Blinded Veterans Association

Chartered by the United States Congress

Florida Regional Group

3801 Coco Grove Avenue

Miami, Florida  33133


BVA-FRG Web Site:





     FRG President's Message: Hello Blinded veterans.  The final District Informational Meeting will be held on March 31st.  A meeting reminder is later in this Newsletter.  vice President Gigi Mathis has done what many have not.  Gigi jumped out of an airplane at 13000 feet.  We are  all so very proud of her.  She is showing the world that just because we are blind does not mean that we can't do exciting things.  The state convention will be here soon.  You should make your reservations as soon as possible.  It is a great time to receive valuable information and have fun and meaningful fellowships. with your fellow blinded veteran.  I hope to bump into you at the convention in Daytona Beach.  Darryl goldsmith, FRG President


     FRG AUXILIARY PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE:  Did you know that March is Women’s History Month?  The theme for  2012 is Women’s Education-Women’s Empowerment. Women now  outnumber men in  American colleges but it wasn’t always so. When our country was founded, any 

education given to women was only to prepare them to be mothers. When Harvard  was established in 1636, it was strictly for men. It took two centuries before a college admitted women, Oberlin in 1833.  Nowadays, education is vitally important for both sexes. That is  why the FRG Auxiliary is proud to offer two scholarships to children or spouses of  blinded veterans. Applications are due April 1. Please contact me, at the following address,  if you would  like an application. Fran Thomas , FRG Auxiliary President.   (239) 283-1708 or email    


     National Legislative Up-Date:  The President has sent a budget request of $140.3 billion to Congress for the Department of Veterans Affairs for fiscal year 2013.  This proposal includes $76 billion for the Veterans Benefits Administration for compensation, Pension, DIC, and other benefits programs.  The Veterans health Administration (VHA) is proposed to have $52.7 billion an increase of 4.1 % over FY 2012 and $165 million over the Advance Funding for VHA already appropriated.  Since medical inflation has been running from 6 to 8 % in recent years, it actually results in a reduction in funding for FY 2013.             


     Free Bus Transportation to FRG Convention:  For several years the Blinded Veterans in the southwest and the Lakeland area have raised money to hire a bus for transportation to the FRG State Convention.  Well, they have done it once again this year with a lot of hard work.  There shall be a 55 passenger bus fully equipped with a bath room and plenty of conversation during the trip from Fort Myers to the state convention at the  Daytona Beach hotel.  The bus will leave the Fort Myers VA Out patient clinic on Thursday May 3rd at 9 AM.  It will then be making stops at the various Cracker barrows along I75 to pick up veterans and those that are accompanying them.  Then turning on to I4 and making its way on to Daytona Beach.  It should arrive at the hotel around 3 PM, in plenty of time for Thursday evening Pizza party.  Those on the bus will take a vote as to where they will stop for lunch.  The bus will leave the hotel for its return trip back to Fort Myers on Sunday May 6th at 9 AM.  There is absolutely no charge for any one desiring to take this bus to the State Convention.  We also are extending an invitation to any and all VIST and BROS that may like to join us on the bus.  Those desiring to travel on this bus, please contact Terry or Joanne King at: (941) 505-7747. You may  also contact Bob Walczak at (941) 875-9876.


     FRG State Convention Reminder:  This is a reminder that The FRG State Convention will be held at the Plaza Ocean Club Hotel , 640 North Atlantic Avenue, Daytona Beach, FL 32118 May 3-6.  Your Convention Committee secured the low guaranteed group rates of only  $80 per day, for 1 to 4 persons per room.  In the Plaza Ocean Club Hotel, all rooms are equipped with refrigerators and microwaves and All rooms have ocean view balconies. These  low convention rates will be in effect 3 days before and/or 3 days after the Convention.  You may come early or stay late for an extended vacation.  The low Convention rates are guaranteed for reservations made on or before April 13th.  Reservations made after April 13th, will be at the low Convention rate but only on a space available basis.  We encourage you to make your reservations immediately to insure your accommodations as another group is at the hotel that weekend.  You may cancel your reservation and  receive a full refund of your deposit, if you cancel 24 hours before noon on the day you were scheduled to arrive.  Send your reservation to the Hotel along with your check for one night's room rate and 12.5% tax or you may use your credit card number to guarantee your reservation.  Other than your deposit,  the hotel will not accept checks for your remaining charges.  You must have a credit card or cash.  Better yet, as time is short, you should make your reservation by calling the toll free reservation number  at: (800) 874-7420.  There are 22 hotels using that reservation number. Be sure to specify the Plaza Ocean Club Hotel and that you want the guaranteed group rate for the Florida Regional Group Blinded Veterans Association Convention.  If you have any problem , call George Stocking at (305) 446-8008.


     Convention Registration Fee:  The Convention Registration Fee will be $35 per person (for each BV, family member, or friend attending).  However, an early registration fee of only $30 per person will be in effect for registration received on or before April 13th.  The registration fee will cover general Convention activities, including the dinner-dance on Friday night, Hospitality Room, and the Banquet on Saturday night.  Please make your check payable to the BVA and send it to:  3801 Coco Grove Avenue, Miami, FL 33133.  Please include the first and last name of each person registering, so that we will be able to make name tags prior to the start of the Convention.  It is important for you to send your registration fee in advance to speed up the registration at the Convention. 


     For those who get to Daytona Beach on Thursday, May 3rd, the BVA Hospitality Room will be open from 6 to 10 PM. Lesa Kretschmer from Florida Reading and Vision Technology will host a Pizza Party from 6-8.  If you plan to take part in the Pizza Party add that information to your early registration information so that we can plan properly and have enough pizza.  AT 9 AM on Friday, the fifth annual horseshoe pitching contest will be held on the beach behind the hotel.  If you wish to participate call Contest  coordinator Paul Kaminsky (904) 291-0576 or email  Last year there was a good turnout and competition in the two categories was heated(totally blind and partially blind).  John Palmer from Magnify America will provide snacks at the Horseshoe Pitching Contest.


     The Convention Late Registration Desk will open at 1 PM on Friday, May 4th, in the hotel lobby.  If you have not pre-registered, you may pay your late Registration at that time.  If you have pre-registered, please pick up your name tags and Convention Program.  We need everyone to check in so that we can give the chef the proper count for the dinner dance and Banquet.  The opening session will be held in the second floor Ball room at 3 PM on Friday, May 4th.  The Informational Seminar will be open with a presentation on Prosthetics and Sensory Aids for the Blind  by VISN 8 Prosthetics Representative.  That will be followed by  presentations presenting information about specific low vision and sensory aid devices for the blind.  The Dinner dance will begin with dinner at 7 PM followed by dancing.  Again, this year, Marsha Summers will provide the music, both during the dinner and for dancing afterwards.  A cash bar will be available for liquid refreshment.


     Saturday, May 5th, The Annual Florida Regional Group Business Meeting will be held at 9 AM in the 2nd floor Ball Room.  In addition to reports on the past year and planning the FRG Program for the coming year, you will have the opportunity to share your thoughts and comments on future FRG activities.  Elections for FRG Officers and District Directors, for the coming year, will be held.  According to the BVA guidelines and the FRG By laws, The election and instruction of a Delegate and Alternate Delegates to the 67th BVA National Convention  in Galveston, Texas in August, will also be held.  Possible Amendments to the BVA and/or FRG By-Laws may be considered.  The FRG Auxiliary will also hold its Annual Meeting at 9 AM on Saturday in the Osprey Room. 


     Following the FRG Business meeting, John Palmer of Magnify America will display Low vision and sensory  aids and provide refreshments in the Board Room adjacent to the Ball Room.


     At 2 PM on Saturday, the second Informational Seminar will be held,  starting with a presentation by Susan Roberts, the Chief of the Bureau of Brail and Talking Book Services, who will bring us up to date on Talking Book Program.  Michael Healer the VA Regional Office Liaison for the Florida VIST Program will provide information on veterans benefits.  Then, Douglas Brooks, the BVA Southeast Field Representative (FSP) from Atlanta will describe the BVA FSP Program.


     The Hospitality Room will be open from 5 to 7 PM.  At 7 PM, the Installation Banquet will be held in the Ball Room.  The Banquet will close with the Installation of FRG Officers and District Directors and FRG Auxiliary Officers.  Join us in the hospitality Room, after the Banquet, for more socializing and refreshments.


     VIST and BROS Training:  For many years the FRG has shared its Convention facilities and speakers with the VIST Coordinators and BROS in Florida for their in-service training.  This year, that in-service training will begin at 8 AM on Friday and continue until the opening session at 3 PM that afternoon.  This will give you the opportunity to meet your VIST and BROS in an informal setting.  


     Since time is short, call (800) 874-7420 to make your reservations at the Plaza Ocean Club Hotel.  Please send your registration fee to the BVA-FRG in Miami.  We look forward to meeting you there.


 FRG Southeast District Meeting:  This is your final notice that The  FRG Southeast District meeting will be held at the Tropical Acres Steakhouse 2500 Griffin road in Ft. Lauderdale, on Saturday, March 31st.  The meeting will begin at 11:30 AM with a period of Socializing followed by lunch at noon.  For lunch you may have either Sliced Sirloin of Beef or Breast of Chicken and salad, baked potato, vegetable, rolls and butter, iced tea or coffee and dessert.  The price of the lunch will be $5 per person, including tax and tip.  There will be an Informational Meeting following lunch.  Come join us.  For information or to make reservations, write  to George Stocking, 3801 Coco Grove Avenue, Miami, FL 33133 or call (305) 446-8008.  In Broward County, call Jim McCoy at (954) 748-9428.  In addition, you may call:  Roberta Goldstein, Miami VAMC VIST Coordinator, at (305) 575-7000 ex 3607, April Barnes , Broward VA Outpatient Clinic VIST Coordinator, at:  (954) 625-8730, or Jackie Yoshimura West Palm Beach VAMC VIST Coordinator, at:  (561) 422-5260.  Please be sure to make your reservations before March 28th, as the restaurant needs this information in order to plan properly for our meeting.  Jackie Yoshimura and Roberta Goldstein are attempting to arrange transportation to the meeting from Palm Beach and Miami-Dade Counties, respectively.  This transportation will leave from the West Palm Beach and Miami VAMC.  If you need such transportation, contact Jackie or Roberta at the numbers listed above.


     Message from Mike Taylor, FRG Past President:  It was just before Christmas, 1968, when a Telephone Pioneer brought a Talking Book machine to my parents' house, in Jacksonville.  The Veterans Administration had sent me home to recover from my wounds, before they could begin a rehab  program.  The Telephone Pioneer probably hadn't confronted a more pitiful person, than I was at that time.  Nor, had that Pioneer found a person more in need of something to divert their attention from their own problems.  There weren't a lot of materials available at that time to play, but what there  was available was most welcomed.  The books were recorded on hard disc, and were large and heavy.  I got put on a list to receive Talking Books and Newsweek Magazine.  Newsweek came on a single long disc that played at eight and a third RPM's, and played for two and a half hours on each side.  I listen to what was sent to me, although the subjects discussed;  the language employed; and reading to past the time, all required adjustment by me.  There were articles in Newsweek that held little interest for me.  At that time, I could not imagine that anyone else could be interested in some of the events and issues that were being written in the late sixties.  Having few other options for passing my time in a meaningful pursuit, I persevered with listening to materials that were over my head.  There was nothing else to do.  And no better way to pass my time, so I listened to books from beginning to end and Newsweek from cover to cover, week after week.  I don't think that it will ever be possible for me to look back on that time with humor, but listening to my Talking Books doubtless saved what little sanity I have left.  I was grateful to that first Telephone Pioneer who brought me my first player.  I am grateful to all the Telephone Pioneers that have repaired, and replaced machines for me over these many years.  I add my appreciation to all the Telephone Pioneers for the many hours of service they have provided to the blind, and for the difference it has made in my life.  I hope for future generations that the Telephone Pioneers will be around for another hundred years.  Editor's note:  Mike Taylor was wounded in Vietnam being left totally blind and a lower leg amputee.  He served as FRG President from 1990 to 1992 and represents the FRG  on the Talking Book Advisory Council.  The Telephone Pioneers was founded 100 years ago by a group of ATT employees to provide service to their communities.  When the Talking Book Program was founded in 1931, the Pioneers accepted the responsibility to repair the Talking Book machines.  .

BVA-FRG Meeting Schedule

March 31                                           FRG Meeting Tropical Acres Steakhouse in Ft. Lauderdale

May 3-6                                              FRG State Convention Plaza Ocean Club Hotel Daytona

August 20-24                                      BVA National Convention in Galveston, Texas