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FRG Newsletter - August 2012


†††† FRG President's Message:Greetings to the membership of the Florida Regional Group.We have made progress filling the vacant district director positions.Northwest Florida is the only district director position vacant.I am pleading with the members of northwest Florida to step up and give of your talents and volunteer.If you have computer skills and want to help your fellow blinded vets get the information that is available contact me at the numbers below.I hope that you all have been exercising by doing something as easy as walking every day.Don't sit still and turn to stone.Don't be left behind due to advances in technology and the VA contracting with the Apple Corporation.The world has opened up to the blind, bringing us on a more equal footing with the sighted.I encourage you all to seek out Iphone and Ipad training. Iphone and Ipad training is available at Biloxi and Birmingham.You will be surprised to find out all the neat things that these devises can do.

How long has it been since you have had your claim checked over by a national service officer? You may be due and increase in your benefits, because of a worsening of your condition.I hope that you have gotten a BVA cap to show others that you belong to the Blinded Veterans Association.Please keep sending your ideas to your Officers and Directors.All ideas for helping the Regional Group obtain the younger Blinded Vets and to have fun and help to make BVA a household name, are needed.Following is contact information for the FRG Officers and Directors.President Darryl Goldsmith - Pensacola (850) 554-7819 email dandv5@cox. net; Vice President Terry King - Punta Gorda (941) 505-7747 email; Secretary-Treasurer George Stocking - Miami (305) 446-8008 email; Northeast District Joe Brack - Glen St Mary (904) 259-1404 email; Central West District Earl Bessent- Tampa (813) 286-1708 email; Central East District Charles Brooks - Kissimmee (407) 847-0761 email; Southwest District Bob Walczak - Port Charlotte (941) 875-9876 email; Southeast District Jim McCoy - Sunrise (954) 748-9428 email Well thatís all for now.Darryl Goldsmith, FRG President


†††† FRG Auxiliary President's Message:I would like to give special mention to a wonderful blinded vet who has a great talent creating throws and blankets with military insignias with deep affection for our great military.I had asked her to create two of her blankets for the Florida Auxiliary to donate to the National Auxiliary for our auction.I am sure they will be the best items in the Auction.Thank you June Brigadier of Ocala.Do you have socials with other people in the BVA?If you do send me a story or two for our Newsletter.Down here in the Southwest part of Florida,we have our usual annual walk a thon, support groups once a month, even a once a month breakfast which is attended by not only BV's and their great spouses and Friends but also attended by other visually impaired people in the community.All of these are not only viable for all to learn from each other but it is a way of entertainment.Terry and I were a part of a card group and some are still involved in one.Yes, you and your spouse can play cards, or any other games.In cards a sited person can read the cards normally and the visual impaired can read with having large print cards and even Braille.Woops what did I say?Braille?Yes, only 15 of the alphabet is used in playing cards.Believe me that is not hard at all.Now if you have neuropathy in your fingers that could create a problem, How about Chess?There are many ways of finding entertainment with others, sighted or visually impaired.The more activity together the more normal your life will be.Have a most enjoyable life.Joanne King, FRG Auxiliary President.24243 Pirate Harbor Blvd., Punta Gorda, FL 33955 (941) 505-7747 email


†† FRG Meeting Notice: The first Informational Meeting for the Florida Regional Group this fall , will be held on Saturday, September 8th, at the Rosen Plaza Hotel9700 International Drive in Orlando.Central East Director Charles Brooks has made the arrangements for this luncheon. The meeting will begin with a period of socializing at 11:30 AM, followed by lunch at noon.For lunch, you may have either Breast of Chicken Picatta with Erb Roasted Potatoes, or Sliced Roast Sirloin with Wild Mushroom Sauce and Cheddar Mashed Potatoes each with Garden Salad with Parmesan Peppercream & Greek vinaigrette

Dressing, Julienn of Fresh Vegetables, Ice Tea or Coffee, and Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing or White Chocolate Raspberry (no sugar added) Cake.†† The price of the lunch will be $5 per person, including tax and tip.

†††† FRG President Darryl Goldsmith will preside at the informational 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 provided.A report will be presented regarding the BVA National Convention in Galveston, Texas. Future FRG activities will be discussed.Information about the FRG Auxiliary will be presented.Charles Brooks has made Arrangements with the reservation office at the hotel, at $89 per night for Friday and/or Saturday nights.If you are coming from out of town and wish to stay over night call the hotel reservation office at (407) 996-9700 and make a reservation giving the "Blinded Veterans Association" as the organization which made the arrangements.Cut off date for reservations is 12 PM on September 5. The Booking ID # 40528.

†††† The hotel has asked us to notify them as to the number who will be attending and the type of lunch desired before September 5th.Please make your reservations prior to that date by writing to Charles Brooks at 3500 Linnet, Kissimmee, FL 34746 or call at (407) 847-0461 email may also make your reservation by calling Rick Cassidy (407)877-8448. Please give the name of each person who will attend and the choice of meal desired.The restaurant needs the reservation information in order to prepare properly for our meeting.

††††††††† To get to the Rosen Plaza Hotel from Tampa and the Gulf Coast, take I 4 East to exit 72, take 528 East (Bee line Expressway) to exit no. 1 - International Drive.Turn right on International Drive; the Rosen Plaza will be on your left after the Convention Center.From Daytona or the East Coast, take I 4 and continue as above.From the North or South on the Turnpike, go to exit 259.Take I 4 West to exit 72 and continue as above.Note:The Orlando Convention Center is between the Rosen Plaza Hotel and the Rosen Center Hotel.Our meeting is in the Rosen Plaza, so be sure you have the correct hotel.Free Parking is available behind the hotel.Check with your fellow Blinded veterans, family members, and friends and make plans to join us in Orlando on Saturday, September 8th.


†††† National Legislative Up-Date:On June 26th, Dr. Tom Zampieri, BVA Director of Government Relations, testified before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee on S 1755 the joint BVA-PVA sponsored bill to provide Beneficiary Travel to VA Blind Rehab Centers and Spinal Cord Injury Centers for NSC veterans whose income is above the income limit.Senator Patti Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee supports this bill.The Senate plans to merge a number of bills and vote on them as an omnibus veterans benefits bill.It is hoped that the House Veterans Affairs Committee will take up HR 3687 a companion bill to S 1735 in its sessions prior to the recess in September for the National Elections.To date no representative from Florida has signed on as cosigners of 3687.Please write to your Florida Representatives and urge them to support HR 3687.


†††† At present, VA Regulation 2101 B which provides the Adaptive Housing Grant for service connected BV's requires a visual acuity of 5/200 or less or a field of vision of 5 degree or less to qualify for the grant.For several years, the BVA has worked to have the VA recognize 20/200 or a 20 degree field as the description of blindness.In the BVA's Paired Organ bill, Congress did pass the 20/200 acuity or a 20 degree field as the legal description of blindness.However, the VA Regulation governing the Adaptive Housing Grant still includes the 5/200 acuity or 5 degrees of field to qualify for the grant.Both the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees have included that provision in Omnibus Veterans benefits bills which may be considered later in this Session.There are two Adaptive Housing Grants: Section 2101 a, $63780 primarily for wheelchair bound veterans.However, 2101 B is also available to BV's with service connected blindness and the loss of a leg.The smaller Grant, Section 2101 B, $12,756 is available to SC BV's with 5/200 acuity or 5 degrees of field.When the most recent legislation on the Section 2101 A & B was passed, it included a provision which permitted eligible veterans to use the grant up to 3 times as long as the total amount did not exceed the amount of the present grant 2101 A $63780or 2101B $12756.If you previously used the Adaptive Housing Grant but the amount was less than that above, you may be eligible to use the difference up to two more times as long as the total does not exceed the amounts above.For information call Dennis Thompson at the VARO Adaptive Housing Unit at (727) 319-7602.


†††Generally veterans benefits are administered by the VA Regional Office.However there is one benefit that is administered by the VA Medical Centers.†† That is, the Home Improvement and Structural Alteration (HISA) Grant. ††HISA Grants are available through your local VA Medical Centers and is available to both SC and NSC BV's.Recently, through the efforts of the BVA and PVA, the HISA Grants were increased to $6800 to sc BV's and $2000 to NSC BV's.This grant may be used for minor alterations to your home in relation to your disability.For information about HISA Grants contact your VIST Coordinator.


†††† It is premature to anticipate if the measures presently before Congress will be passed.It is important for BV's to contact their US Senators and Representatives regarding the legislation earlier in this article.Grass roots contacts are important in getting legislation passed.Congress listens to those who elect them.Although Congress has passed the 2013 Fiscal Year (beginning on October 1, 2012) appropriation for the Department of Veterans Affairs, congress has not acted on the Appropriations measures for most of the government. There is question if there is time to get these measures to a vote.It may be possible for the measures to be considered in the lame duck session after the election and before this session of Congress comes to an end on December 31st.If we are successful, you will hear about the bills in future BVA Bulletins and FRG Newsletters.If Congress does not pass the legislation this session, the BVA will begin working on them in the next Congress.†††††††


†††† Work In Progress:At the writing of this Newsletter, work is underway on the scheduling of the FRG Luncheon meetings around the state.At the end of each Newsletter, you will find a schedule of meetings for the remainder of the year.When the location is formalized, please mark the dates and locations on your calendar and make plans to join us.It is anticipated that by the time we meet in Orlando on September 8th, more definitive information will be available regarding the opening of the new VA Medical Center in Orlando.Several delays have resulted in the opening being delayed several times.It is hoped that it will finally be open in early 2013.


††† FRG Southwest District Walk-A-Thon:Attention FRG Southwest District members!The 9th annual Walk-A-Thon will be held in Ft. Myers on Saturday, October 13th, 2011 from 9 AM to 2 PM.We urge all Blinded veterans to participate in this fund raising venture.The entire share amount of the funds received by the BVA-FRG shall be used toward providing bus transportation for Southwest district Blinded Veterans and their families to the FRG State Convention in Daytona Beach next spring.White Cane Day is an international awareness event to celebrate the importance of the white cane and to promote a safe environment for users.Once again the walk will take place at Lakes Regional Park in Fort Myers, beginning at Pavilion B.Registration for walkers is $20 per person.Pre-registration ensures a tee-shirt with The Vision Awareness logo on the front and our sponsors listed on the back.In addition, there will be a catered luncheon, a 50/50 raffle drawing, door prizes, music and entertainment.In the past we have had over 150 participating walkers.For information, contact Terry King at (941) 505-7747; Bob Walczak at (941) 875-9876 or Former VIST Joyce Thornton Gilbert at (239) 995-7722.


†††† Remember to mark your calendar for Saturday, September 8th, so that you, your family members, and friends, may attend the FRG meeting at the Rosen Plaza Hotel in Orlando.Be sure to call those listed above and make your reservations, before September 5th.If you make a reservation and can't come, please call Charles or Rick and cancel your reservation before that date.The FRG will pay $15 for each meal we guarantee. We don't want to pay for meals not used.Join us at the Rosen Plaza Hotel in Orlando on Saturday, September 8th for an informative, interesting, and enjoyable afternoon.††


FRG Meeting Schedule

September 8th††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† FRG Meeting Rosen Plaza Hotel in Orlando

October 6††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Proposed FRG Meeting in Jacksonville

November 4†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Proposed FRG Meeting in Ft. Myers

December 2††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Proposed FRG meeting in the St. Petersburg-Clearwater area

January 6†††††††††††††† †††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Proposed FRG meeting in Ocala.

February 3†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Proposed FRG meeting in Tampa


†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† FRG Newsletter Staff


Darryl Goldsmith††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† FRG President

Joanne King ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††† FRG Auxiliary President

George Stocking††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Newsletter Editor