Adjutant Dilks Receives Award

It is a great honor to announce that DAV MN BPTL – Trent Dilks, was selected by DAV National Legislative Director as the Division II Outstanding Performance in Advocacy. As you all know, Trent has done an outstanding job at advocating on behalf of the disabled veterans and their spouses, not only for State of MN issues but for National issues as well. Keep up the great work Trent!!

Stephen “Butch” Whitehead, DAV National Commander

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Veterans Day on the Hill 2020

Greetings all;

I am happy to announce we are currently scheduled to have Veterans Day on the Hill (VDOTH) 2020 on April 20th, 2020. I am well aware this is the latest date to hold the event since I have been involved with the planning, and I want to assure the setting of a date was not without reasons:

  1. This is the session leading up to an election, I fully suspect that the pace will go something like this: Initial committee work, two months of issues based politicking to appeal to elected official’s base, final weeks to complete the work necessary and govern.
    1. The later date is partially based on my belief that the combined efforts of the Veteran’s community can push our supported legislation through the first couple of stops in the committee process which is the first part of how I suspect the session will go.
  2. Historically, interest in the process has been high early on when the path for bills is relatively predictable; original committee, subsequent committee, etc.. with regularly scheduled committee hearings. However, once the process starts to “breakdown” into legislation being “held over for possible inclusion”, entire bills become small parts of a ‘monster’ omnibus bill, etc.. it becomes hard to explain the process, difficult to coordinate responses, and our advocacy suffers as a result at the most important times.
    1. A later date will allow for a clear statement of current position in the most confusing part of the process.
  3. We can focus our advocacy on the bills that actually have a chance. It’s harsh to say, but many of our groups will support many pieces of legislation but the honest truth is very few of them have a chance based on the priorities set during the session.
  4. As a community we can make it clear that by holding Veterans Day on the Hill this late we would gladly make it into a celebration if our elected officials get their work done for Veterans within the first three months of session. If they decide to keep Veteran’s issues moving, and above the predictable partisan fighting, they can all enjoy a day of being cheered for a job well done.
  5. However, if the more likely scenario happens where politicking is taking the place of progress, this later date will have us positioned to make a strong call for our officials to “Get it DONE for our Veterans” (or some better tagline).
  6. This is Minnesota and the weather can suck earlier in the session.

Additional details will emerge as the CTF, UVLC, and MACVSO work toward their vision of the formal VDOTH proceedings. The DAV MN does intend to offer funding busses and providing a lunch prior to the formal event again this year. Details will be shared as they become available.

Please feel free to reach out me with questions or concerns. The gavel will drop before we know it and it is important we continue to work together for our Veterans.

Regards,

 ———–

Trent C Dilks

Department Adjutant  

Disabled American Veterans, Dept. of Minnesota

20 West 12th St., 3rd Flr, St. Paul, MN 55155

O: (651) 291.1212 C: (651) 788.3186

Cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) Increase for 2019 Passed into Law

On October 9, 2018, President Trump signed Public Law 115-258, which provides a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) increase of 2.8 percent, effective December 1, 2018, for veterans disability compensation and dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC) for survivors and certain other benefits.

VA compensation and DIC benefits are retrospectively paid on the first of each month, for the previous month. This means that the 2.8 COLA increase effective December 1, 2018, will not be included until the January 1, 2019 payment.  This increase matches the COLA provided to Social Security recipients.

This COLA benefits injured and ill veterans, their families and survivors by helping to maintain the value of VA benefits against inflation. Without annual COLAs, many disabled veterans, who sacrificed their own health and family life for the good of our nation, may not be able to maintain the quality of life they deserve.

We thank Representative Mike Bost (IL), Chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs for introducing HR 4958, the Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2018 and Congress for final passage of the bill on September 25, 2018.

Likewise, we appreciate your support for service-disabled veterans and your grassroots efforts in the DAV Commander’s Action Network, which helped get this critical legislation enacted.  Please share this information on all of your social media sites. Thank you for all you do for America’s veterans and their families.

This alert is for your information only. No further action is required at this time.

H.R. 5671, The Burn Pits Accountability Act

On May 1, 2018, Representative Tulsi Gabbard (HI) introduced H.R. 5671, the Burn Pits Accountability Act.

Since the Persian Gulf War, a common waste disposal practice at military sites outside the United States was the use of burn pits.  Smoke from these pits contained toxic substances that may have short- and long-term health effects, especially for those who were exposed for longer periods.  Many service members reported acute symptoms of respiratory or eye irritation, gastrointestinal distress, or rashes during or shortly after exposure, but the research thus far has been inconclusive about whether there are longer lasting consequences to these exposures, as many veterans still struggling with conditions that arose during or after military service believe.

H.R. 5671 will require the Secretary of Defense to ensure that periodic health assessments ascertain whether a service member has been at a location when an open burn pit was used or exposed to toxic airborne chemicals.  It will further require the Secretary of Defense to enter into an information sharing agreement with the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.  If a service member was exposed, the VA Secretary will enroll the member into the VA Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry, unless the member elects not to enroll.

In agreement with DAV Resolution No. 120, DAV supports H.R. 5671-legislation that would ensure that exposure to burn pits and airborne chemicals are recognized by both the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.

Your commitment and advocacy helps make DAV a highly influential and effective organization in Washington.  Thank you for all you do for America’s veterans and their families.

Take Action

Taking Action Request ONE

DAV MN Taking Action 2018

This is the 1st request as a part of the DAV MN “Taking Action 2018” campaign. This campaign is designed to present briefly and clearly current situations and ways you can “Take Action”. These actions are designed to take less than 5 minutes. The purpose of this campaign is to improve the lives of our Veterans, and their families, by achieving our legislative goals.

Background: This year the DAV MN set two legislative goals:

  • Protect our most vulnerable Veterans and surviving spouses from predatory lenders.
  • Ensure surviving spouses can remain in their homes.

Situation: The bills in the MN House and Senate to successfully achieve these goals survived the legislative deadlines. However, it has been over a month since they have gotten a hearing and their failure looks likely, unless we take action.

How you can “Take Action” today: Call you State Representative and State Senator and tell them,

“I fully support HF 3429/SF 3261 (if talking to House member use HF & Senate-SF) to keep the surviving spouses of our severely disabled Veterans, and spouses of those who died as a result of their service, in their homes. I would like to see this bill moved quickly to the floor for a vote. Please do everything within your power to ensure that happens and notify me when it has passed.”

Logistics: If you don’t currently have the contact information for your MN Representative or MN Senator you can find the information here: https://www.gis.leg.mn/iMaps/districts/ *Please note leaving the message with their Legislative Assistant or Voicemail is just fine. They will get the message.

Please drop me a note after you take action so I can track our efforts. I can be reached at: [email protected].

Please forward this to anyone you feel may be willing to take action.

Regards,

Trent C Dilks
Legislative Director
Disabled American Veterans, Dept. of MN

Legislative Questions 3/20/2018


I am so glad to have these questions. The answers I have provided are a little long, but I think well worth the read:

What is the current situation for widows of 100%ers regarding the extension of the homeowners $300,000 exemption? Also asked, Is the DAV and any other Veterans organizations trying to get this to lifetime of the widow?

It has been a clear priority for the DAV MN over the past several years to expand eligibility and amount of time for surviving spouses for the property tax value exclusion. I worked last year, in my position with DAV MN to help draft, push and see signed into law HF 119 & SF 84 which now allows EVERY widow who becomes eligible for DIC (Dependency Indemnity Compensation), the monthly payments to a Veteran’s widow(er), can now apply for the property tax value exclusion.

I would note this is regardless of the Veterans rating, or exclusion eligibility, prior to death. An example: Veteran A is service connected for a condition at 60% (so not eligible for property tax relief). Veteran A passes away and the cause of death is, or closely is, related to or a result of that condition. If the surviving spouse files a claim with their representative (CVSO, etc..) and is awarded DIC, they should now be eligible for the property tax value exclusion as if the Veteran were 100% prior to death.

As to the question of what is being done to eliminate the 8-year limit on this benefit, several bills have been introduced this session to address that. The DAV MN is encouraging our members and partner organizations to throw all of their support and efforts behind supporting HF 3429 & SF 3261.

Why HF 3429 & SF 3261?

These bills would make the benefit for the lifetime of the widow(er).
These bills would create a one-time transferability of the value exclusion for the widow(er) into a house of equal or lesser taxable value. Which is significant because that means instead of this being an extension of the Veteran’s benefit, this would be an independent benefit for our surviving spouses.

These bills would correct a problem best explained by another example: Veteran A is awarded 100% July 15th, 2018. Veteran A has missed the application deadline for the 2019 property tax relief and now must wait to apply in 2019 to gain access to this benefit in taxes payable year 2020 under the current law. These bills would correct that. There would still be a deadline for those connected prior to the deadline, but, an exemption for the application of those who are rated after that deadline.

It is my opinion these companion bills introduced by Rep. Dettmer and Sen. Anderson are significant improvements to the current law and should gain our full support.

What can you do?

These bills are both waiting to be heard in the Tax Committee of their respective chambers. Contact your State Representative and State Senator and let them know, “I fully support HF 3429 & SF 3261. Please do everything within your power to ensure they are heard as soon as possible and sent to the floor instead of being held over for future consideration.” Of course, put that in your own words and adjust as you see fit.

Not sure how to find your State Representative or Senator’s office number?

Click here and fill in your residence information: https://www.gis.leg.mn/iMaps/districts/

Is anyone working on raising the $300,000? Seems that property values have gone up significantly since the $300k was set. Should be higher with the increases. Could increases be tied to one of the CPI indexes or some real estate indicator?

I do not currently have a member supported resolution to pursue raising the 300k level. I would note the current median sales price (typically higher than taxable value) in Minnesota is in the neighborhood of $180,000 and the median value estimated somewhere around $160,000, depending on whose numbers and from when.

This may seem like a bum deal for the Veterans who have $450,000 houses, but, I would also remind them they are only paying as if the value of their home was $150,000 or below median value. The optics on pursuing an overall increase on the value of the homes would be challenging. While we know in some of the higher priced real estate markets $450,000 for a home is not the same as in rural Minnesota, it is far too easy for someone to circulate a picture of one of the greater Minnesota homes and really smear any possible attempts.
I am only pointing out the potential challenges to an effort. If a Chapter would like to put a resolution forward and it is supported by our members in Convention, I will put my full effort into making it happen.

As always, I can be reached at 651-788-3186 or [email protected] with any questions, concerns or gripes.
Regards,
Trent C Dilks
Legislative Director
Disabled American Veterans, Dept. of MN

Veterans Day on the Hill 2018 – THANK YOU!

Greetings,

I would like to take a moment to thank all of our Veterans and supporters who traveled to St. Paul yesterday to a be a part of Veterans Day on the Hill 2018. The turnout was amazing and it sent a clear message that we as a Veterans community are engaged and paying attention. It was nice to see all of the service organizations, cvso’s and other groups working together towards one goal.

Buses arrived at the Capitol from across the state with some of our Veterans starting their journey’s at 3 am to make their voices heard. The dedication of our Veterans and supporters is truly inspirational and they made their voices heard loud and proud.

This was an amazing effort and to see it all come together was terrific. The day was a success and now it is time to turn our attention to the remainder of session. We have work to do, important work. Let’s build on our momentum and turn this into a successful session.

If you have any questions, would like an update or visit please contact me at [email protected] or 651-788-3186.

Regards,

Trent C Dilks
Legislative Director
Disabled American Veterans, Dept. of MN

 

DAV MN Goes to Washington

Minnesota DAV Members with Senator Tina Smith

This past week the DAV MN sent a delegation of 18 members out to Washington, D.C. to learn and advocate. Once again, the event was a success! The members in attendance were able to learn more about our legislative priorities nationally, who we are as an organization and put that knowledge into action with meeting with Representatives and Senators.
The even kicked off with training sessions at the conference. These ranged from a three-hour in-depth look at what we are advocating for and what the status is of our priorities. The subject matter can be dry, but the DAV National Legislative Staff did an excellent job of explaining the current situation.

Beyond explaining the current situation, this meeting focused on building a strategy for moving forwards. While there are many intricacies involved I saw it really boil down to two things: We must organize and we must act. If we can find new ways to get this information and identify the members of our community with a passion for these issues, we can be successful.

The training was followed up by a group of our members going to The Hill to meet with the staff of each member of the House of Representatives from Minnesota. It was a LONG day but we got it done. During these meetings we gave the staffer an opportunity to let us know what their member was working on for Veterans (some a lot, some very little). We also presented them with a list of vital legislation that we would like to see their member “sign-on” as a sponsor.

The meetings with staff are a valuable part of this trip, often we get fixated on the Reps. and Sen.’s themselves, when much of the work is done by staff members. This was also a great opportunity to see where each member had Veterans on their unofficial “priority list”. If you were to ask them in person they would all say something along the lines of, “Veterans are a top priority”. However, when you sit in their office and ask for their list of work for Veterans and see it is long, short or even non-existent it can tell you a lot.

I will not be sending out an office by office evaluation of what, if anything, these Congressmen/women are working. I do strongly encourage you to reach out the offices of those that represent you and find out what side they are on (doing something versus saying something). That is a major step in how we will become more effective as an organization in holding our politicians accountable.

The MN DAV members then attended DAV National Commander’s testimony before a joint session of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees. The turnout was terrific with the room being overfilled with DAV members from across the country. It was beyond standing room only. When we can get that kind of involvement we send a powerful message to those in D.C.

The final event was our annual DAV Congressional Breakfast which we hold each year in one of the rooms used by the House of Representatives. Unfortunately, scheduling was all thrown off as Rev. Billy Graham was laying-in-state that day. We were able to meet with Sen. Smith, Rep. Peterson, Rep. Emmer and Rep. Paulsen. This was a great event and I hope more of our chapter’s will choose to send delegates in the future. If you have any questions, or would like to schedule a time for me to brief you chapter on State and/or
National issues I can be reached at 651-788-3186 or [email protected]

You can sign-up to receive alerts on important Veterans issues at: https://www.dav.org/learnmore/legislation/join-action-network-take-action/

Regards,
Trent C Dilks
Legislative Director
Disabled American Veterans, Dept. of MN