: Nazimek and O’Connor moved and second adjournment as the organization’s business for the month was completed at 1245.

Minutes for November 2014 CVO Meeting

November 15, 2014 Minutes

  1. Call to Order: The meeting was called to order at 1030 at the Jessie Brown Veterans Administration Hospital in the Damon Building with Vice Chair Abundio Zaragoza presiding. The meeting was in order with the Pledge of Allegiance and a moment of silence for those in harm’s way. Coffee and donuts were available.
  2. Roll Call/Introduction of those present : See sign-in sheet.
  3. Mission of CVO: The Mission was read by the Vice chair to establish the focus and purpose of the meeting.
  4. Approval of the Agenda : The agenda was accepted as presented
  5. Minutes of the October 18, 2014 meeting: The minutes was circulated to those present. Motion presented by Nazimek and seconded by Thomas to accept the minutes as presented. Passed
  6. Financial Report:  Printed copies of the financial report was available for those present. The report included the opening balance, deposits, expenditures and closing balance. Nazimek and Thomas moved and seconded a motion to accept the report. Unanimously accepted by those present.
  7. Presentation: Discharge Upgrades by Ray Parrish. More than one hour was devoted to the presentation, questions and answers, and discussion.  A very detail presentation of the problem and steps being taken by the Veterans Administration to reconsider “Bad Discharges” that result in denial of VA benefits and possibly causes some persons who received less than honorable discharges for offenses they committed while in military uniform to have gone deeper into less than desirable states such as mental illness and homeless or suicides. The Veterans Administration now recognizes that underlining reasons for their bad conduct may have been precipitated by then undiagnosed PTSD or other mental health issues and even racism. He passed out notes related to the problem and information that needs to get to the involved veterans about exceptions that may be used in their favor to upgrade those less than honorable discharges. Ray informed the meeting that he is not in a paid position to assist those in compromised positions but he is will to assist the veteran to get into the appropriate chain to begin the work on upgrading a bad discharge. He gave out his home and cell phone number. The cell is preferred (773-791-1174 and e-mail Rayparrish0@gmail.com. David Rogers stated that Operation Upgrade is setting up presentations at the Austin Y facility. Rey noted that exception have been available since the end of World War II under 38 U.S.C CFR 5303 (b) Section 3.354 Determination of insanity for VA claims. Very few upgrades took place and those affected literally gave up after their “rights were stolen from them because bureaucrats thwarted the process because they never wanted to admit that the military did anything wrong” toward the soldier. Though “battle fatigue” was recognized after World War II, PTSD was not recognized until 1981, nearly 10 years after the end of the Vietnam War. Presidents Ford and Carter issued clemency discharge upgrades prior to the PTSD diagnosis became official. However, Congress revoked all those upgrades and required each of those affect to prove their case at discharge review boards and little success resulted. Parrish noted that many people are not aware that there are procedures to upgrade dishonorable discharges and we can help by getting the word out. It should be noted that those affected can ask for service connected health care but not for financial compensation. They need to get their foot in the door and present evidence that a mental disorder was present at the time they committed the offense that got them the bad discharge. There will be no retroactive pay. The latest edition of the DD Form 149, Nov 2012 (Application for Correction of Military Record under the Provision of Title 10, U.S. Code, and section 1552) must be used.
  8. Committee Reports
    1. Homelessness Committee. David Roger reported that outreach will be made to homeless veterans who have bad discharges through the veterans’ outreach at the Austin Community Center. He stated that DePaul University is providing assistance and they are looking to involve multi-faith community and senior centers to adopt a veteran. Rogers extended an invitation to CVO members for visits to the Austin Community Center. Rogers may be contacted at 773-220-4779.
    2. Veterans against Violence. Darryl Howard reported that the committee planned a meeting at the home of Newsome on January 10, 2015 to develop strategies and information to report at the January 17, 2015 meeting.
    3. Veterans Affairs Committee. A new pamphlet is available and the CVO Board of Directors will be asked to approve disbursement from the treasury to prints a supply.
    4. Newsletter: Report was postponed as no committee member was not present to make the presentation.

Old Business: CVO purchased 2 tickets to the Montford Point Marine Association President’s Luncheon. The ticket were offered to be given to 2 of those present. Tickets were accepted by Darryl Howard and Connie Edwards with the approval of those present after no one else acknowledged they wished to attend the affair. Darryl Howard later decided he could not attend and his ticket was credited to Bruce Parry. Edwards and Parry attended the affair.

  1. New Business: No new business was presented.
  2. Next Meeting: January 17, 2015 at a place to be decided later, which was announced in early January as Jessie Brown VAH. The membership voted in October to forgo the December meeting due to the holiday season. The CVO Board of Directors approved the postponement.
  3. Announcements: Abu-Bakr Nurreun reported that One Chicago has access to 160-170 beds for homeless individuals in a building at the 1100 block on Independence in Chicago. The contact person is Mark Carter (312-905-3962). The organization is located at 3414 Roosevelt Road, Chicago. He said the organization wants to hire unemployed veterans to rehabilitate the homes. This will include young veterans with less than honorable discharges and those with a felony background. Contact person for Voice of the ExOffender (VOTE) is Joseph Watkins 312-286-6485.

Chris presented a female navy veteran, Kimberly McGraw, from Mission Continues. She presented a program for young veterans who wish to continue to do work in the community. The organization has 2 goals for the veterans, fellowship and community service. Each member volunteers 20 hours/week for 6 months a not-for-profit organization. Even though they volunteer they get $12.50/hour for the 20 hours/week. She said they have 50-100 members per platoon across the nation. They can provide veterans to assist veteran’s organization events. She may be contacted at kmcgraw@missioncontinues.org and 708-362-4513.

C. Edwards and D. Rogers attended the Muslim American Veterans Association fund-raiser after the meeting.

  1. Adjourning:  With all business completed Nazimek and Rogers moved and seconded that the meeting adjourn at 12 noon. Parking validations were provided for those in attendance and had parked in the VAH parking structure.