BLINDED VETERANS ASSOCIATION (BVA)
FLORIDA REGIONAL GROUP, INC.
3801 Coco Grove Avenue
Miami, Florida 33133
NEWSLETTER - February 2004
FRG President's Message: In less than 3 months, the Florida Regional Group will be holding its annual State Convention, (April 30-May 2) in Daytona Beach Shores. We are currently planning the program and arranging for speakers. We are also planning on having some distributors at the Convention displaying some of the new technology items that have evolved recently for making the lives of blind and visually impaired people safer and easier. After all of the details have been worked out for the Convention, Dr. George Stocking (Secretary and Newsletter Editor), will be sending out a special Newsletter. Now is the time to mark your calendar and start making plans for attending our annual State Convention.
I have recently been reading a newsletter the Florida Division of Blind Services puts out once a month. I am finding it to be one of the most informative newsletters that I have ever come across. It covers articles not only about what is happening in Florida but also throughout the nation. It contains articles about employment opportunities, new technology, reports on blind people who have opened up new job opportunities, basic schools, special training schools, many new innovations for the prevention of blindness, new surgical procedures, and articles from the American Council of the Blind and the National Federation of the Blind. The foregoing are only a few of the articles I have run across. Currently this newsletter is on the DBS web site. For computer users, they pull up the wed site by going to: http://fcn.state.fl.us/dbs/<<Florida Division of Blind Services,DOE.url>>. This is the DBS home page. Along with many other links of interest, you will find their newsletter link. I am currently exploring the possibility of having this DBS newsletter circulated by the Talking Book Library. I guarantee that it will be worth your time to explore and read some of the articles on "Eyes on DBS" newsletter.
There is one more piece of information of which I would like for you to be aware. That is, even if you are eligible for services from the VA, you are also eligible for services through the Division of Blind Services. If anyone is interested in the many services for which the DBS is responsible, they may call the DBS toll free number at: (800) 342-1828. There are 12 DBS Districts in Florida. Therefore, by calling the number above, you can be given the number for your District Office. You may also call me for additional information at (941) 505-7747 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is one more item that you might find of interest for those of you who are computer users. I am talking about the Computer Users Group that has been operational for some time. It has been extremely valuable for veterans who are using JAWS, Zoom Tech, or other adaptive programs and have some minor difficulty from time to time For further information, see Paul Kaminsky's article later in the Newsletter or contact: Paul at: (904) 573-8839. Terry King, Florida Regional Group, President.
FRG Auxiliary President's Message: At our Ft. Myers luncheon, we signed up two new FRG Auxiliary members and in Ocala we also signed up two more new members. Do you thing that we can sign up four more before the State Convention? I think so. It is very important to be a member of the Auxiliary because our main purpose is to support our Blinded Veterans. A lot has been done for the Blinded Veterans since the beginning. By supporting them, we are benefiting too. Did you know that there are two health care programs available for veterans? CHAMPUS (Tri Care) is available to the spouse and minor children of retired military personnel; CHAMPVA is available to the spouse and minor children of 100% service connected veterans. On a space available basis, these dependents can receive medical treatment at VA medical facilities. I have always had CHAMPVA and never had a problem with it, unlike some insurance companies. Did you know that the VIST Coordinators hold support group meetings for the families of Blinded veterans? Check out the web site for the Blinded Veteran and learn about much more. Go to WWW.VA.gov. Thanks to many people, who are always promoting the welfare of the Blinded Veterans, we are also the beneficiaries. So, do yourself a favor and be part of the group and spread the word to your friends to join the Auxiliary. Dues are only $10 for the National BVA Auxiliary and $5 for the FRG Auxiliary. Contact our FRG Auxiliary Treasurer, Peggy Toomey at: 6955 Awawa Court, Northport, Florida 34287. We even had a spouse in Ocala who was interested in applying for one of our FRG Auxiliary Scholarships. Our scholarships are not only for the children of Florida Blinded Veterans but also for spouses. I know many women who decide to go back to school or start a career after their children are grown. Why not you? So if you want to go into nursing or create your own business, etc. see the Scholarship article later in this Newsletter. I would also like to remind you that reservations will be starting for rooms in Daytona Beach Shores for our annual FRG Convention. It is a wonderful place to meet friends, new and old, relax and most important, it is very informative. Start now and form a group to come together. Bring someone that has never come before. I know that they will enjoy themselves. See you there if not before in Pompano Beach. Joanne King, FRG Auxiliary President.
FRG Meeting Notice: The next meeting of the Florida Regional Group will be held on Saturday, March 13th, at the Elks Lodge, 700 N.E. 10th Street in Pompano Beach. The meeting will begin at 11:30 AM, with a period of socializing, followed by lunch at noon. For lunch, you may select from Roast Beef or Chicken Marcella and Salad, Potatoes, Vegetables, Rolls and Butter, Iced Tea or Coffee, and Dessert. The price of the lunch will be $5 per person, including tax and tip. Beer, wine, and mixed drinks will be available at an additional charge.
FRG President Terry King will preside at the meeting following lunch. Melanie Fraim, WPB VAMC Blind Rehabilitation Outpatient Specialist, will be Guest Speaker. A national legislative up-date will be provided. Plans for FRG activities for the coming months will be discussed. This will be your opportunity to make suggestions and recommendations regarding these FRG activities. Staff from the Department of Veterans Affairs will be on hand to provide information about services and benefits of interest to Blinded Veterans and their families. Information about FRG Auxiliary activities will be presented.
The restaurant has asked us to notify them as to the number who will be attending and the type of meal desired by March 9th. You may make your reservations by writing to Paul Mimms, FRG Southeast District Director at: 8069 Via Hacienda, West Palm Beach, FL 33418 or call Paul evenings or weekends at: (561) 863-1407. You may also make your reservations by calling: Trudy Rothenberg, Miami VAMC VIST Coordinator, at (305) 324-4455 ex 3607; Bob Gross, Oakland Park VAOPC VIST Coordinator, at: (954) 229-7791; Amy Jensen, West Palm Beach VAMC VIST Coordinator at: (561) 882-8262 ex 5260. Please be sure to make your reservations as the restaurant needs this information in order to plan properly for our meeting.
To get to the Elks Lodge, take I 95 North or South to Atlantic Blvd. Go East to Dixie Highway, then turn North. Go 10 blocks to N.E. 10th Street. Turn right, the Elks Lodge will be on the right (South) side of the street. Parking is available adjacent to the building. Attempts are underway to provide limited transportation from West Palm Beach and Miami. For information contact VIST Coordinators Amy Jensen or Trudy Rothenberg. Please mark March 13th on your calendar and make plans to join us for an enjoyable and interesting afternoon. We look forward to meeting you there.
BVA Computer Users Group: Hi! Paul Kaminsky FRG Northeast District Director here, moderator of a small Blinded Veterans computer users email list. The Computer Users Group began on August 9, 2001 with 9 members from the Jacksonville VA Outpatient Clinic. Two BVA members, Doug Cram and Mike Taylor had been discussing the idea with the VIST Coordinators from Jacksonville and Gainesville and the BROS from Gainesville. The VIST AND Bros approached me with the idea to somehow assist in providing a follow on training assistance program for graduates of the VA BRC Computer Access Training (CAT) Program. We had our first meeting at the Jacksonville OPC and turned in our email addresses and were off and stumbling.
The group is essentially an email subscription list. A list where new, as-well-as, experienced low or no vision computer users can share computer soft ware experiences, questions, and suggestions. It is a free, easy-to-use email group service. Vice emailing group related topics to a single focal point, (me), this group format enables all group members to post their emails for all group members to review. Thereby allowing all members the ability to provide immediate response, without having to go through the group's leader. Utilizing this method has helped us bring the VA's Blind Rehab Centers (BRC) into our group's circle, by adding BRC instructors as group members.
It has proven over time to be an easy-to-use vehicle. All recipients receive the same identical message, and when they "Reply" to that message, the reply is automatically sent to each member of the group. Another nice thing about this group system, any member may opt out at any time without having to go through anyone. It is as simple as sending an "unsubscribed" email, which is explained at the bottom of all email messages. How's it work? I have established what is called an email group , through yahoo-groups. I'm registered as the moderator, which means I manage the administration of the group. The key to the whole thing is the email address. One address fits all. Then the group members can address all email to the following address, which is: email@example.com. The email is then sent to yahoo -groups, and from there automatically forwarded to all subscribed members of the email group. If someone wants to respond to the senders email, with a fix or comment, it's a simple "REPLY" and "SEND" action. The reply goes back to the yahoo group site where it is once again forwarded to all the subscribed members.
It began with just Blinded Veterans who were graduates of the Blind Rehab CAT Program but soon evolved to where the only requirement is to be a Blinded Veteran with access to the internet. The topics covered mostly relate to JAWS, Zoom Text, Open-Book, Text Assist, and other related, meant for vision impaired, computer soft ware programs, operating systems, or techniques used to enhance the utilization of a computer in order to compensate for visual acuity deficiencies. You can discuss any aspects of these topics. The goal is to eventually enable group members the ability to utilize their computers more effectively.
The Group's guidelines. Request members to refrain from sending or forwarding commercial post or jokes to the list. The intent is to try and maintain an advertisement/joke free place, and to the most part that objective has not been met. The group adopted rules which are referred to as "Road Rules" though the biggest and most important rule of all is to be nice to everyone on the list. If everyone follows this rule, everything else will fall into place. The system has set up an attempt to make it user friendly, helpful, and a place where everyone will feel comfortable asking questions. The group's homepage can be found at: http://www.blindveterans.cc.
To learn more about the Blinded Veterans' Computer Users Group, please visit http://groups.yahoo.com/groups/bvcugnf. If you wish to belong to this group, you may subscribe by sending an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org or simply send me an email message to: email@example.com and I can manually subscribe you to the email listing. Happy computing trails to you all. Paul Kaminsky, FRG Northeast District Director
FRG Auxiliary Scholarship: The FRG Auxiliary will offer two $1000 scholarships to the spouse or child of Florida Blinded Veterans for the 2004-2005 school year. These scholarships are not available to grandchildren. Individuals who have applied previously may apply again but must submit a new application. The scholarship is merit based and may be used for college, university, vocational or trade school training. For information and/or an application contact Scholarship Chairperson Trudy Rothenberg, VIST Coordinator 11-C, VAMC, 1201 N.W. 16th Street, Miami, FL 33125 or call Trudy at (305) 324-4455 ex 3607. Completed applications must be received by April 15, 2004.
Please join us at the Elks Lodge in Pompano Beach, Saturday, March 13th. Remember to make your reservations by March 9th, so that proper arrangements may be made for the luncheon.
Calendar of Events
March 13th FRG Meeting at the Elks Lodge in Pompano Beach
April 30 - May 2 FRG State Convention in Daytona Beach Shores
August 10-14 BVA National Convention in Reno, Nevada
Terry King FRG President
Joanne King FRG Auxiliary President
Paul Kaminsky FRG Northeast District Director
George Stocking Editor