Legislature(2017 - 2018)GRUENBERG 120

03/21/2017 01:00 PM House MILITARY & VETERANS' AFFAIRS

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01:02:41 PM Start
01:04:08 PM Presentation: Alaska Forget Me Not Coalition
01:44:51 PM HB165
02:08:04 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Alaska Forget Me Not Coalition Presentation TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Public and Invited Testimony --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
   HOUSE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON MILITARY AND VETERANS' AFFAIRS                                                                  
                         March 21, 2017                                                                                         
                           1:02 p.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Chris Tuck, Chair                                                                                                
Representative Gabrielle LeDoux, Vice Chair                                                                                     
Representative Justin Parish                                                                                                    
Representative Ivy Spohnholz                                                                                                    
Representative George Rauscher                                                                                                  
Representative Lora Reinbold                                                                                                    
Representative Dan Saddler                                                                                                      
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
PRESENTATION:  ALASKA FORGET ME NOT COALITION                                                                                   
HOUSE BILL NO. 165                                                                                                              
"An Act relating to hiring for positions in state service based                                                                 
on substitution of military work experience or training for                                                                     
civilian work experience or training requirements."                                                                             
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: HB 165                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: STATE PERSONNEL ACT: VETERANS                                                                                      
SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) PARISH                                                                                            
03/08/17       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
03/08/17       (H)       MLV, STA                                                                                               
03/16/17       (H)       MLV AT 1:00 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
03/16/17       (H)       -- MEETING CANCELED --                                                                                 
03/21/17       (H)       MLV AT 1:00 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
VERDIE BOWEN, Director of Veterans Affairs                                                                                      
Office of Veteran Affairs                                                                                                       
Department of Military & Veterans' Affairs (DMVA)                                                                               
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Gave a  presentation on the Alaska Forget Me                                                             
Not Coalition.                                                                                                                  
OCTAVIA THOMPSON, State Family Program Director                                                                                 
Alaska National Guard                                                                                                           
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER), Alaska                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:   Offered information and  answered questions                                                             
during the presentation on the Alaska Forget Me Not Coalition.                                                                  
MAGEN JAMES, State Community Support Coordinator                                                                                
Army OneSource                                                                                                                  
Anchorage, Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                    
POSITION STATEMENT:   Answered questions during  the presentation                                                             
on the Alaska Forget Me Not Coalition.                                                                                          
ROBERT EDWARDSON, Staff                                                                                                         
Representative Justin Parish                                                                                                    
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Explained  HB  165  to the  committee,  on                                                             
behalf of Representative Parish, prime sponsor.                                                                                 
DAN WAYNE, Attorney                                                                                                             
Legislative Legal Counsel                                                                                                       
Legislative Legal and Research Services                                                                                         
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered questions regarding HB 165.                                                                     
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
1:02:41 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR CHRIS TUCK  called the House Special  Committee on Military                                                             
and   Veterans'   Affairs  meeting   to   order   at  1:02   p.m.                                                               
Representatives Reinbold,  Spohnholz, Parish, Rauscher,  and Tuck                                                               
were present at  the call to order.   Representatives Saddler and                                                               
LeDoux arrived as the meeting was in progress.                                                                                  
^PRESENTATION:  ALASKA FORGET ME NOT COALITION                                                                                  
         PRESENTATION:  ALASKA FORGET ME NOT COALITION                                                                      
1:04:08 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR TUCK announced that the first  order of business would be a                                                               
presentation by the Alaska Forget Me Not Coalition.                                                                             
1:04:42 PM                                                                                                                    
VERDIE  BOWEN, Director  of Veterans  Affairs, Office  of Veteran                                                               
Affairs, Department of Military  & Veterans' Affairs (DMVA), gave                                                               
a presentation on the Alaska Forget  Me Not Coalition.  He stated                                                               
that the  coalition will  reflect the heart  of the  community in                                                               
serving  active  military, veterans,  and  their  families.   The                                                               
coalition  started  under a  mental  health  and substance  abuse                                                               
grant received  several years ago.   When the federal  funds were                                                               
gone,  the  program  continued   mostly  through  volunteers  and                                                               
through some small funds from the Office of Veteran Affairs.                                                                    
MR.  BOWEN  stated  that  the  vision of  the  coalition  is  for                                                               
Alaska's service members, veterans,  and families to be supported                                                               
and cared  for within their  communities.  He referenced  slide 2                                                               
in a PowerPoint presentation [included  in the committee packet].                                                               
The mission  of the program  is to  educate, inform, and  to link                                                               
Alaskan  communities,   service  members,  veterans,   and  their                                                               
families  to ensure  a healthy  future.   He  explained that  the                                                               
coalition is the  local vehicle that helps  veterans "reach into"                                                               
programs.    Sometimes  in  Alaska,  veterans  and  their  family                                                               
members have  issues.  For  example, the coalition  was contacted                                                               
regarding a  veteran who was  out of stove  oil in the  middle of                                                               
winter and unable to heat his/her  home.  He stated that Catholic                                                               
Social Services (CSS) had received a  large grant and was able to                                                               
help that  veteran right  away.   To reach  some of  the programs                                                               
available, veterans  must know those  programs exist.   He stated                                                               
that  is  virtually  the  role   of  the  Alaska  Forget  Me  Not                                                               
Coalition.   He remarked,  "It allows  us to look  at all  of the                                                               
programs  that  are  out  there  that  provide  services  to  the                                                               
military and the veterans and their families."                                                                                  
MR.  BOWEN  drew  attention  to  slide  3  and  stated  that  the                                                               
coalition's  focus   is  on   community  outreach   &  education,                                                               
statewide   coordination   and   collaboration,   and   strategic                                                               
partnerships.     The   coalition's  structure   is  a   steering                                                               
committee,  with  alliances under  the  steering  committee.   He                                                               
explained  that he  and  Ms.  Octavia Thompson  are  part of  the                                                               
committee.    He added  that  the  [U.S. Department  of  Veterans                                                               
Affairs] (VA)  came out with  a community partnership  called "My                                                               
VA," which  is another aspect of  the coalition.  He  stated that                                                               
under  the  "My  VA"  program, the  coalition  has  extended  the                                                               
service within the program.  He remarked:                                                                                       
     So, if you  come to one of our ...  board meetings, you                                                                    
     will see suicide awareness from  the VA, you'll see the                                                                    
     director from  the local VA  healthcare there,  as well                                                                    
     as several other  members from the VA to  help us reach                                                                    
     into not  only local  community services but  also back                                                                    
     into  the  VA  for  those  ...  [active]  military  and                                                                    
     veterans as well.                                                                                                          
1:08:29 PM                                                                                                                    
OCTAVIA THOMPSON, State Family  Program Director, Alaska National                                                               
Guard,  added that  the [My  VA] program  is part  of the  effort                                                               
brought forth by former First  Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden                                                               
to join community  forces with the National Guard  and the active                                                               
duty services.   It aims to ensure there  are services throughout                                                               
communities,  so when  members  are home  after deployment,  they                                                               
have access  to resources  in central  locations.   However, some                                                               
Alaska  National  Guard  members  might live  in  rural  villages                                                               
without the  same access  to resources.   She remarked,  "Part of                                                               
that joining community forces is  to work with the communities to                                                               
make  sure  that  we  can  get  the  services  to  our  returning                                                               
veterans, as well."                                                                                                             
MR. BOWEN  referred to  slide 4 and  stated that  coalition goals                                                               
are to:  Establish Alaska Forget  Me Not Coalition as the leading                                                               
coalition  on issues  concerning  military,  veterans, and  their                                                               
families;  expand resource  sharing  and  services for  military,                                                               
veterans,  and  their  families  in  rural  Alaska;  develop  and                                                               
maintain functional  website for service providers  and military,                                                               
veterans,  and   their  families;  and  create   and  maintain  a                                                               
marketing plan for coalition activities.                                                                                        
MR. BOWEN  noted that some of  the biggest problems are  that one                                                               
501(c) may do similar work as  another 501(c) or there might be a                                                               
gap in  the services it provides  and someone else might  be able                                                               
to  offer  separate services.    He  explained that  most  501(c)                                                               
businesses are funded through granting authorities.                                                                             
1:10:25 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. BOWEN  listed some key partners  of the Alaska Forget  Me Not                                                               
Coalition found on  slide 5:  Alaska  Legal Services Corporation;                                                               
the  Department  of  Military  &  Veterans'  Affairs  and  Alaska                                                               
National Guard,  Family Programs; the Army  OneSource; the Better                                                               
Business Bureau;  the Employer  Support of  the Guard  & Reserve;                                                               
the  North   Star  Behavioral  Hospital;  University   of  Alaska                                                               
Fairbanks  (UAF) Cooperative  Extension Service;  U.S. Department                                                               
of Labor's Veterans' Employment and  Training Service; and the VA                                                               
Health [Administration].                                                                                                        
MR. BOWEN  explained that there  are specific  alliances designed                                                               
within the  partnership.  The  behavioral health  alliance, found                                                               
on slide 6, has  quarterly, in-person, training opportunities for                                                               
service  providers.   The alliance  tries  to provide  continuing                                                               
education credits  at the highest  accreditation level  to people                                                               
in rural  communities to  keep valid licensing.   He  stated that                                                               
there  are  over 500  free  subject  matter experts  provided  in                                                               
Alaska and  250 free subject  matter experts in  military culture                                                               
training.   He added  that there are  also free  online trainings                                                               
provided by partners.  He noted  that this is provided at no cost                                                               
to the military,  veterans, or family members; it  is provided by                                                               
partnerships.   He  communicated that  one such  partnership with                                                               
the Department of Health and  Social Services has a federal grant                                                               
which provides  free education on post-traumatic  stress disorder                                                               
(PTSD),  military  sexual  trauma   (MST),  and  traumatic  brain                                                               
injuries (TBI).                                                                                                                 
1:12:17 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. THOMPSON  added that  Southcentral Foundation  provided space                                                               
for the  coalition to  offer training,  and over  75 participants                                                               
attended.   She said the event  went very well and  the coalition                                                               
was able to  discuss military culture and  offer understanding of                                                               
what military personnel go through  and how they are economically                                                               
1:13:06 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE REINBOLD indicated that  she watched a video about                                                               
a Navy Seal,  [Anthony] Lembo, who dealt with  PTSD and committed                                                               
suicide.  She said that the  video has had 23 million views since                                                               
September  10.   She  added  that  there  is a  related  website,                                                               
activeheros.org.    She  asked  if   the  Alaska  Forget  Me  Not                                                               
Coalition  can help  this organization.   She  asked if  there is                                                               
anything  the committee  members  can do  to increase  awareness.                                                               
She  said that  the reason  the Navy  Seal committed  suicide was                                                               
because he was  going to lose his security clearance  if he asked                                                               
for help.   She asked whether  it is true that  individuals might                                                               
lose security clearance if they go for help.                                                                                    
1:14:28 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. BOWEN  answered that it was  true in the past.   He explained                                                               
that previously within the military,  if an individual had a high                                                               
security  clearance and  signed  into  mental health  [services],                                                               
then his/her  security clearance was immediately  suspended until                                                               
he/she  completed  [treatment].   Often,  such  individuals  were                                                               
removed from  their work  area and were  put in  a job-controlled                                                               
training environment.   He stated that since that  time, which he                                                               
speculated  was  about  10  years ago,  the  U.S.  Department  of                                                               
Defense (DoD) has taken great  strides to provide services to the                                                               
active duty military and National  Guard to provide them with the                                                               
ability to come out and say,  "I am having difficulties with this                                                               
1:15:26 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  REINBOLD stated  that [Anthony's  death] occurred                                                               
in 2010.  She remarked:                                                                                                         
     If  it  was  10  years  ago,  then  there's  some  flaw                                                                    
     somewhere here in the data.   Also, a lot of people are                                                                    
     posting  boldly under  my  Facebook,  because I  posted                                                                    
     this, and it's  gotten tons of views -  I'm just amazed                                                                    
     - in  the last couple  days.   And they say,  "Oh yeah,                                                                    
     it's still a  problem, and the military  does not treat                                                                    
     people   right."  They   start  questioning   them  and                                                                    
     treating them  poorly if  they say  that they  have ...                                                                    
     PTSD.  So, I really want this to be addressed.                                                                             
MR.   BOWEN   responded   that  he   understands   Representative                                                               
Reinbold's concerns;  he spent  23 years in  the military  with a                                                               
high  security clearance.    He stated  that  he understands  the                                                               
issues of  PTSD and what is  perceived by the military  member as                                                               
well.  He remarked:                                                                                                             
     You have to envision the  culture in which we're raised                                                                    
     in.  First  of all, we're tough; we stand  alone; we do                                                                    
     things  alone.   And so,  a  lot of  times when  things                                                                    
     approach us that are causing  us grave issues, we don't                                                                    
     ask people for  help.  That's one of  the biggest flaws                                                                    
     that we have  within the system, because  the moment we                                                                    
     have a veteran  that has an issue, a lot  of times they                                                                    
     will  not ask  for help.  ... They  won't because  they                                                                    
     take it  as a form of  weakness ....  The  issue is ...                                                                    
     that  you  have to  break  that  culture on  order  for                                                                    
     people to openly come out and say, "I have an issue."                                                                      
MR. BOWEN  acknowledged that this  is a current issue  within the                                                               
military.   He attributed it  to raising a lean,  mean, fighting,                                                               
machine  force;  and  that "force"  admitting  to  having  issues                                                               
because  of something  that happened  during a  deployment causes                                                               
service members stress.                                                                                                         
MR.  BOWEN drew  attention to  a book  about PTSD,  which he  had                                                               
passed  around  to  committee  members,  [entitled  "Tears  of  a                                                               
Warrior:  A Family's Story of  Combat and Living with PTSD"].  He                                                               
stated that his  office provides such books  throughout the state                                                               
to military members  and their family members.   He remarked, "As                                                               
they read through those books,  they discover some of the changes                                                               
that happen,  so they  can identify  whether there's  PTSD that's                                                               
MR. BOWEN explained that individuals  with PTSD who were deployed                                                               
for a long  time - 9 to  15 months - have  trouble when returning                                                               
home.   A lot  of things  have happened to  them, but  they often                                                               
believe that  time has stood  still at  home.  He  counseled that                                                               
when  such  individuals come  home  after  they have  experienced                                                               
personal  changes, they  may have  difficulty reintegrating  back                                                               
into family life.   He offered that their spouses  and the people                                                               
around them  will recognize their  issues, while  the individuals                                                               
believe "that  is the  new norm."   He explained  that it  can be                                                               
difficult to identify PTSD because  the individuals who have PTSD                                                               
may  not know  it themselves  because  of the  other changes  and                                                               
experiences they have had.                                                                                                      
MR.  BOWEN said  that the  book he  passed around  describes some                                                               
issues faced  by the Seahorn family,  and the book is  written to                                                               
be a guide  for veterans.  He mentioned that  the book started as                                                               
a way  for the family  members to  understand what their  dad had                                                               
experienced in  Vietnam.  He  indicated that the  book identifies                                                               
some of the progress and limitations of PTSD.                                                                                   
1:19:45 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. BOWEN  returned to the  presentation, slide 7.   He mentioned                                                               
the   financial/transition/employment   alliance  which   offers:                                                               
regularly   scheduled   employment  fairs;   financial   literacy                                                               
training  programs  both  in-person and  online;  Military  Saves                                                               
Week;  and transition  assistance  programs.   He explained  that                                                               
there  are many  different programs  to try  and limit  stressors                                                               
that  are caused  by transitions  in military  service.   He said                                                               
that as people  transition back to the civilian  world, there are                                                               
many  unknowns.   He offered  that the  coalition aims  to lessen                                                               
stress in  transitions.  He described  that transition assistance                                                               
programs have been successful because they are now mandatory.                                                                   
1:20:58 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SPOHNHOLZ asked what Military Saves Week is.                                                                     
MS. THOMPSON answered  that the event is on the  active duty side                                                               
to raise awareness [of financial  resources], similar to a sexual                                                               
assault  awareness  month.    She  added that  there  is  also  a                                                               
"military saves program" which looks  at financial resources both                                                               
during service and  planning for retirement.   She expressed that                                                               
she  is  working  with  the   National  Guard  Bureau  to  get  a                                                               
contracted  personal financial  counselor to  work with  soldiers                                                               
and  airmen   on  the  new   retirement  system  that   has  been                                                               
implemented.    She stated  that  the  National Guard  Bureau  is                                                               
having  difficulty   recruiting  contracted   personal  financial                                                               
counselors  to serve  Alaska for  the National  Guard and  active                                                               
1:22:49 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. BOWEN  drew attention to  slide 8, which discussed  the Legal                                                               
Alliance.  He mentioned that  the alliance provides legal clinics                                                               
in  Anchorage and  Matanuska-Susitna (Mat-Su)  which have  helped                                                               
serve 85  veterans since  January 2016.   The veterans  served by                                                               
the  clinics are  unable to  pay for  legal fees  and need  legal                                                               
services.    Pro bono  attorneys  across  the state  offer  these                                                               
services to veterans.   He expressed his gratitude  for the legal                                                               
alliance's service  to the board.   He added that there  has been                                                               
support  for  the  National  Guard   and  the  reserve  to  train                                                               
attorneys on  the Uniformed Services Employment  and Reemployment                                                               
Rights Act of  1994 (USERRA) law, so that the  attorneys are able                                                               
to assist those  called on active duty after they  come back with                                                               
any issues with employment.                                                                                                     
1:23:55 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. BOWEN launched  slide 9 addressing the  Faith Alliance, which                                                               
is partnered  with the  Chaplains within  the National  Guard and                                                               
the Partners  in Care  program.   The alliance  networks civilian                                                               
faith  communities  to the  military  community  within and  near                                                               
their  congregations.   It also  provides  emergency services  to                                                               
military  personnel in  need, such  as:  food pantries,  conflict                                                               
resolution, and counseling.                                                                                                     
MR. BOWEN  explained that the  clergy are some of  the front-line                                                               
forces  for  individuals  with  PTSD  to  get  assistance.    The                                                               
chaplains of the  National Guard can train  clergy throughout the                                                               
state on how to best help a veteran with PTSD.                                                                                  
1:24:57 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER  asked if  the military  encourages active                                                               
duty members  to be involved in  a faith community.   He asked if                                                               
it is mandatory or encouraged.                                                                                                  
1:25:25 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  BOWEN  answered  that  there   is  nothing  mandatory  about                                                               
attending  chapel.    He  explained  that  within  the  military,                                                               
chaplains are  assigned different units, and  they provide health                                                               
and  well-being  for  service  members.   He  said,  "It  is  not                                                               
uncommon to  be on  a battlefield somewhere  and have  a chaplain                                                               
show up with a bag of  candy."  He offered his understanding that                                                               
it is mandatory for the  chaplains to visit with service members.                                                               
He  reiterated that  military  people  are not  forced  to go  to                                                               
chapel,  but  it  is  one  program within  active  duty  and  the                                                               
National  Guard that  is easily  identified  by military  service                                                               
1:26:28 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. THOMPSON  added that the  chaplains are pretty much  the only                                                               
people  from  whom  active service  members  can  obtain  initial                                                               
counseling  that is  completely confidential.   Because  of that,                                                               
many soldiers and airmen do use the chaplain in that form.                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER  asked  if   there  are  any  studies  of                                                               
correlation  between  participation  in  a  faith  community  and                                                               
levels of PTSD.                                                                                                                 
MS.  THOMPSON  conveyed  that  there  are  [correlations].    She                                                               
offered  her   understanding  that  as  a   marriage  and  family                                                               
therapist,  a  belief  in  a  higher  power  usually  gives  more                                                               
resiliency and coping strategies for individuals.                                                                               
1:27:19 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR TUCK expressed that HB 100,  in the House Health and Social                                                               
Services  Committee,  would bring  awareness  of  PTSD and  would                                                               
establish a  PTSD Day on  June 27.   He stated that  awareness is                                                               
important.   He  described that  it is  important to  try to  see                                                               
where the faith-based [involvement] helps in recovery.                                                                          
1:28:07 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  BOWEN  moved  to  slide  10, regarding  the  Child  &  Youth                                                               
Alliance, which holds  meetings once a month  and "Family Nights"                                                               
with   the  Alaska   National  Guard.      The  alliance   offers                                                               
information,  referral services,  and collaboration  in obtaining                                                               
grants to  serve military  families.  To  date, the  alliance has                                                               
provided $28,250 to support 4-H  programs for the military youth.                                                               
He  stated that  the greatest  thing is  seeing a  child -  whose                                                               
parent  is  deployed  - at  any  military  installation,  because                                                               
anybody standing close to the child  is called "Mom" or "Dad." He                                                               
remarked,  "Because   if  the  individual  is   deployed,  that's                                                               
something  that   the  child  readily   identifies  with."     He                                                               
emphasized the importance  of caring for those  children as those                                                               
family members are  deployed and finding ways  for those children                                                               
to  release the  stressors  they  have.   He  indicated that  the                                                               
impact  [of  those  stressors]  may   show  up  in  the  form  of                                                               
behavioral issues.                                                                                                              
1:29:40 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. THOMPSON  added that  she is  very proud  of the  active teen                                                               
council in  the National Guard, which  is made of teens  who have                                                               
parents  currently serving  in  the National  Guard.   The  teens                                                               
recently told Commissioner [Laurie]  Hummel their plans and goals                                                               
for  the program.   Ms.  Thompson  noted that  a recent  cultural                                                               
exchange  program  held  in  Bethel  allowed  some  teen  council                                                               
members  a chance  to see  and experience  Western Alaska  and to                                                               
meet children  of other guard  members.   She said the  event was                                                               
amazing.   She  said that  when  the children  in Bethel  learned                                                               
about the event,  the group went from  about 15 to 42  kids.  She                                                               
stated  that  the teen  council  members,  who were  mostly  from                                                               
Anchorage  and  Fairbanks,  learned  how to  cut  fish  and  pick                                                               
berries.  They  made blueberry pie, which they took  to elders in                                                               
the  community, and  they  also  cleaned up  the  cemetery.   She                                                               
emphasized that  the program's goals  were for the teens  to help                                                               
the  community and  learn about  the culture.   She  informed the                                                               
committee that another similar event is planned for this year.                                                                  
1:31:26 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  TUCK stated  that the  "Parents and  Teachers" program  in                                                               
Fairbanks is  very active on the  military bases.  He  noted that                                                               
the "Home  for Heroes" program  has weekly parent meetings  and a                                                               
monthly meeting  with all  the families  involved in  the Parents                                                               
and Teachers  program.   He indicated that  this effort  ended up                                                               
being a  kind of  support group  for the  deployed families.   He                                                               
said  there is  more funding  for pre-K  in the  education budget                                                               
this year, and he hopes that the military uses it.  He remarked:                                                                
      I know that when the military had cut it back for a                                                                       
     little while from federal money, ... when we were able                                                                     
     to make it  back up with state money, you  were able to                                                                    
     see  ... the  night and  day difference  between having                                                                    
     the program and not having  the program.  So, hopefully                                                                    
     we can get that going for you.                                                                                             
1:32:30 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.   BOWEN  drew   attention  to   the  coalition's   web  site:                                                               
forgetmenotcoalition.org.     He   explained  that   the  website                                                               
provides:   resources for service providers  for hiring veterans;                                                               
employment  services for  service members,  veterans, and  family                                                               
members;  and a  calendar of  events  throughout the  state.   He                                                               
indicated that  there is a  big problem across the  nation, which                                                               
is that  many people are  doing wonderful things, but  the people                                                               
who need  help sometimes  don't [hear  about what  is available].                                                               
He  said  if service  providers  are  not  able to  reach  people                                                               
through the calendar,  then they can call the  coalition, and the                                                               
coalition will  reach out to  people in [the  service providers']                                                               
MR. BOWEN summarized that the  coalition offers many services for                                                               
military families  and has great  value.   He stated that  he and                                                               
Ms. Thompson have strategized ways  to keep the program going and                                                               
are applying  for any  available grants.   He offered  his belief                                                               
that the  program has been  blessed by  the many people  who have                                                               
offered to help by signing  three-year agreements to participate,                                                               
including  Chancellor Dean  Case.   He noted  that the  coalition                                                               
started about  five years ago.   Mr. Bowen said that  Magen James                                                               
knows the  most about the programs,  has been one of  the biggest                                                               
advocates for the coalition to date,  and has written most of the                                                               
agreements, work requirements, and alliances.                                                                                   
1:36:38 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. THOMPSON  added that  Ms. James  works for  "Army OneSource,"                                                               
which is funded  by the Office of the Secretary  of Defense (OSD)                                                               
and, unfortunately,  [won't exist  any longer] nationwide,  as of                                                               
August.   She explained  that the work  that Ms.  James currently                                                               
does for the  coalition will fall to Ms. Thompson  and Mr. Bowen.                                                               
She expressed  that they have  a lot  ahead and they  are looking                                                               
for partners within the coalition to  step up and provide some of                                                               
the services currently fulfilled by Ms. James.                                                                                  
1:37:50 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE    PARISH   asked    Ms.    James   whether    the                                                               
discontinuation of the program is a foregone conclusion.                                                                        
1:38:13 PM                                                                                                                    
MAGEN   JAMES,   State   Community  Support   Coordinator,   Army                                                               
OneSource,  responded  that as  a  frontline  employee for  Armed                                                               
Forces Services  Corporation, which  holds the contract  for Army                                                               
OneSource, she  has been told it  is a foregone conclusion.   She                                                               
stated  that the  program manager,  Ms. Yvonne  Glover, has  been                                                               
asking   for  feedback   from  community   members  on   how  the                                                               
elimination  of Army  OneSource  will affect  the activities  and                                                               
community  collaborations.    She  added that  if  the  committee                                                               
members would  like to  submit feedback  to the  program manager,                                                               
they can  e-mail her, and she  will forward those e-mails  to Ms.                                                               
Glover.   She said  Ms. Glover  is actively  working to  keep the                                                               
Secretary of Defense,  the VA Secretary, and  the U.S. Department                                                               
of  the  Army  updated  on  the  community  pulse  regarding  the                                                               
elimination of the program.                                                                                                     
1:39:26 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  REINBOLD commended  Ms. James  for doing  a great                                                               
job  and for  the choice  for  the name  of the  coalition.   She                                                               
expressed that it  was a privilege to hear  the presentation, and                                                               
she  described Ms.  James' having  brought the  book, Tears  of a                                                             
Warrior, as either serendipity or  divine intervention, as people                                                             
have been contacting her about PTSD.                                                                                            
1:40:16 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR TUCK said he received the  book last year from Mr. Bowen at                                                               
PTSI Day,  and he characterized  the book as being  very valuable                                                               
for  families of  returning heroes  who have  seen things  people                                                               
hope to  never see.  He  agreed that the title  of the coalition,                                                               
forget me  not, is  appropriate for the  organization.   He noted                                                               
that  military  personnel  are  doing  great  things  to  protect                                                               
America and when  they return home they are  underrecognized.  He                                                               
explained that  legislative citations are a  good and appropriate                                                               
way   to   recognize   these    hero's   efforts   for   Alaska's                                                               
neighborhoods, communities, and the country.                                                                                    
1:41:53 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  PARISH asked  what lines  of support,  other than                                                               
Army OneSource,  are presently provided to  veterans - especially                                                               
those  dealing with  PTSD or  other injuries.   He  asked if  Ms.                                                               
James  is  expecting a  discontinuation  of  any other  lines  of                                                               
support  currently benefitting  veterans,  and he  asked how  the                                                               
committee can prevent those discontinuations.                                                                                   
1:42:35 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  JAMES answered  that  the Army  OneSource  program does  not                                                               
offer direct  services, but rather  it connects  organizations to                                                               
ensure  collaboration and  build  relationships.   She  expressed                                                               
that a lot  of federal programs are "feeling the  pinch," but she                                                               
is unaware  of any other  programs that  are expected to  be cut.                                                               
She maintained  that is a  good thing  for service members.   She                                                               
characterized that the beauty of the  coalition is that it is all                                                               
about collaboration:  if one organization  is unable to take on a                                                               
pro-bono  case, another  organization can  help.   She put  forth                                                               
that the  coalition may have a  few "bumps in the  road" with the                                                               
elimination of  the Army OneSource  program, but  the coalition's                                                               
strength lies in the 150 partners across the state.                                                                             
MS. JAMES stated  that the partners have worked  together for the                                                               
last  five years  to provide  amazing quantitative  outcomes, and                                                               
with Mr. Bowen and Ms.  Thompson's leadership moving forward, the                                                               
coalition will be fine.   She assured that everyone involved must                                                               
keep a pulse on what's  happening with the federal government and                                                               
trends with  service members, veterans,  and families.   Doing so                                                               
will allow  the coalition  to be  prepared to  proactively handle                                                               
any  emerging issues  instead  of reacting  to  situations.   She                                                               
expressed  that  with  continued  collaboration,  awareness,  and                                                               
mutual support  of programs, the  coalition will be  fine without                                                               
the Army OneSource program.                                                                                                     
1:44:41 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  TUCK   thanked  the  coalition  representatives   for  the                                                               
              HB 165-STATE PERSONNEL ACT: VETERANS                                                                          
1:44:51 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR TUCK  announced that the  final order of business  would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL NO.  165, "An Act relating to hiring  for positions in                                                               
state service  based on substitution of  military work experience                                                               
or   training   for   civilian  work   experience   or   training                                                               
1:45:27 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE PARISH,  as prime sponsor,  presented HB 165.   He                                                               
pointed out  that Alaska  has more veterans  per capita  than any                                                               
other state;  more than  200 veterans return  to the  state every                                                               
month.  He stated that veterans  report that finding a job is the                                                               
main  barrier to  transitioning from  military to  civilian life.                                                               
He  stated that  HB 165  would reduce  the potential  of veterans                                                               
missing job opportunity that they are qualified to fill.                                                                        
1:46:18 PM                                                                                                                    
ROBERT  EDWARDSON, Staff,  Representative  Justin Parish,  Alaska                                                               
State Legislature, explained  HB 165 to the  committee, on behalf                                                               
of  Representative Parish,  prime sponsor.   He  stated that  the                                                               
proposed  bill would  add to  the State  Personnel Act,  which is                                                               
found under  AS 39.25.150.   The  proposed legislation  would set                                                               
procedures  currently used  by the  Department of  Administration                                                               
for  accepting the  substitution of  military knowledge,  skills,                                                               
and  abilities as  qualifying for  state classified  positions to                                                               
meet  minimum qualifications.    The bill  would  also allow  the                                                               
Department  of   Administration  to  establish  a   procedure  or                                                               
regulation   to  substitute   military  experience   for  minimum                                                               
qualifications in some cases.                                                                                                   
MR.  EDWARDSON assessed  that the  bill would  change the  hiring                                                               
process, which involves six separate  stages for state classified                                                               
services:    recruitment, application,  pre-interview  screening,                                                               
interviews, reference checks, and hiring.   He explained that the                                                               
first  three  stages  are where  veterans  may  be  inadvertently                                                               
chased away  for some recruitments.   An agency will  advertise a                                                               
vacant position,  listing the requirements for  the position, the                                                               
desired traits  and characteristics for the  ideal applicant, and                                                               
minimum qualifications.   He expressed that a  veteran may decide                                                               
not to apply for a job  because he/she feels that he/she does not                                                               
meet the minimum qualifications,  although he/she may have traits                                                               
of an ideal candidate.                                                                                                          
MR.  EDWARDSON offered  an example  from  his life  as a  20-year                                                               
coast guard veteran and a state hiring manager.  He remarked:                                                                   
     Kate was  a non-commissioned officer in  the U.S. Coast                                                                    
     Guard.   As  one  of her  collateral  duties, Kate  was                                                                    
     required  to be  a  law  enforcement boarding  officer.                                                                    
     She attended  the maritime  law enforcement  academy at                                                                    
     the   federal  law   enforcement  training   center  in                                                                    
     Charleston, South  Carolina.  She then  completed ... a                                                                    
     rigorous  training  process  at  her  home  unit,  then                                                                    
     performed  numerous  cases  a federal  law  enforcement                                                                    
     What knowledge,  skill, or ability did  this collateral                                                                    
     duty give to  Kate?  Well, in school, ...  in her duty,                                                                    
     she would  have learned  authority and  jurisdiction in                                                                    
     general:     how   laws,  regulations,   policies,  and                                                                    
     procedures,  and  that  sort  of thing  relate  to  the                                                                    
     overall   framework  of   government  interaction   and                                                                    
     government  intervention  into  people's  lives.    She                                                                    
     would have  ... learned  defensive tactics and  the use                                                                    
     of force, which  ... isn't just dressing up  in the red                                                                    
     gear and beating each other  up.  You learn to maintain                                                                    
     effective  working  relationships -  officer  presence,                                                                    
     just how you present  yourself, without speaking verbal                                                                    
     commands  -  and  clear  communication.    She'd  learn                                                                    
     criminal  investigation,  which  for  many  state  jobs                                                                    
     would  correspond   to  research   techniques,  writing                                                                    
     protocols, and  independent adjudications for a  lot of                                                                    
     the  different departments  ... [wherein]  people apply                                                                    
     for  ...  permits  or  they  apply  for  some  sort  of                                                                    
     consideration  somewhere.     People  who've  had  this                                                                    
     experience would be ideal for that.                                                                                        
MR.  EDWARDSON said  part  of being  a  law enforcement  boarding                                                               
officer is being an instructor,  which requires effective written                                                               
and oral communication  and making presentations.   He noted that                                                               
he has  been a  manager in the  Department of  Natural Resources,                                                               
and he compared the example  to a Natural Resource Specialist II.                                                               
He  expressed that  people like  Kate would  not qualify  for the                                                               
job; however, he  offered his assessment that they  would do very                                                               
well in the job.                                                                                                                
1:51:36 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. EDWARDSON stated that the bill  would not take jobs away from                                                               
non-veteran Alaskans, but would  add otherwise qualified veterans                                                               
to  candidate  pools to  be  interviewed.   Currently,  candidate                                                               
pools have  many highly qualified  and capable  non-veterans, and                                                               
HB 165 would  put veterans in the same hiring  pool as other non-                                                               
veterans.   He stated that there  is a zero fiscal  note from the                                                               
Department of Administration.  He  said that regulations would be                                                               
required.    He  conveyed  that the  committee  has  helped  make                                                               
transition easier  for veterans  by filling gaps  in law,  and he                                                               
added  that  HB  165  would  fill another  gap.    He  urged  the                                                               
committee to support the proposed legislation.                                                                                  
1:52:46 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX said that the  bill looks familiar, and she                                                               
asked if a similar bill had been introduced previously.                                                                         
1:53:01 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE PARISH answered, "Not to my knowledge."                                                                          
MR.  EDWARDSON responded  that there  is  a legislative  research                                                               
report  [included   in  the  committee  packet],   which  loosely                                                               
summarizes  related legislation.    He proffered  that  HB 2  had                                                               
already been  through the  committee this  year, and  three years                                                               
ago   a  Senate   bill   assisted   military  members   regarding                                                               
professional licensing.                                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX concluded that the  Senate bill is what she                                                               
was thinking of.                                                                                                                
1:53:40 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER asked if  there is anything that currently                                                               
prevents  a  veteran  from  having  his/her  military  experience                                                               
counted in an application.                                                                                                      
MR. EDWARDSON  answered that the Division  of Personnel currently                                                               
follows  [Standard Operating  Procedure] (SOP)  04, which  allows                                                               
people  to   use  their  military  experience   to  meet  minimum                                                               
qualifications.   He offered his  understanding that SOP  04 does                                                               
not   allow  people   to  substitute   military  experience   for                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER  asked  what  documentation  is  used  to                                                               
verify or document the military training a veteran has received.                                                                
MR.  EDWARDSON answered  that  there are  a  number of  different                                                               
documents  for different  services.   There are  requirements for                                                               
filing  systems,  both paper  and  electronic,  to keep  training                                                               
records.  He  explained that within the Coast Guard,  there is an                                                               
"administrative remark  sheet 3307," which supervisors  often use                                                               
to document certain types of experience  - both good and bad.  He                                                               
added that awards can be used as documentation.                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER asked  whether the  administrative remark                                                               
sheet 3307 is a state or military form.                                                                                         
MR. EDWARDSON  answered that it  is a  Coast Guard form  found in                                                               
the Pay, Personnel, and Procedures manual.                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER offered  his understanding  that DoD  has                                                               
worked to  address this  issue and has  tried to  improve service                                                               
records for  the military resume  to make them  more transferable                                                               
and  comprehensible to  civilian  employers.   He  asked if  that                                                               
effort has had its desired effect.                                                                                              
MR.  EDWARDSON responded  that other  than in  times of  war, the                                                               
Coast Guard falls under the  Department of Homeland Security, not                                                               
DoD directives.   He  said that  over the  years there  have been                                                               
several  "plain language"  writing guides  to reduce  the use  of                                                               
[military] jargon and acronyms.                                                                                                 
1:56:32 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SPOHNHOLZ  asked whether  the intention of  HB 165                                                               
is to  ensure that transferrable  military experience  and skills                                                               
can substitute  for minimum qualifications in  applying for state                                                               
MR. EDWARDSON  answered that is one  of the goals.   He explained                                                               
that the  Department of Administration currently  uses a standard                                                               
operation system  that allows  people to  use military  credit to                                                               
meet  minimum qualifications;  the proposed  bill would  set this                                                               
practice  as law  instead of  policy, making  it unchangeable  by                                                               
policy decisions.   He added  that the intent  of the bill  is to                                                               
allow applicable  military experience  to substitute  for minimum                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE SPOHNHOLZ  stated that she supports  the intent of                                                               
the  proposed  bill  to  ensure   that  transferable  skills  are                                                               
recognized  as important.   She  commented that  there have  been                                                               
clear  examples in  the  past of  translation  problems, and  she                                                               
emphasized the  importance of  ensuring that  military experience                                                               
is  translated in  a  way  that is  understandable  to people  in                                                               
civilian management.  She explained  that she has tried to decode                                                               
what someone's  experience in  the military  meant in  a civilian                                                               
context.   She  stated that  the task  can be  challenging.   She                                                               
mentioned  that she  wants to  make sure  that HB  165 would  not                                                               
allow  "seat  time" in  a  non-related  field to  substitute  for                                                               
actual relevant  skills and  experience.   She asked  whether Mr.                                                               
Edwardson is confident that the  substitution of skills would not                                                               
qualify a  person for a job  for which he/she might  not have the                                                               
MR. EDWARDSON  responded that first  draft of the  bill contained                                                               
"more  meat" than  the draft  by Legislative  Legal and  Research                                                               
Services,  which  he  claimed  is   the  superior  version.    He                                                               
     The way  that it's  drafted allows the  professionals -                                                                    
     the  Department  of  ...  Administration,  Division  of                                                                    
     Personnel  -  to set  those  policies,  to write  those                                                                    
     regulations.   And I think  they would probably  be the                                                                    
     better ones to  answer how you would  avoid doing that,                                                                    
     [to]   ...  make   sure  that   it  is   ...  authentic                                                                    
MR. EDWARDSON  said that after  working with the Coast  Guard for                                                               
22.5 years, he affirmed that the  record keeping is rigorous.  He                                                               
conveyed that research and documentation  is not "puffed up."  He                                                               
said, "Does it  happen?  Perhaps, but I think  it would be pretty                                                               
2:00:39 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  PARISH added  that the  bill stipulates  that the                                                               
military  experience  or  training  should  meet  or  exceed  the                                                               
position  requirements.   He  stated  that  merely being  present                                                               
would  not be  adequate, unless  mere presence  were the  initial                                                               
MR.  EDWARDSON  said that  the  school  mentioned in  a  previous                                                               
example  gives "ace  credits."   He  explained  that the  schools                                                               
often have  third parties  verify the  authenticity and  rigor of                                                               
2:01:44 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SPOHNHOLZ clarified  that  she  is not  concerned                                                               
that people in the military  are not earning authentic experience                                                               
or  that  there would  be  inflation  of  the experience  in  the                                                               
records.  She  explained that her concern is  that the experience                                                               
is clarified and relevant [to the job].                                                                                         
2:02:04 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  asked if "seat  time" means that  a person                                                               
was present and sitting on a seat.                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE SPOHNHOLZ  clarified that she used  the term "seat                                                               
time"  to refer  to the  time a  person worked  or served  in the                                                               
military, but not  [to refer to] the  quality or characterization                                                               
of the work.                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX pointed out that  the statute talks about a                                                               
veteran  or a  former prisoner  of war.   She  asked how  someone                                                               
could be a prisoner of war and not be a veteran.                                                                                
2:03:24 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. EDWARDSON  noted that it  is written that way  multiple times                                                               
within the State Personnel Act.                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX repeated her question.                                                                                    
2:03:42 PM                                                                                                                    
DAN  WAYNE,  Attorney,  Legislative  Legal  Counsel,  Legislative                                                               
Legal and  Research Services,  answered that  he doesn't  think a                                                               
person could be a prisoner of war and not a veteran.                                                                            
2:04:05 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR TUCK proposed that a contract  employee with DoD could be a                                                               
prisoner of war.                                                                                                                
2:04:41 PM                                                                                                                    
VERDIE  BOWEN, Director  of Veterans  Affairs, Office  of Veteran                                                               
Affairs,  Department  of  Military  &  Veterans'  Affairs  (DMVA)                                                               
responded that  it is possible  to be  a prisoner of  war without                                                               
being  a veteran.    He  pointed out  that  when  all the  family                                                               
members  and civilians  that  were held  by  the Japanese  during                                                               
World War  II were  released from  captivity, they  were eligible                                                               
for  the "defense  of the  Philippines medal"  and were  provided                                                               
prisoner of war status and rights.                                                                                              
2:05:22 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE    LEDOUX   offered    her   understanding    that                                                               
international  treaties do  not allow  making a  prisoner of  war                                                               
work.  She  asked how a prisoner of war  could develop experience                                                               
as a prisoner of war without working.                                                                                           
MR.  BOWEN offered  his understanding  that the  experience would                                                               
come before or after their prisoner  of war status.  He said that                                                               
a lot  of things are  written in international treaties  that are                                                               
violated when people  become prisoners of war.   He remarked, "We                                                               
don't have to go far back in time,  we could just go to the Hanoi                                                               
Hilton  and think  of what  those prisoners  of war  went through                                                               
during their  time there."   He mentioned  his belief  that after                                                               
the first gulf  war there were prisoners of war.   He offered his                                                               
recollection  of seeing  a  female major  speak  before the  U.S.                                                               
Senate  about  the issues  she  experienced  during her  time  in                                                               
captivity.    He  explained  that   there  had  been  expeditious                                                               
violations of the Geneva Convention.                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  conveyed her belief that  prisoners of war                                                               
have  gone  through  horrendous   experiences.    She  questioned                                                               
whether those experiences translate to civilian jobs.                                                                           
MR. BOWEN responded that he would  not know how to translate that                                                               
experience either.                                                                                                              
2:07:33 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR TUCK announced that HB 165 was held over.                                                                                 
2:08:04 PM                                                                                                                    
There being no  further business before the  committee, the House                                                               
Special Committee  on Military and Veterans'  Affairs meeting was                                                               
adjourned at 2:08 p.m.                                                                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
Alaska Forget Me Not Coalition Presentation to MLV Cmte 3.21.17.ppt HMLV 3/21/2017 1:00:00 PM