November 15, 2014 Minutes
- 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.
- Roll Call/Introduction of those present : See sign-in sheet.
- Mission of CVO: The Mission was read by the Vice chair to establish the focus and purpose of the meeting.
- Approval of the Agenda : The agenda was accepted as presented
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- Committee Reports
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- New Business: No new business was presented.
- 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.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org and 708-362-4513.
C. Edwards and D. Rogers attended the Muslim American Veterans Association fund-raiser after the meeting.
- 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.