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

Mid-Winter Conference 2018

Greetings all,

 

It is time to finalize our planning for DAV Mid-Winter Conference 2018. I hope you are as excited as I am for another great trip to Washington, D.C.

 

As part of the process leading up to our trip to D.C. I am requesting the following information from the chapters/units sending delegates:

 

Name of Member:

 Cellphone #:

 Congressional District/or/Zip Code:

 

Please send that information to me by Tuesday, February 6th, 2018. This information will be used to get your elected officials to attend our DAV of MN Congressional Breakfast on 2/28 and by National to inform members of Congress of your efforts.

 

I would also like to remind all chapters that the Executive Committee did vote to match up to $300 for attendees of chapter contributions. There is nothing saying a chapter can’t contribute a higher amount than $300, just that Department will match up to $300. The training and advocacy for our disabled Veterans and their families at this event directly lines up with our mission as an organization.

 

I hope you will consider joining me in going to D.C. and reminding them to “Keep the Promise”. If you have any questions/concerns I can be reached at [email protected] or 651-788-3186.

 

For your reference, I have attached the previous information sheet to this email. Please forward as necessary.

 

Regards,

 

Trent C Dilks

Legislative Director

DAV of MN

(Below is attachment referenced above)

Planning is in full swing for our DAV Mid-Winter Conference in D.C. and I am hopeful we will have another great showing for the 2018 Mid-Winter. In the past DAV of MN has had participation at a level that has made us stand out.

If you have never been, I highly encourage you to take a look at participating in this important event. Each year there is valuable training, networking, DAV National Commander’s testimony and our DAV of MN Congressional Breakfast.

I think it would be great to see each Chapter represented in D.C. so they can bring that information back to their chapter. If a chapter is able to assist with travel expenses, there are some matching funds available from DAV of MN Department. Please call 651-291-1212 to find out more about the Mid-Winter Matching Funds.
The Details

• Dates: February 25th thru February 28th (Please note we will be hosting our breakfast until 1200pm on the 28th so a later flight or leaving March 1st would be recommended)
• Hotel(s): The event will once again be held at Crystal Gateway Marriott the negotiated rate is $195 and can be reserved in our block here: https://aws.passkey.com/event/49473423/owner/1487/home
o Alternatively, if anyone is interested the “Crystal City Marriott” is attached to the same complex where the conference is held, you can get between the two without going outside. Last time I looked their rates were lower than the negotiated rate at the event hotel. Reservations can be made at: http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/wascc-crystal-city-marriott-at-reagan-national-airport/?pid=CORPYLP&scid=45f93f1b-bd77-45c9-8dab-83b6a417f6fe
• Event Agenda: It can be found at: https://www.dav.org/wp-content/uploads/2018TentativeMid-WinterAgenda.pdf
o Please note this does not include The DAV of MN Congressional Breakfast on 2/28 from 730am until 1100am in the Cannon House Office Building, Room 334. Refreshments will be provided. We usually get 7/8ths of our Congressional Delegation to show up in person as well as key staffers. Please plan to attend.
• Flights: I highly recommend flying in and out of Reagan Airport if possible. Even if the price is slightly higher, it still may be the more economical choice. Dulles (the other D.C. Airport) is not connected to the subway and does not have a free shuttle. It can cost $40-$70 one way to get transportation to the event hotel, so it adds up quickly.
• Transportation: If you fly into Regan there are free shuttles to the event hotel, or the alternate I gave you. It is also only one stop on the D.C. Metro, which is the most cost effective and simplest mode of transportation while in D.C.
• There will be a more detailed information sheet

This is a great event and I hope you will consider joining, or sending some of your members out for the 2018 DAV Mid-Winter Conference.
Please let me know who will be attending this year by sending your contact information to [email protected]

Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions. [email protected] or 651-788-3186.
Regards,
Trent C Dilks
Legislative Director
Disabled American Veterans, Dept. of MN

Mid-Winter Conference 2018

DAV Mid-Winter Conference 2018

Planning is in full swing for our DAV Mid-Winter Conference in D.C. and I am hopeful we will have another great showing for the 2018 Mid-Winter. In the past DAV of MN has had participation at a level that has made us stand out.

If you have never been, I highly encourage you to take a look at participating in this important event. Each year there is valuable training, networking, DAV National Commander’s testimony and our DAV of MN Congressional Breakfast.

I think it would be great to see each Chapter represented in D.C. so they can bring that information back to their chapter. If a chapter is able to assist with travel expenses, there are some matching funds available from DAV of MN Department. Please call 651-291-1212 to find out more about the Mid-Winter Matching Funds.

The Details:

  • Dates: February 25th thru February 28th (Please note we will be hosting our breakfast until 12:00pm on the 28th so a later flight or leaving March 1st would be recommended)
  • Hotel(s): The event will once again be held at Crystal Gateway Marriott the negotiated rate is $195 and can be reserved in our block here: https://aws.passkey.com/event/49473423/owner/1487/home
  • Event Agenda: It can be found at: https://www.dav.org/wp-content/uploads/2018TentativeMid-WinterAgenda.pdf
    • Please note this does not include The DAV of MN Congressional Breakfast on 2/28 from 730am until 1100am in the Cannon House Office Building, Room 334. Refreshments will be provided. We usually get 7/8ths of our Congressional Delegation to show up in person as well as key staffers. Please plan to attend.
  • Flights: I highly recommend flying in and out of Reagan Airport if possible. Even if the price is slightly higher, it still may be the more economical choice. Dulles (the other D.C. Airport) is not connected to the subway and does not have a free shuttle. It can cost $40-$70 one way to get transportation to the event hotel, so it adds up quickly.
  • Transportation: If you fly into Regan there are free shuttles to the event hotel, or the alternate I gave you. It is also only one stop on the D.C. Metro, which is the most cost effective and simplest mode of transportation while in D.C.
  • There will be a more detailed information sheet

This is a great event and I hope you will consider joining, or sending some of your members out for the 2018 DAV Mid-Winter Conference.

Please let me know who will be attending this year by sending your contact information to [email protected]

Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions. [email protected] or 651-788-3186.

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

Legislative Update 12/1/17

Greetings,

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! That’s right, the build up for the MN state legislative session is upon us again (also the holidays). I hope you are all as excited as I am for the upcoming session. We have some very important work ahead of us and I hope you will join me in fighting for our Veterans and their surviving spouses.

The DAV of MN has identified some of our priorities for the upcoming MN session:

  • End predatory lending, often exceeding 100% interest, that is happening illegally in MN. These predatory “loans” take advantage of our disabled Veterans and their widows.
  • Ensure the surviving spouses who are eligible can stay in their homes for life, not some arbitrary 8 years as the law currently states.
  • Increase access to the outdoors by providing low priced opportunities for our disabled veterans to hunt, fish and trap.
  • We also support a full slate of Commanders Task Force initiatives for the upcoming session.

Veterans Day on the Hill has been set for March 12th (Flyer). Please start a conversation with your Chapter/Unit and other organizations (VFW, American Legions, etc..,) in your area to set up a bus for the event. We will have buses coming from across the state and I hope you will join in.

As always, please contact me with any questions or concerns. I can be reached at [email protected] or at 651-788-3186 (email is preferred). Please feel free to forward this message to any who might be interested, I just ask you leave my contact information attached.

Regards,

Trent C Dilks

Legislative Director
Disabled American Veterans, Dept. of MN

 

COLA Increase for 2018 Passed into Law

On November 2, 2017, President Trump signed Public Law 115-75, which provides a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) increase of 2 percent, effective December 1, 2017, for veterans disability compensation and dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC) for survivors and certain other benefits.  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 H.R. 1329-the Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2017, and Congress for final passage of the bill on October 25, 2017.

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.
*From DAV National Email 11/21/2017*

Senate, House Leaders: Legislation to Continue Veterans Choice Program Signed into Law

Isakson, Tester, Roe, Walz applaud signing of measure to ensure veterans have continued access to community care 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Jon Tester, D-Mont., chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, and U.S. Representatives Phil Roe, R-Tenn., and Tim Walz, D-Minn., chairman and ranking member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, today applauded the signing by President Donald Trump of critical legislation to ensure veterans have continued access to health care in their own communities.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary David Shulkin informed the Senate VA committee of an impending shortfall in funds for the Veterans Choice Program at a committee hearing on June 15. In response, Senate and House VA committee leaders worked together to pass the VA Choice and Quality Employment Act of 2017 to authorize and appropriate funding for the VA to continue the Veterans Choice Program and strengthen VA care.

The VA Choice and Quality Employment Act of 2017 passed the House by a vote of 414-0 on July 28, and it was approved by the Senate on August 1.

“I applaud the president for signing this important piece of legislation to ensure that veterans who utilize the Veterans Choice Program will continue to have access to timely appointments in their own communities,” said Isakson. “I thank my colleagues in the House and Senate for acting swiftly to reach an agreement to keep the program intact as we continue our work on broader reforms to strengthen the future of veterans’ health care.”

“This bill will ensure veterans can access critical health care services, whether it’s at the VA or at a nearby community clinic,” said Tester. “It shows what’s possible when we work together, put politics aside, and commit ourselves to honoring those who courageously served our nation.”

“Today is an important day for our nation’s veterans, and I thank President Trump for signing this bipartisan, bicameral legislation into law,” said Roe. “This measure guarantees veterans can continue to access care through the Choice Program while investing in the VA by authorizing major leases and giving the department additional resources to hire and retain top-notch employees. I’m proud of the work being done this Congress on behalf of our heroes, and I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to bring wholesale reform to the VA.”

“Once again, members on both sides of the aisle came together, set aside their differences, and demonstrated their passion for improving the lives of our nation’s 22 million veterans,” said Walz. “A lot of hard work and deliberation went into getting this legislation right for the veteran. As a result, the bipartisan legislation being signed into law today ensures that veterans will be able to seek care in their own community when it makes sense for them, while also making important investments in the VA by expanding the department’s capacity to recruit and retain top of the line physicians and caregivers. I want to thank my friends and colleagues on both sides of the aisle as well as our well-respected veterans service organizations for their commitment to those who have bravely served in uniform.”

In addition to providing critical funding to continue the Veterans Choice Program, the legislation also authorizes 28 major medical facility leases and puts in place reforms that strengthen the VA’s ability to recruit, train and retain their workforce.

The 28 major medical facility leases authorized in the VA Choice and Quality Employment Act of 2017 include Ann Arbor, Mich., Birmingham, Ala., Boston, Mass., Charleston, S.C., Corpus Christi, Texas, Daytona Beach, Fla., Denver, Colo., Fredericksburg, Va., Gainesville, Fla. (two leases), Hampton Roads, Va., Indianapolis, Ind., Jacksonville, Fla., Missoula, Mont., Northern Colorado, Colo., Ocala, Fla., Oxnard, Calif., Pike County, Ga., Pittsburgh, Pa., Portland, Maine, Raleigh, N.C., Rochester, N.Y., San Diego, Calif., Santa Rosa, Calif., Tampa, Fla., Lakeland/Tampa, Fla., Terre Haute, Fla., and Rapid City, S.D.

Full Details 

New Surviving Spouse Property Tax Value Exclusion Info Sheet

 

 

 

*As always, please feel free to forward this message to any who may be interested, all I ask is you keep
my contact information attached. I never trust something unless a person is willing to put their name on
it.*

Greetings DAV Members and Supporters:
I am reaching out today to announce a major victory for the DAV of MN and the Veterans of Minnesota. Gov. Dayton signed a new tax bill at the end of the Special Session, in the bill was a provision to assist the surviving spouses of some of our most seriously disabled Veterans.
The bills we worked on as group, HF 119 & SF 84, is what was included in the Tax Bill. These bills were to allow for a Veteran¡¦s Widow(er) to file a first-time Property Tax Value Exclusion. The bills also contained a provision to expand the $300,000 Property Tax Value Exclusion to any surviving spouse receiving Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) and they may file a first-time application.

Before the session started I sent you all a letter saying with this legislation we were sending a message, it said; ¡§If a Veteran dies directly as a result of their service to this country, we want their surviving spouse protected!¡¨. You all sent that message loud and clear. Hundreds of us showed up for Veterans Day on the Hill, hundreds attended the informational meetings around the state, I testified 6 times with dozens of our members showing their support in room (wearing their hats!).

It was a lot of work, but together with one voice, we made it happen. From idea to law in one session is very rare in the legislative process and we should be proud as an organization, and Veterans community, for this accomplishment. I would also like to thank Rep. Dettmer and Sen. Lang for authoring the bills, to PDC Aguirre for his support and leadership throughout and the service organization in the Commander¡¦s Task Force (CTF) and the members of the United Veterans Legislative Council (UVLC).

You can all be very proud of this accomplishment. However, we have more work to do and the time to start that work is NOW. Attached is a summary of the new rules, please spread the word we only have until August 1st to get these widows signed up for this benefit for tax year 2018. Any question or concerns can be sent to: [email protected]
Regards, Trent C Dilks
Legislative Director
DAV of MN

*As always, please feel free to forward this message to any who may be interested, all I ask is you keep
my contact information attached. I never trust something unless a person is willing to put their name on
it.*

New Surviving Spouse Property Tax Value Exclusion Info Sheet

There have been some significant changes to the MN Disabled Veterans Property Tax Value Exclusion because of the 2017 Tax Bill.
Background

In the past for a widow to be eligible for 8 continuing years of Property Tax Value Exclusion (PTVE) the Veteran must have been rated 100% T&P and receiving the benefit at the time they passed. This meant if a Veteran became ill quickly with a service connected condition and passed away quickly the surviving spouse would be excluded from this benefit.
What Changed

„h Surviving spouses of 100% T&P Veterans are still eligible for 8yrs of exclusion, however, they can now file a 1st time application for the benefit if the Veteran passes away quickly and was not receiving, or had not applied, if they apply within 2 years or by 1 June 2019, whichever is later
„h The biggest expansion is any spouse receiving Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) may now be eligible regardless of the Veteran¡¦s service connection percentage (details below).
o If the Veteran passed away after 12/31/2011.
o The surviving spouse is still living in the same home
o The Veteran was honorably discharged
To get this benefit for tax payable year 2018 the application deadline is 1 August 2017 so please get this information out to any surviving spouse of a Veteran. Free assistance is available from the County Veterans Service Officer(CVSO) and applications must be made to the County Assessor¡¦s Office. You can find contact information for your local CVSO at www.macvso.org
Any question or concerns can be sent to: [email protected]
Regards, Trent C Dilks
Legislative Director
DAV of MN

Legislative Bulletin 7/6/17

 

 

Greetings DAV Members and Supporters:

I have received many inquiries regarding President Trump’s Budget Proposal, specifically two areas of concern are the permanent rounding down of Veteran’s benefits and eliminating 100% Individual Unemployability for Veterans who are receiving, or eligible, for Social Security Benefits.
I would like to highlight the IU (individual unemployability) issue. DAV National has come out against this reduction of Veterans benefits, which would disproportionately affect our Veterans of Social Security age. Many of these Veterans are now on a fixed income and would be negatively impacted by a sudden reduction in their benefits.

In response to such a drastic proposal, many Veterans/supporters have asked how they can effectively convey messages to their Representatives and Senator’s. I always recommend crafting a personal message to your elected officials, drawing on your experiences and/or concerns for the Veterans this would have such a negative effect on. Below are two suggestions on how you can start crafting that message:
Does this issue impact you, or a loved one, personally?

If the answer is yes, I recommend drawing heavily on personal experience.
 You can convey the negative impact this change would have on you, your family, etc…
 The circumstances leading to you being eligible for this benefit.
 The service to your country, in which you earned these benefits.
You are not currently receiving this benefit, but, oppose reduction in Veteran’s benefits
My analysis of this proposal boils down to reducing benefits for elderly Veterans to pay for other benefits for Veterans. This would be a potentially dangerous precedent to set, offsetting the cost of Veterans Choice by reducing benefits for Veterans, could set a precedence that negatively impacts the Veterans community as whole. This means there are no Veterans who should say, “I don’t get IU so this isn’t my fight”.
 You can come out strongly opposed to reductions in earned benefits to pay for Veterans Choice.
 Your letter/email/call can also be based on a defense of our Veterans who are utilizing this benefit.
General Advice on Contacting Your Elected Representatives
Below is some general advice on how to craft a message to your elected officials. These are just some
general pieces of advice, ultimately, do what you are comfortable with.
 Know who to contact, is this a state or federal issue? This is Federal issue so you want to contact
your member of the House of Representatives and your U.S. Senators.
 Stay on message! I highly recommend single issue lobbying. If you are calling, writing or meeting
about Veteran’s issues stick to those issues. Keep each issue separate.
 Keep the person you are speaking, corresponding or meeting with on topic. If they are
supporting something you are opposing they may try to redirect.
 Know your topic and do your research ahead of time. This is especially important in phone or in
person meetings.
 It is good to talk to a staff member. Don’t be insulted if they refer you to a staffer, in fact I advise
requesting a staff member over a specific member. In this case, you want to speak with their
Veteran Constituent Advocate or equivalent (If they don’t have one, ask why?).

You can find how to contact your elected officials at: http://www.gis.leg.mn/iMaps/districts/
I hope this helps get you started on crafting your message to defend the benefits our Veterans have
earned through their service to this country. I am happy to provide further assistance as needed. If you
do make contact please let me know, I like to track the actions our Veteran Advocates are taking. Any
question or concerns can be sent to: [email protected]
Regards,

Trent C Dilks
Legislative Director
DAV of MN

*As always, please feel free to forward this message to any who may be interested, all I ask is you keep
my contact information attached. I never trust something a person is unwilling to put their name on.*

ATTENTION SURVIVING SPOUSE—NEW MN TAX BENEFIT INFO CURRENT AS OF 6/27/2017

Governor Dayton recently signed into law a Property Tax Exclusion benefit for the Surviving Spouses of Military Veterans whose death was caused by their military service.
The benefit: Your County Assessor will remove a value of $300,000 from your homestead taxable value. Your property tax will be reduced for a period of 8-years.

Surviving Spouses qualify if:
 The Veteran died after December 31st, 2011
 The Spouse hold the legal or beneficial title to the homestead and permanently resides there
 The Veteran had an honorable discharge
 The U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs certifies that the Veteran had a 100% total and permanent (T&P) disability
 The spouse applied within two years of the Veteran’s death or by June 1, 2019, whichever is later
There is 1 Exception to the Veteran being rated 100% T&P. If the Surviving Spouse was awarded Dependency & Indemnity Compensation, a.k.a. DIC payments from the VA, and you meet the other qualifications (honorable discharge, death after 12/31/2011, legal residency) you should qualify for this benefit.

To Apply: Contact the County Veterans Service Officer in the County that you live. See www.macvso.org for a complete list of MN CVSOs.

Minnesota state parks and recreation areas offer new benefits for veterans

Active military personnel in any branch or unit of the United States Armed Forces and veterans with a service-related disability are now eligible to receive a free year-round vehicle permit, providing unlimited access to all 75 Minnesota state parks and recreation areas.

These new benefits were proposed by the Department of Natural Resources and approved by state lawmakers during the 2017 Minnesota legislative session (Minnesota Statutes, section 85.053, subdivisions 8 and 10).

“We are grateful to the men and women who have served in the military,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “Providing free access to Minnesota state parks is just one way to thank them for their service and sacrifice.”

To see all of the licenses, permits and passes that are available to military personnel and veterans, and the form of identification that an individual needs to show, visit www.mndnr.gov.

The DNR is recognized as a Yellow Ribbon Company for its support of active and retired military personnel and their families.

“We invite active military personnel and veterans with a service-related disability to come get their free permit over the Fourth of July weekend,” said Erika Rivers, director of Minnesota state parks and trails. “Minnesota state parks and recreation areas offer a firework-free environment for those who want to celebrate the holiday in peace and quiet.”

A list of especially quiet getaways is included in the summer guide on the Parks and Trails website.

For more information, contact the DNR Information Center at [email protected], 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367 (8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday

http://news.dnr.state.mn.us/2017/06/26/minnesota-state-parks-and-recreation-areas-offer-new-benefits-for-veterans/