BLINDED VETERANS ASSOCIATION
FLORIDA REGIONAL GROUP, INC.
3801 Coco Grove Avenue Miami, Florida 33133
FRG NEWSLE1IER - HOUDAYS 2005-2006
Seasons Greetings As we complete 2005 and enter 2006, let us look back on all of those
things that we experienced in the past year. Certainly, it was another year of hurricanes both in Florida and along the Gulf Coast. Although there was a lot of damage, we hope that things are on the mend. In addition to those problems, there were many positive things in this past year. Lets be thankful for those positive things and look forward to working together in the coming year. On behalf of the FRG-BVA let me take this opportunity to wish you a Most Joyous Holiday Season and a Happy and Prosperous New Year. - ___
FRG Presidents Message: This, indeed, was a very Happy Thanksgiving for all the FRG Blinded Veterans (Bys). Im happy to report that the Walk-A-Thons, this year, have turned out better than any of us could have expected. This is just a preliminary report, and a more detailed report will be forth coming by Dr. George Stocking, when he gives his annual Treasurers report at our State Convention. Fm still shocked at William Menendez record breaking Walk-A-Thon, generating over $6800. I must also salute Bruce Davis, Gainesville VAMC VIST Coordinator, who brought a number of BVs from the Ocala area, to assist in the Walk-A-Thon. William Menendez Walk-A-Thon, as it is being called, had 104 persons participating on the day of the event. Willie, we applaud you and all who assisted you in making your Walk-A-Thon absolutely incredible. We all of course, are keeping our fingers crossed, and hope that William Menendez, will continue to assist the FRG, with his outstanding talents. Dwight Sayer, did it differently. Instead of a Walk-A-Thon, he did a number of speaking engagements and raised $3750 for the FRG. I would like to personally thank all of our District Directors, Assistant District Directors~. and all the other individuals that assisted in making our Walk-A-Thons an overwhelming success. Im now going to steal a little of George Stockings thunder and inform you all that the ERG S apportionment from the BVA Life Membership Fund was the largest ever, over $9,800. This is a substantial increase over last years apportionment. Two years ago, I wrote a message in our FRG Newsletter outlining the three factors that make up a viable organization. 1. Leadership; 2. Membership, and 3. Financial Stability. We are fast approaching our goals of a large membership and financial stability. Our next goal now is reach out and tap our membership, for the leadership that is so important for the continued success of any organization. Therefore, you guys and gals, please locate future leaders, and utilize their talents, thereby making the FRG even stronger than ever before.
Now for some sobering news. I have taken the liberty of copying an article that came to me a few days ago. I felt it necessary to pass it along to all BVs in Florida, just to show you all how the critical forthcoming events in Washington are reaching a boiling point. Article in todays Congressional Quarterly.
CQ Today, November 14, 2005. American Legion to Chairman Steve Buyer. We will not be talked down to or lectured, by Tim Starks, CQ Staff. The tense relationship between House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Steve Buyer and veterans groups is deteriorating rapidly - to the point of nastiness - in the wake of a revamped hearing schedule the Indiana Republican unveiled recently. The latest row; The American Legions National Commander Thomas Bock, fired off an angry response Monday to a Buyer letter about a November 7 Summit at which the Chairman announced the new schedule. You begin your letter by slating in almost a condescending manner that, its unfortunate that the American Legion chose not to send a representative, wrote Bock I might say to you that it is unfortunate that your staff chose not to send an invitation to the National Commander of the American Legion. By the time Buyers staff deigned to contact the group, Bock said, it was too late. I must tell you, sir, to a person, we find your letter and your implications to be insulting and patronizing , Bock fumed, adding that the group would not be treated as if it were superfluous. Buyer said that he strongly disagrees with much of the letters accusations and rhetoric, he still wants to work with it and other groups for the good of our nations veterans. The foregoing article should demonstrate to all the veterans just how important it is for all of you who have email capabilities to send an email to Bill Stockslager, Assistant District Director, and thereby automatically be placed on our Distribution List If we can elevate this Distribution List to several hundred names of BVs, I predict that we shall, in the future, make a difference in the legislation that is so important to the well being of our veterans. Therefore, just send n email to Bill Stockslager at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask to be put on the Distribution List. I am looking forward to the Ocala luncheon meeting, as I have a feeling that we may break the record that was set 2 years ago when we had 184 BVs, family members, and Mends in attendance. Terry King FRG President
FRC Auxiliary Presidents Message: Its that time again. Check your mail for your special letter from our Scholarship Committee Chairperson. This is your opportunity to change your boredom to something exciting. Remember last century when you wanted to be.. or wanted to do... or wanted to show your talents to the world? Wet now is that time. You will be getting a letter about the FRG Auxiliary Scholarship Program from Chairperson Joyce Thornton. These Scholarships are available for the spouse or children of Florida Blinded Veterans. You may use it to attend a Community College, College, University or Vocational School. Try it it is not too late. The FRG Auxiliary will provide two $1000 Scholarships for the 2006-2007 academic year. When you receive that letter, it will tell you to write for an application. Follow the directions carefully and send your completed application before April 15, 2006. The Scholarship Committee will review all applications and select the two recipients for the $1000 Scholarships. We have had many success stories of children and spouses who took advantage of this opportunity and had theft dreams come true. This certainly could happen to you. Just think about it. For information, call Joyce Thornton at (800) 513-0045 or after hours (239) 433-7722. Joanne King, FEC Auxiliary President
FRG Meeting Notice: This is your final notice that the next meeting of the Florida Regional Group will be held on Saturday, January 7, 2006 at the Quality Court - Ocala Plaza, 3621 West Silver Springs Blvd. in Ocala. Bruce Davis, VIST Coordinator at the Gainesville VAMC, has assisted in making the arrangements. The meeting will begin at 11:30 AM with a period of socializing, followed by lunch at noon. For lunch, you may select between: Roast Beef Au Jus
with Mashed Potatoes or Chicken Cordenbleau with Rice Pilaf, and Tossed Green Salad, 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 extra charge.
FRC President Terry King will preside at the meeting following lunch. A National Legislative Up-Date will be presented. A discussion will be held regarding FRG activities for the coming months. Representatives from the Department of Veterans Affairs will be on hand to provide information about services and benefits for Blinded Veterans and theft families. The FRG Auxiliary will also provide information about theft activities and the 2 Scholarships they offer to the spouse or children of Florida Blinded Veterans. To get to the hotel take I75 North or South to exit 352. Go East off of I75. The hotel is directly East of the Interstate. Free parking is available at the hotel.
The hotel has asked us to notify them as to the number who will be attending and the choice of lunch desired by January 4. Please make your reservations prior to that date by writing to Bruce Davis, VIST Coordinator, VAMC, 1601 S.W. Archer Road1 Gainesville, FL 32608, or call Bruce at (800) 324-8387 ex. 5560. You may also make your reservations by calling Central East District Director Dwight Sayer in Winter Gardens at (407) 877-1970 or in the Ocala area, call Rick Calissi, Central East Assistant District Director, at (352) 629-6799. You may also make your reservations by calling Louise DiGennaro, VIST Coordinator at the Jacksonville VA Outpatient Clinic at: (904) 232-2751 ex 3015 or Judy Hayes, VIST Coordinator at the Lake City VAMC, at (386) 755-3016 ex 2088. If you need transportation from the Jacksonville area, call Louise DiGennaro or from the Lake City area, call Judy Hayes. Louise and Judy will try to assist with transportation. Although the cost of the meal to you is only $5 each meal guaranteed will cost your Regional Group $12.
National Legislative Up-Date: Prior to its recess on November 18, Congress passed a 4.1 %
Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for Service Connected Disability Compensation and
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC). Previous legislation resulted in a 4.1%
COLA for individuals who receive Social Security benefits and the VA Non-Service Connected
Disability Pension. These COLA take effect in December and will appear in your January 2006
In previous FRG Newsletters, we reported information regarding the Blinded Veteran Continuum of Care ACT of 2005 S 1190 in the Senate and HR 2579 in the House. Originally, These measures would add 75 Blind Rehabilitation Outpatient Specialist (BROS) position around the country over the next 3 years. S 1190 was merged into S 1182 and the number of new BROS positions reduced to 35. It has been reported favorably out of the Committee but was not voted upon by the Senate prior to their recess on November 18. HR 3579 still contains 75 new BROS positions but has not been brought to a vote in the House Veterans Affairs Committee. Tom Zampiere, BVA Director of Governmental Affairs, has worked hard to get co-signers on HR 3579 His efforts have been helped by many BVs including FRG Vice President Paul Kaminsky. At the writing of this Newsletter, we have 20 Democrat and 5 Republican co-signers. This includes 3 from Florida: Michael Bilirakis, Corrine Brown, and Cliff Stearns. We urge all BVs to contact their US Representative and encourage them to cosponsor HR 3579. This bill is most cost effective and will provide significantly more
rehabilitation services to Blinded Veterans. BROS services will increase BVs independence and quality of life. It may provide training to some BVs who do not need residential training at a Blind Rehab Center. In addition, BROS can assist BVs adapt their BRC training to their home community when they finish the BRC training. Call your County Election Office and get the telephone number for your Representatives office in your area and make that call for your Representatives support on HR 3579..
New Tampa VAMC BROS: In the October 2004 FRG Newsletter, it was reported that Michele Robinson had taken up her duties as Blind Rehabilitation Outpatient Specialist (BROS), working with VIST Coordinator Charles Nieberding at the Tampa VAMC. The hurricanes and a desire to return to the Chicago area prompted her to accept a position at the Hines Blind Center. The management at the Tampa VAMC was encouraged to replace that position as soon as possible. Fortunately, the position was approved and a selection made.
John Ramirez was born and raised in Barstow, California. After graduating from high school there, he entered the Navy where he served from 1982 to 1986 and was assigned duty as an aviation mechanic. In 1987 after 9 months as a civilian, he returned to the Navy, again being assigned as an aviation mechanic. In the early 1990s, he was given a medical discharge with a 30% service connected disability rating. Following discharge, he used his eligibility under the Disabled Veteran Vocational Rehabilitation Training Program (Chapter 31). While in school, he participated in the Work Study Program working part time in a number of positions. Subsequently, he earned a Bachelors Degree in Psychology from Park College. Then, he entered the University of Arizona, where he earned a Masters Degree in Rehab Teaching. In December 2002 he was employed at the Blind Rehabilitation Center in Birmingham. He took up his duties as the BROS at the Tampa VAMC and will work with VIST Coordinator Charles Nieberdin& providing service to Blinded Veterans in that area. John Raniirez and his wife Z, look forward to taking up their lives in the Tampa area. John enjoys fishing and took up crocheting to improve his dexterity skills. John, on behalf of all Blinded Veterans in Florida and particularly those in the Tampa VAMC catchment area, welcome to the Sunshine State. We hope that you will get settled in quickly and enjoy your new home. We look forward to working with you in the future.
FRG-BVA Meeting Schedule
January 7 FRG Meeting Quality Court in Ocala
February 4 FRG Meeting at the MacDill AFB Enlisted Club in Tampa
March 4 FRG Meeting at the American Legion in Oakland Park
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