BLINDED VETERANS ASSOCIATION
FLORIDA REGIONAL GROUP, NC.
3801 Coco Grove Avenue, Miami Florida 33133
NEWSLETTER - NOVEMBER 2005
FRG President’s Message: In the last FRG Newsletter, I explained about the new Distribution List which is now operational. We shall start sending up-to-date legislative information of interest to Blinded Veterans (BV’s) and their families. The Distribution List will enable all Blinded Veterans who have an accessible computer in their homes, to receive this information. To get on the list, send your email address to “email@example.com”. This month, I would like to tell you about sending voice email with your computer, without cost. After learning about voice email, many By’s have been showing an increasing interest in sending email via their computer All non-computer users please bear with us; I assure you that this is the last information on computers for some time to come. Of course, don’t forget every legally Blinded Veteran is entitled to receive a computer through the VA, if that veteran demonstrates the ability to use it after completing an evaluation by Blind Rehabilitation Outpatient Specialists or at a Blind Rehab Center.
The following steps are for key board users. Following are the steps that you must perform. 1. Go on the internet and after the window is up, press control O, and write in the edit field www.jfwlite.com then Enter. 2. When the window comes up, find and Enter on program. 3. After the new window comes up, find “handybits voice mail download, and Enter. 4. Then tab to the run button and Enter. You have now loaded the program and are ready to use the email voice mail.
How to use the voice email. The following steps are key for command. 1. Go to your desktop and locate a icon called “handybits voice mail”, then Enter. 2. The following relates to the JAWS users only. Partials can see the screen and use the mouse. Voice mail is now ready to use. 3. Press your JAWS cursor. Then, arrow up to the tools bar which will give you all of the options play, record, send, stop, etc. 4. After you have found the tools bar, hold down the insert key, then, right or left arrow in order to highlight the button that you need. 5. Press the left mouse button, which will-activate the highlighted item. For example, pressing the record button will allow you to record your voice message. 6. After you have finished with your voice message, just hold down the insert key and move right or left to the selected button. Then press the left mouse button. 7. If you have decided to highlight the send button, after pressing the left mouse button, an “edit” field will come up. It will look just like the normal window you have in Outlook Express. Now, you must return to your PC cursor and follow the prompt. Your voice message will appear in the attachment box. That is all there is to sending a voice message. If there is any question, feel free to call one of the following Officers: Terry King (941) 505-7747, or you may also obtain information through the Computer Users Group.
I would like to close this Message by paying special recognition to the following District Directors for their unprecedented labor during White Cane Walk-A-Thons and the donations that they received. Although Dwight Sayer did not do a Walk-A-Thon, he did some speaking engagements and was extremely successful by raising $3,750. In addition, William Menendez raised $2,305, Mike Toomey raised $ 1,056, and Mike Nagelberg raised $100. All BVs in Florida thank you for your efforts. Terry King FRG Pres.
FRG Auxiliary President’s Message: We are now approaching the Holiday Season and I want to first take this opportunity to wish everyone the very best. Thanks to all of the FRG Auxiliary members, we are giving great support to the FRG BVA to represent us in Washington. The Florida Regional Group is, by far, the largest Regional Group in the BVA and, therefore, is able to reach many Blinded Veterans in our state. That is why we have seven luncheon meetings around the state and hope to have more. We must be active and we must slick together to do our part in helping Blinded Veterans. From what I understand, we have young military personnel, in our own state, who are coming back from theft duties overseas with many injuries, including blindness. We, as Auxiliary members, should take the time to write to them or visit them and encourage them to fight to rebuild their lives. After all, you know what a Blinded Veteran had to go through throughout the thy. I hope that you realize that it isn’t impossible to live a normal life and be successful if they only try. Don’t pity them. They certainly don’t need that. Just give them a smile and encouraging word. You can do it and do it successThlly. This is a strange world, however, we have no choice but to stand strong. I look forward to meeting you in Clearwater on December 3. Joanne King; FRG Auxiliary President.
FRO Meeting Notice: The next meeting of the Florida Regional Group will be held on Saturday, December 3, at the Bill Irle’s Restaurant, 1310 North Ft. Harrison Avenue (US Highway 19 Alternate) in Clearwater. As in the past, this meeting at Bill Me’s is shaping up to be another afternoon of good food, good times, and good friends. Please plan to join us there and renew old friendships and make new ones.
The meeting will begin at 11:30 AM with a period of socializing, followed by lunch at noon. For lunch, you may have either: Baked Boston Scrod or Wiener Schnitzel and Fniit Cup, Salad, Potato, Vegetable, Rolls & Butter, Iced Tea or Coffee, and Dessert. The price of the lunch will be $5 per person including tax & tip. Beer, wine, and mixed drinks will be available for an additional charge.
FRG President Terry King will preside at the meeting following lunch. A National Legislative update will be presented. Information about the FRG Auxiliary and its programs will be provided.
FRG activities for the coming months will be discussed. Representatives from the Department of
Veterans Affairs will be on hand to provide information about services and benefits for Blinded
Veterans and their families.
The restaurant has asked us to notifr them as to the number who will be attending and the choice of lunch desired, by November 30. Please make your reservations prior to that date by writing to Central West District Director Willie Menendez at: 10 Lemington Court, Homasassa, FL 34446 or call Willie at (352) 382-2314. In St. Petersburg, You may call James Spooner at: (727) 347-8042. In addition, you may make your reservations by calling Bay Pines VIST Coordinator Jody Teper at (727) 398-6661 ex 4516 or Tampa VIST Coordinator Charles Nieberding at: (813) 631-7140 or James Bennett in Newport Richie at (727) 372-6022. In Englis call Frank Hennessey at: (352) 447-6461. In Clearwater, call Ben Wells at: (727) 536-1762. It is important for you to make your reservations so that the restaurant may prepare for our meeting.
To get to the restaurant: From Tampa, take State Road 60 across the Courtney Campbell Causeway, continue West to Ft. Harrison Avenue (US Highway 19 Alternate) go north several miles to Bill Me’s. It is a red building on the west side of the street Free parking is available behind the building. From the South, take I 275 across the Skyway Bridge to State Road 60, go west on SR 60 and continue as above. From the North, take US 19 south to State Road 60, go west and continue as above. Please mark Saturday, December 3 on your calendar and join us in Clearwater for an enjoyable afternoon.
Legislative Up-Date: In August, after significant pressure from the Veterans Service Organizations, including the BVA, and testimony from Dr. Jonathan Perlin, VA Under Secretary for Health, Congress passed a $1.45 billion increase to the Fiscal Year 2005 Veterans Health Administration (VHA) appropriation. That was the amount necessary to fund existing VHA services. Although $1.45 billion was needed, the small print in the emergency appropriation, required the VHA to use $550 million of that appropriation for Fiscal Year 2006, which started on October 1, 2005. This required the VHA to not perfonn needed maintenance and to hold up scheduled construction. At the writing of this Newsletter, the government is operating on a Continuing Resolution (CR) until November 18. This means that the government is functioning under the same level of funding in FY2005. Due to medical inflation, this means there has been an actual reduction in funds available. Initially, it appeared that Congress would recommend VHA appropriations necessary to provide existing services. However, Afler the 62 billion authorized for Kairina aftermath finding, there is a move to cut all discretionary funding by 2%. This would require VHA to reduce existing services to veterans. Congress must pass an appropriation bill by November 18 or pass another CR to fund the government until Congress does its job and passes the needed appropriation for FY 2006. As new information is available, it will be reported in future BVA Bulletins and FRG Newsletters.
In the October FRU Newsletter, information was provided on legislation the BVA is sponsoring in Congress 1190 and HR 2579, The Blinded Veteran Continuum of Care Act of 2005. Both of these bills would add 75 Blind Rehabilitation Outpatient Specialists (BROS) at VA medical facilities around the country containing large numbers of Blinded Veterans. S 1190 has been merged into a more comprehensive bill S 1182 but the number of BROS has been reduced to 35 over the next 3 years. S 1182 has been reported out of the Senate Veterans Aairs Committee but has not been acted upon by the full Senate. HR 3579 is still in the House Veterans Afiluirs Committee. It still contains 75 BROS over the next 3 years. To date, Tom Zampiere, BVA Director of Government Affairs, has obtained 22 Co-sponsors for HR 3579 with 19 Democrats and 3 Republicans Michae1 Bilirakis is the only Florida Representative who has agreed to co-sponsor FIR 3579. It appears that the House of Representatives Veterans Affairs Committee may wait until the Senate takes action before reporting the bill out of the Committee. The BROS positions would be most helpful in providing independent living service to Blinded Veterans in their home environment. We urge you to write Senators Mel Martinez and Bill Nelson and urge them to support S 1182. In addition, we recommend you write or call your US Representatives and urge them to support HR 3579 If HR 3579 passes the House in its present form, it would go to a Conference Committee between the Senate and House of Representatives to clarify the differences.
hi addition to the above mention legislation, Representative Lane Evans, Minority Leader of the House of Representatives Veterans Affairs Committee, has introduced HR Concurrent Resolution (HRCR) 235, at the request of the BVA. All 50 states have White Cane Laws which encourage drivers to be vigilant when driving near individuals using white canes or guide dogs. Some states include this information in the Drivers Manual but few have questions on the drivers test regarding the White Cane Law. (HRCR) 235 would request all 50 states to include this information in all Drivers Manuals and on all driver’s tests. Although this measure would not insure that all individuals who use a white cane or guide dog for mobility would be safe, however, it would be a major step in the right direction. All individuals who use a white cane or guide dog for mobility in their communities are aware of the need for such legislation. In the last session of Congress, a similar measure was passed by the House of Representatives but not considered by the Senate. The BVA is starting early in this Congress to get HRCR 235 considered by the House. Tom Zampiere, BVA Director of Governmental Affairs, has obtained a number of co-sponsors for HRCR 235. It will be assigned to the House Transportation Committee for consideration. There are three Representatives from Florida on the House Transportation Committee. They are: Corrine Brown from Northeast Florida, Dan Mica from East Central Florida, and Connie Mack, whose District runs from West Palm Beach to Ft. Myers. It would be most helpful if Blinded Veterans who live in the Districts served by those three Representatives, would write or call those Representatives. Contact your Elections Office to get the telephone number in your area for those Representatives. Tom Zampiere has met with the staff of the Senate Transportation Committee and is working to get a companion bill
to HRCR 235 introduced into the Senate. Unfortunately, neither of our Florida Senators are on the Senate Transportation Committee. Our elected officials listen to their constituents. Your letters or telephone calls will help significantly in getting legislation considered favorably in Congress. The beauty of HRCR 235, is that it will not cost the federal government anything. Further, other than having the material printed in the Driver’s Manual and placed on the driver’s test, it will not cost the 50 states anything. This legislation appears to be a no brainer. However, if the measure is to pass both the Senate and House of Representatives, it will still take considerable effort on our part to get it passed.
Meeting Reminder: Please join us at the next FRG meeting at Bill Me’s Restaurant in Clearwater on Saturday, December 3. Remember to make your reservations by writing to Willie Menendez or by calling the numbers mentioned above, before November 30. If you make a reservation and can’t come, please call and cancel your reservation by November 30. In that way, the FRG will not have to pay for meals not used. Contact your fellow Blinded Veterans and get a group together and join us in Clearwater for an informative and enjoyable afternoon.
December 3 Bill Irle’s Restaurant in Clearwater
January 7 Quality Inn in Ocala
February 4 MacDill AFB Enlisted Club in Tampa
March 4 In Southeast Florida
May 5-7 FRG State Convention in Daytona Beach
August 15-20 BVA National Convention in Buffalo, New York
Terry King FRG President
Joanne King FRG Auxiliary President
George Stocking Editor