BLINDED VETERANS ASSOCIATION (BVA)
FLORIDA REGIONAL GROUP, INC.
3801 Coco Grove Avenue
Miami, Florida 33133
FRG NEWSLETTER, September 2010
FRG President's Message: Your FRG board of directors is happy to report that finally after many years, with the cooperation of the new West Palm Beach VIST Coordinator Jackie Vanbomel, our FRG newsletters list has increased by over 140 blinded veterans (BV's). This now leaves us with only the Pensacola area that has not yet been completed. For those that do not know of the procedure that we instituted several years ago. Approximately every 5 years our VIST Coordinators send out a letter under there name to the veterans for which we have no record . This gives those BV's the opportunity to send their name and address too the BVA-FRG to be placed on our mailing list. In this way the BV contacts the FRG, thus eliminating any conflict with the confidentiality laws . Without this assistance, we have no other way of locating new BV's. Therefore, as you can see, this system is primarily responsible for the BVA-FRG reaching more Blinded Veterans with our highly informative Newsletter and BVA Bulletin than ever before. We thank the VIST Coordinators for their help.
The other item resulted from two very important questions raised during the time the VA prosthetics Representative was giving her presentation. The Board is happy to report that we have received answers to those questions. I have included below the questions and the responses from Donald Freybergers, VISN 8 prosthetics chief. Question 1. When a device is requested by a BV, and a consult is placed by either the VIST or BROS to prosthetics, then, if the order is not completed within 30 days, the request for the device is no longer active, and the request is out of the system. Another words the veteran sits and waits, not aware the item is no longer being considered.
Donald Freybergers response: "absolutely false, initial action is taken within 8 days and the order should be place "ideally" during this same period. Once initially answered it is placed in pending and should be ordered as soon as possible. A review of pending orders should be conducted each week and oldest orders should be handled first. At 30 days a supervisor should definitely be aware and the order assigned to be completed." Question 2. There are some definite inconsistencies in items that are requested by BV's that live in different catchment areas in Florida. For example, a BV living in the Bay pines, and another veteran living in the Miami area, all factors being equal with each BV, determined by the VIST, and/or BROS, one veteran may be tolled that a particular device is not approved or purchased by the VA,, whereas, another BV in a different area, may be tolled that yes we can order that item. Donald Freybergers response:
"Yes we can order that item. I am not sure who is doing the telling but if VIST or BROS are doing so, this needs to be worked out with the VIST and BROS in the state. If Prosthetics is doing the "telling" a meeting needs to take place between the two groups to resolve the issue."
During our recent State Convention, a BV asked the question "Why does not the FRG set up a fund to assist BV's under emergency condition, that the VA cannot participate in? After exploring the possibility of the FRG establishing a fund, it was determined that it would not be feasible, for many reasons. Therefore we looked into other avenues of assistants. We learned that most of our VIST Coordinators have a list of out side sources that can assist veterans when there is no means of the VA doing so. If a BV is unable to obtain assistants from the VA, then contact your VIST Coordinator and see if they have a source for assisting you.
I have finally found a beeping leveler that is far superior to any other leveler that I have used to date. Its a Husky registered tool. Here are just a few of its features. The Digital Level is a manual leveling tool that can be used inside and outside for horizontal (level), vertical (plumb) and square alignment projects. It comes fully assembled also. The controls are very easy to use. 1. On/Off - Press the button to turn the level on. Turn off the level by pressing the button and holding it in for about 2 seconds. The level will automatically shut off if left idle for 5 minutes. When the level is turned on, push the button to activate and deactivate the beeper. I found this one at Home Depot, or contact your VIST coordinator for information.
The last item to mention is that our FRG List Serve is growing, and is allowing our veterans to receive information much more quickly. To sign up just contact Bill Stockslager at: (941) 743-8364 or email email@example.com. Terry King, FRG President
FRG Auxiliary President's Message: Here in Florida, the kids start back to school in August, but in Pennsylvania where Im from, the month when school started up again was always September. Even though its been some time since my elementary and high school days, I still think of this time of year as exciting. I remember each year I just had to have a brand new outfit for that all-important first day. Do you still have rituals in your life to mark significant occasions? Or even insignificant ones? Do you wash clothes every Monday? Meditate every morning? Go to the BVA luncheon in your area each year?
According to Wikipedia, the purposes of rituals are varied. They can express religious ideals, satisfy spiritual or emotional needs, strengthen social bonds, demonstrate respect, state one's affiliation, obtain social acceptance - or, sometimes, be done just for the pleasure of the ritual itself. Personally, I think of rituals as giving life a framework, a shape. The other thing September means to me is the opportunity to learn something new. As we get older, the idea of learning new things sometimes is a little frightening. We dont want to look stupid or make fools of ourselves. But sometimes life forces changes on us. We have to push ourselves to take a step into the unknown. The BV's who have gone through rehab at West Palm or elsewhere can certainly relate. The spouses can, too. We had to learn to return items to the same spot in the refrigerator from which we took them. Thats a pretty easy one. Maybe we had to learn to take over all the driving duties. We also have to learn how much help to give and how to back away when our help is neither wanted nor needed. Thats a tough one for me.
My philosophy is that learning is never a bad thing. Remember, scholarships will be available for spouses and children of Florida BV's who want to enroll in formal classes in the 2011/2012 school term. By this time next year, you could be on a new learning adventure yourself. Information about how to apply will be available after the first of the year so be on the lookout. As always, if you have any concerns or input for upcoming newsletters, please let me know. Lets all learn from one another. Fran Thomas, FRG Auxiliary President. (239) 283-1708.
FRG Meeting Notice: The next luncheon meeting of the Florida Regional Group will be held on Saturday, October 2 at the Holiday Inn - Commonwealth, 6802 Commonwealth Avenue in Jacksonville. It will begin at 11:30 AM with a period of socializing, followed by lunch at noon. For lunch you may have either: Beef Stew with Potato, Carrot, Onion, with Southern Gravy, or Baked Breast of Chicken each served with Salad, Rice, Southern Style Green Beans, Rolls & Butter, Iced Tea or Coffee, and Chef's Choice of Dessert. The price of the lunch will be $5 per person including tax & tip.
Terry King, FRG President, will preside at the informational 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 their families. The FRG Auxiliary will also provide information about their activities.
To get to the hotel, take I 10 East or Highway 301 North to I 295. Continue East on I 295 to exit 22, which is Commonwealth Avenue. Exit there, the hotel is a short distance on your right. From the South take US 17, US 21, or I 95 north to I 295 and continue as above. From the North, take I 95 South and merge with I 295 at exit 360 B then to exit 22. Keep left at fork in ramp, turn left on Commonwealth Avenue and the hotel will be on your right. Free parking is available at the hotel.
The hotel has asked us to notify them as to the number who will be attending by September 29. Please make your reservations by that date by writing to Northeast District Director Bill Burgess at: 186 Beachwood Lane, Palm Coast, FL 32137 or call (386) 445-4987 or email firstname.lastname@example.org; Paul Kaminsky (904) 291-0576, email email@example.com. You may also make your reservations by calling: Bruce Davis, VIST Coordinator, Gainesville VAMC, at (800) 324-8387 ex. 5560, Louise DiGennaro, VIST Coordinator Jacksonville VA Outpatient Clinic, at: (904) 232-2751 ex 3015, or Judy Hayes, VIST Coordinator Lake City VAMC at: (386) 755-3016 ex. 2088. Although the cost of the meal to you is only $5, each meal guaranteed will cost the FRG $15.54. If you make a reservation and can't come, please call Paul Kaminsky and cancel it by September 28. Otherwise the FRG will have to pay $15.54 for each meal guaranteed, including those unused.
US Legislative Up-Date: Just prior to its summer recess in early August, the Appropriations Committees in the House of Representatives and Senate passed the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) appropriations for Fiscal Year 2011 which begins on October 1, 2010. It is anticipated that the full House and Senate will take positive action on the appropriations for the Department of Defense and DVA shortly after Labor Day when they return from their summer recess. If that occurs, the DVA will have its funding at the beginning of the Fiscal Year for only the fourth time in the past 22 years. Since this is an election year, Congress will recess again by October 1 until after the elections. Since it is unlikely that Congress will have time to pass the appropriations for the other branches of government, they will have to pass a Continuing Resolution (CR) to temporarily fund the other Departments in the government. It is probable that Congress will hold lame duck sessions after the election in order to attempt to complete action on the appropriations for those other departments in the federal government.
In a previous FRG Newsletter, we reported that Congress had passed and the President signed a number of veterans measures which included the BVA and PVA effort's to get the co payment eliminated from inpatient VA Blind Rehab and Spinal Cord Rehab training. When the DVA General Counsel's Office went over the legislation, medical treatment was included in the exemption. Veterans who have service connected ratings of 50% to 100% are already exemption from these co payments. Veterans who have non service connected visual impairment which meets the legal description of blindness are considered catastrophically disabled and are eligible for category 4 for treatment. It appears that the DVA General Counsel's ruling would exempt catastrophically disabled BV's from inpatient and outpatient medical and pharmacy co-payments. It will take the DVA Business Office several months to draft the proper regulations. Consequently, the exemption is not now in effect. However, all NSC BV's should check to be sure that they are documented as catastrophically disabled and in category 4 status. Your VIST Coordinator can check your status for you. Then, if the regulations are drafted as indicated above, category 4 BV's will be exempt from those co-payments. We will keep you informed of this action in future FRG Newsletters.
Membership Reminder: Dues in the BVA are the lowest of any of the Veterans Service Organizations. If the code next to your name on the label on this Newsletter is FM or FAM it means that you have previously been a Member (M) or Associate Member (AM) but are not presently. If it is NM or NAM you have never joined the BVA. Please use the application enclosed in the print copy of this Newsletter and JOIN THE BVA TODAY. Annual dues are only $8. Better yet, consider becoming a Life Member (LM) or Associate Life Member (ALM), then, you won't have to pay dues ever again. Your life dues go into the Life Membership Fund, the principal of which is never touched. The dividends and interest from that fund are apportioned to the Regional Groups according to the number of LM and ALM in the Group. LM and ALM dues are staggered according to your age and are: for BV's age 44 and under - $80; BV's 45 to 54 - $70; 55 to 60 - $60; 61-65 - $50; and age 66 and over - $40. You may start a LM or ALM with a down payment of $10 with the balance payable over the next 2 years. Proposals to raise these dues were considered at the recent BVA Convention. Join now and lock in these low M, AM, LM, or ALM dues. We need all Blinded Veterans to add their support to the work of the BVA to maintain the many benefits and services the BVA has obtained for all Blinded Veterans and to continue working to obtain new services and benefits when needed. We need for you to add your voice in this efforts by using THE APPLICATION AND JOIN THE BVA TODAY!
FRG Meeting Schedule
October 2 FRG meeting Holiday Inn Commonwealth in Jacksonville
November 6 FRG meeting Palms Restaurant Spring Green Golf Course Ft Myers
December 4 FRG Meeting Holiday Inn St Pete Clearwater Airport
January 8 FRG meeting Ocala Hilton Hotel
February 5 Proposed FRG meeting in Tampa
Terry King FRG President
Fran Thomas FRG Auxiliary President
George Stocking Newsletter Editor
This is the end of the September 2010 issue of the Florida Regional Group Newsletter.