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NEWSLETTER - November 2010

     FRG President's Message:  In this issue of the President’s Message, I’m going to lay out the procedures that take place, from the time you request aids or devices from your VIST Coordinator until you receive the item .  Our hope is that by understanding the system you may receive the prosthetics items in a more timely  manner.  After a thorough evaluation around the state, it has been found that the Southwest area, has by far the most problems receiving there prosthetics items in a timely manner, or in some cases not at all.  There are 6 VA Medical facilities in Florida excluding the Panhandle, witch is under Biloxi Mississippi.  They are Miami, West Palm Beach, Tampa, Bay pines, Orlando, and Gainesville -Lake City.  Those facilities coordinate the many VA Outpatient Clinics.  The first step is to make the request to your VIST Coordinator.  If the item does not require an evaluation by the BROS, the VIST Coordinator sends a consult requesting the aid or device to Prosthetics.  If it requires an evaluation, the VIST coordinators send a message to the BROS, for an evaluation.  The BROS would go to your home to do an evaluation concerning the device in question.  If the evaluation determines that the BV can use and benefit from the item, then the BROS puts a consult into Prosthetics for the item.  Whether the VIST or BROS sends the consult, then it is now up to the Prosthetics Service to order the item or items.  If you have not received said item after 3 or 4 weeks, after the consult has been sent to Prosthetics, then call your VIST Coordinator and ask for the status of the item.  Now if after a couple of more weeks have passed, and you have still not received said item or items, then I suggest that you contact one of the following individuals that can assist.  If you reside on the west side of the state , contact Terry King (941) 505-7747.    If you live on the east side of the state,  contact George stocking at: 305 446 8008.  Here is my reason for suggesting that you contact one of the two Board appointed representatives, I quote Donald Freyberger, Director Prosthetics VISN 8, from a question that we had sent to him and here is his answer.  “Initial action is taken within 8 days and 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 should be conducted each week and oldest orders should be taken and handled. At 30 days a supervisor should definitely be aware and the order assigned to be completed.”  In my suggestion, I have allowed a lot of leeway, to permit any and all unforeseen conditions.  I have had far too many veterans tell me that just not worth the hassle, but if this is the attitude taken, we may never be able to solve the problem.  Once again our problems are primarily in the Southwest area.  Although that area is under the Bay Pines VAMC, the rest of that catchment area is not experiencing problems receiving their prosthetic  items.  The FRG has been in contact with Don Freyberger and Dan Fields, Bay Pines Prosthetics Representative regarding this matter.

     Here is an interesting aid for both total and partially blinded veterans, and the price is under$140.  A new voice labeling system Which Allows users to easily record, and re-record, Information onto self-adhesive labels. This Small pen shaped recorder provides easy Recognition sound and just four buttons in a Simple identifiable pattern. Instantly play back the recordings - no computer required. Use The Pen Friend to label food items, including Freezer food and even add cooking instructions, Film and music collections. Organize household Paperwork, record shopping lists or leave audio Messages. Clothing that is dry cleaned can even be labeled. The Pen Friend can also be used as a portable note taker. You can record your message and keep track of it by placing the allocated label in a small notebook or in your diary. This device is great for students as Well as home use.

Features:  Simply allocate one of the coded self-Adhesive labels and record and store your Message on the Pen Friend; to play back Touch the Pen Friend tip to the label and it will announce recordings specific to each Label There is no limit to the record length Associated with each label. Over 70 hours of recording time available on 1 GB internal memory. Ability to download MP3 files including Books and music.  However, this  feature requires a computer.  Includes 127 labels in a mix of sizes and Shapes, currently 2 sheets of square Shaped labels and 1 sheet of small circles, Built-in speaker, USB cable, neck lanyard And two AAA batteries.  Please only request any item if you feel that you are going to use and benefit from the device.  Also remember that the VIST Coordinator will have to determine your eligibility and in some cases the BROS must evaluate and determine if you are able to use and benefit from the device.

     Don’t forget about our FRG BVA list serve.  For your information we have over 150 blinded veterans that are currently signed up, and are now receiving the newsletter which can be read on there computer.  Critical information for bv's is also available on the list serve.  This list serve can also be used to post problems or information, for example, if you have been denied an item because you were told that the VA does not provide that item you can ask the other BV's around the state if they have also been denied.  It also has another valuable use, and that is if you are experiencing difficulty with a device that you may have, just put it out over the list serve, and there is usually some one out there to assist you.  Terry King, FRG President (941) 505-7747 email; Vice President Chuck Kays West Palm Beach (407)873-7993 email; Secretary-Treasurer George Stocking (305) 446-8008 email; Northwest District Darryl Goldsmith - Pensacola (850) 554-7819, email; Northeast District Bill Burgess -Palm Coast (386) 445-4987 email; Central West District Gigi Mathis - Lakeland (863-255-9275 email; Central East District Ralph Cantrell (407) 857-1908 email; Southwest District Bob Walczak - Port Charlotte (941) 875-9876 email; Southeast District Bill McDermott – Stuart (772) 287-2105.  You may use these contacts  for getting information about services for BV's and activities of the BVA and FRG.  Terry King FRG President


     FRG Auxiliary President's Message:  As  Veterans Day approaches, we not only want to honor those who served, we also  want to understand their part in the history of our great  nation.  Auxiliary  Past President Joanne King and I have often talked about what the FRG BVA  Auxiliary might do as a statewide project.  I’d like to float something as a  possibility.  The  U.S. Congress created something called the Veterans History Project back in  2000.  The project is ongoing.  The materials are archived in the American  Folk life Center of the Library of Congress.  The idea is to  collect, preserve, and make accessible the personal accounts of American war  veterans so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better  understand the realities of war. Stories have been sought from veterans of World  War II (1939-1946), Korean War (1950-1955,) Vietnam War  (1961-1975), Persian Gulf War (1990-1995,) and Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts  (2001-present).  In addition,  U.S.  citizen civilians who were actively involved in supporting war efforts (such as  war industry workers, USO workers, flight instructors, medical volunteers, etc.)  are also invited to share their valuable

stories.  Stories  can be told in several ways. They may be written memoirs or audio tape or  video taped interviews. Letters, postcards, v-mail, personal diaries,  photographs, drawings, and scrapbooks may also be submitted. The materials are  made available to researchers and to the general public at the Library of  Congress in Washington, DC, and on the Veterans History Project web site. The  website has a complete field kit with instructions on how to interview someone  and how to submit materials.  Personally, I  wish I had asked my father more about his war time experiences. Now it is too  late. I would hate for more valuable history to be lost.  We have a treasure trove in our BV's.  Some may be eager to tell their stories. Other opportunities may exist at a VA  hospital or in the community.  More information is available at _

( .  Please  call or email me and let me know what you think of this idea and if you or a  family member or friend would like to participate. Students from

10th  grade on may collect stories so even grandchildren can become involved.  Fran  Thomas, FRG Auxiliary President  (239) 283-1708 email


     FRG Meeting Notice:  The next meeting of the Florida Regional Group will be held on Saturday, December 4th, at the Holiday Inn St. Petersburg-Clearwater  Airport, 3535 Ulmerton Road in Clearwater.  The meeting will begin with a period of socializing at 11:30 AM, followed by lunch at noon.  For lunch, you may have Home Style Roast Beef or Honey Grilled Chicken and mixed Salad, Potatoes, Vegetable, Rolls & Butter, Iced Tea or Coffee and Decadent Cheese Cake for dessert.  The cost of the luncheon will be $5 per person, including tax and tip. 

     FRG President Terry King will preside at the meeting following lunch.  Representatives from the Department of Veterans Affairs will be on hand to provide information about services and benefits of interest to BV's and their families.  A National Legislative Up-Date will be presented.  Future FRG activities will be discussed.  Information about the FRG Auxiliary will be presented.


     The restaurant has asked us to  notify them as to the number who will be attending and the type of luncheon desired before December 1st.  Please make your reservations prior to that date by writing to Central West District Director Gigi Mathis at: 2852 Chapsworth Lane, Lakeland, FL 33813 or call Gigi at (863) 701-9389, email . In St. Petersburg, You may call Bay Pines VIST Coordinator Jody Teper at (727) 398-6661 ex 4516 or in Clearwater, call Ben Wells at: (727)536-1762. In Tampa, call Vist Coordinators Rick Brown at (813) 903-2442 or Jessica Buccolo at (813) 972-2000 ex 2225.  The restaurant needs the reservation information in order to prepare properly for our meeting.


     To get to the Holiday Inn in the St. Petersburg-Clearwater areas, take US Highway 19 north or south to Ulmerton Road (State Road 686), go east about 1.5 miles.  The Holiday Inn will be on the left side of the road.  From the South (Ft. Myers, Sarasota, Bradenton) take I 75 north to I 275 north    then to exit 16/30 Roosevelt Blvd. (SR 686, continue west to Ulmerton Road (SR 686) about 1.25 Miles.  Holiday Inn will be on your right side.  From the Tampa area, take I 75 north or south to I 275 south. Go across the Howard Franklin bridge to the 2nd exit (exit 18/31 Which is Ulmerton Road (SR 686).  Go west 1.25 miles to Holiday Inn on your right side.  From the east (Orlando, etc.) take I 4 west to I 275 then continue as above.  If you need directions, call the Holiday Inn at (727) 577-1900.  Do not call the Holiday Inn for reservations but one of those listed above.  Free Parking is available next to the restaurant. Check  with your fellow Blinded Veterans, family members, and friends and make plans to join us on Saturday,  December 4th in Clearwater.  We look forward to meeting you there.


     Last year, a number of BV's made  reservations  but did not attend or cancel.  Consequently the FRG had to pay $16 for each reservation under our guarantee.  Although you only pay $5 for the lunch, the FRG subsidizes it with an additional $11.  If someone makes a reservation and does not come or cancel, the FRG must pay $16 for guaranteed reservation.  If you can't come, please call and cancel before Dec.1st.


     US Legislative Up-Date:  At present, Congress is in recess.   It is anticipated that it will convene for a lame duck session about November 15 to finish those appropriations bills not yet completed.  The VA's appropriation for fiscal year 2011 has passed and the funds are available to the VA.  The BVA's bill to lower the requirement for the 2101 B Adaptive Housing Grant from 5/200 to 20/200 passed the House but not the Senate.  There is a slim chance that the Senate may vote on that measure during the lame duck session.  If the senate does not pass it, the BVA will have to start over in the new session of Congress.  There is a FRAUD on the internet.  Like so many things today that anyone can fabricate something about anyone or some policy and without anything other than just a desk top, start a chain of false information.  There has been and still are rumors from veterans that a huge increase is coming for service connected veterans and in this case the person doing this actually took a real piece of legislation, but added incorrect information.  This caused veterans to call there congressmen and Senator's staff and ask if a certain bill did pass congress. The bill did pass but did not include a large increase in service connected compensation for disabled veterans.  Presently, there is no legislation to increase compensation.  If there is an increase in the Consumer Price Index, there may be a small Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) in January. If there is a COLA it will be reported in future FRG Newsletters.


     Remember to mark your calendar for Saturday, December 4th, so that you, your family members, and friends,  may attend the FRG meeting at the Holiday Inn St. Petersburg-Clearwater Airport for an interesting and enjoyable afternoon.      Be sure to call those listed above and make your reservation before December 1st.


FRG Meeting Schedule


December 4                              FRG Meeting Holiday Inn St. Petersburg-Clearwater Airport

January 8                                  FRG meeting Ocala Hilton Hotel

February 5                                Proposed FRG meeting MacDill AFB Enlisted Club in Tampa

March ?                                    Proposed FRG meeting in the Ft. Lauderdale area

April 28 - May 1                       FRG State Convention Plaza Ocean Club in Daytona Beach


FRG Newsletter Staff

Terry King                                FRG President

Fran Thomas                            FRG Auxiliary President

George Stocking                       FRG Newsletter Editor