Blinded Veterans Association

Charter by the United States Congress

Florida Regional Group

3801 Coco Grove Avenue

Miami, Florida  33133

(305) 446-8008

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  FRG web site:


NEWSLETTER - October 2012

     FRG President's Message:  Hello Fellow Blinded Veteran Association members.  I hope that all is going well with you all.  I hope that you did not suffer any hardships from hurricane Isaac.  Remember to stock up on supplies.  Don’t wait until the last second prepare and plan ahead.  I phone, I pad, and I pod training and even the apple desk top are all the rage.  Our   own former president Paul Kaminski provided information about the devices at the National convention.  The West palm blind rehab center is also following the lead of the Biloxi and Birmingham blind rehab centers by offering training in these devices.  The VIST support group is a very important tool in the fight against depression and we thank the VIST coordinators for having these monthly meetings.  They are important so that we can share each others experiences with someone who also has a loss of sight.  We the Blinded Veterans Association FRG would like to welcome the new BVA officers and we are looking forward to working with them in the future.  I hope that you are thinking of volunteering at your VA medical center.  Let's help the VIST coordinator locate the many missing blind vets in our state.  I hope to bump into you at the luncheon, until then.  Darryl Goldsmith, FRG President


FRG Meeting Notice:  The next meeting of the Florida Regional Group will be held on Saturday, November 3rd, at "Capt'n Fishbones" Restaurant in the Shell Factory, 2787 Tamiami Trail in North Ft. Myers.  The meeting will begin with a period of socializing at 11:30 AM, followed by lunch at noon.  For lunch, you may select from the following: half Roasted Chicken, or Broiled Fish with Lemon Caper Sauce, either with Baked Potato, or Sliced Loin of Pork with Gravy, Mashed Potatoes, either of the 3 with Green Beans Almandine, Toss Salad, Rolls & Butter, Iced Tea or Coffee, and strawberry Cheesecake. The cost of the luncheon will be $5 per  person, including tax and tip.  There will be an informational meeting following lunch.  A National Legislative up-date will be presented.  Representatives from the VA will be on hand to provide information of interest to BV's and their families.  FRG activities for the coming months will be described.  This is your opportunity to make suggestions and recommendations regarding the FRG activities. 


     The restaurant has asked us to notify them as to the number who will be attending and the type of luncheon desired by October 31st.  Please make your reservations prior to that date by writing to Southwest district Director Bob Walczak at 24263 Riverfront Drive, Port Charlotte, FL 33980 (941) 875-9876 email  You may also call in Punta Gorda Terry King (941) 505-7747 or Bill Stockslager at (941) 276-1561 ; Poindexter Martin Johnson Sarasota (941) 955-4348; John Thomas, St. James City, (239) 283-1708; Bill Cullen Ft. Myers Beach (239) 463-3587; Joseph Taylor Cape Coral  (239) 823-0744; Charles Moon Port Charlotte (941) 627-1426; Wesley Burkhart North Ft. Myers (239) 997-5450; Charles McCormick Marco Island (239) 642-5629; Laurie Charles Ft. Myers VIST (239) 939-3939 ex 6284.  The restaurant needs the reservation information in order to prepare properly for our meeting.  To get to Capt'n Fishbones Restaurant, go North on I 75 to Exit 143, then   Go West on Bayshore (State Road 78) 6.3 miles to "Old" US 41.  Turn right (North) about 1.5 miles to the "Shell Factory, which will be on the west side of Old US 41.  Going South on I 75, take Exit 158 and go West on Tucker's Grade a short distance to US 41.  Turn left (South) and go about 13 miles to the Shell Factory.  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, November 3rd in North Ft. Myers.  Please join us there.


     Last year, a number of BV's made reservations but did not attend or cancel.  Consequently the FRG had to pay for each reservation under our guarantee.  Although you only pay $5 for the lunch, the FRG subsidizes it with an additional $13.  If you make a reservation and can't come, please cancel, so the FRG won't have to pay the $18 for each reservation we guarantee.  If you can't come, please call and cancel it before October 31.


     My Blind Rehab Center Experience:  I walk down the sidewalk with my new cane rolling out in front of me.  I can see well enough to be aware of where the sidewalk meets the grass so I have no problem keeping it between the lines.  The problem for me is the discontinuities or “Toe Catchers”, so I am listening for the clicks, taps and snaps.  Taps are where the cane rolls over normal sidewalk expansion joints.  Taps are where the cane rolls over discontinuities of less than a quarter inch.  Snaps are where the discontinuity is between a quarter inch and a half inch.  I have been spending time at busy intersection listening to the sounds of the engines as they accelerate across the street or idle around the corner in a right turn.  Not doing any crossing yet, just familiarizing myself with the sounds.  I have to be careful with the Power of the white cane.  I got on the Tri-Rail and a young girl jumps  up and sings out, “You sit here Mister!” and she has her arms spread out blocking anyone else  from grabbing   the seat.  Didn’t really want to sit down, but I couldn’t deny her an opportunity to do a good deed, so I sat down and thanked her.  I was standing on the far side of an intersection just listening to the motor sounds.  I had my white cane out on the traffic side just as I was taught in mobility skills.  Car rolls across the intersection and pulls to the curb.  Young guy gets out and runs back to me, grabs my elbow and punches the pedestrian button and says, “No Sweat, I’ve got you”.  The light changes and across we go.  Needless to say, if I just want to stand there, the Cane is going to get folded up and stored in the sheath that I made in Manual Skills.  It has been said, “You can do any job in the world if you have the right tool”.  I always extend on that and say, “If you have a tool, then jobs that could be done with that tool become immediately apparent”, and so it is with the tools and skills provided at the Blind Rehab Center.


     Case #1 I have a Skill saw that I haven’t used since I went blind.  Now I have a Click Rule that allows me to make the measurements and I can use my vice to hold the wood stock and act as a cutting guide.   It’s not a big thing, but it is empowering.


     Case #2;  Prior to the Blind Rehab Center experience, I fell asleep trying to read the BVA-FRG Bulletin because my eyes got tired.   With my new computer, scanner, printer, speaker combo package I got at the BRC, I am able to scan the bulletin and then the computer just starts reading the bulletin to me with inflection.


Case #3; Living Skills taught me how to make a Cake.  Probably not going to make another cake but that pointed me in the right direction and I have been inspired and now I boil my own hotdogs in the Microwave.  Hey, it’s a start.

     OK, so, Birds Eye View!  I had grown lazy, unkempt and undisciplined.  I went to Rehab and spent six weeks with military people.  Reveille at 0600, chow at 0645, First class at 0800.  At 0800, I hear, Knock knock “Good Morning Mister McCoy, Did you finish your homework?  Post Rehab.  My new talking watch sounds Reveille at 0600, breakfast at 0645, walk the Dog at 0700, Hit the Mall at 0800 (one lap equals 1.2 miles) since the mall doesn’t open for business until 10am it’s a ghost town.  Just I and the other mall walkers and the new mothers with their racing strollers working off the weight gained during pregnancy. 0930 starts the rest of the day coming up to speed on the new equipment and software.  Hope you get as much out of Blind Rehab as I did! 


     Since returning home, I have been asked, "But, Was it worth it?"  My Answer, "Yes, it was well worth it on several levels!"   Of course I had to work my way past DENIAL before I began to get anything out of it.  I stayed in denial until I went into the Manual Skills Room and the guy said, "OK let's see you measure this board and Rip it to 3 and 7/16 inches wide without cutting your Thumbs off.  He then gave me a Click Rule so I could set the distance from the Blade to the Rip Guide by counting the clicks instead of messing around with a Ruler and a Magnifying device.  Then he showed me how to set the feather Blocks to hold the board in place without using my thumbs or finger tips. Can you imagine the adrenalin rush when the instructor examined the board I cut and said, "Good Job"?  That is where I moved out of Denial and in to Reality.  So, what were the Take Aways?  1.  Socialization.  Hey, the Vets on that floor could tell some great stories and they could comprehend the stories I had to tell.  2.  Tools and Equipment to deal with impending/increasing blindness.  3.  Training Specifics on the use of the tools and equipment and application to daily life.

4.  A Reawakening to the concept of "Adapt and Improvise".  Of course, number 4 above was the most important "Takeaway".  The awareness of the adaptations and improvisations they presented to enable me to cut boards, cross streets, cook a meal, cause my computer to read my documents to me out loud extends out to all of life.  So, yes, it was worth it!  It was a "Life Changing" Experience.

 I would like to say thank you to those that nagged me into going to the BRC, The Nursing staff that made my life pleasant, the Training staff that coped with my Block headedness and provided valuable take aways skills.  A special thanks to the Dietician Catherine who went out of her way to call my daughter at home to close the loop on my dietary needs and finally, to the Vets that provided the good humor, good conversation and great stories to fill the evenings.  Thank you all.  Jim McCoy


     BVA National convention:  The BVA National Convention was held in Galveston, Texas August 20-24.  The September FRG Newsletter was sent to the printer prior to the Convention so a report about Convention activities was not included.  Prior to the start of the Convention, the Board of Directors met to finalize the Annual Report to the Convention including a proposed budget for BVA fiscal year 2012-2013.  On Monday morning Operation Peer Support (OPS) began at which a number of newly Blinded Veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan participated.  In addition to those BV's attending for the first time, there were a number who had attended previous BVA Conventions in attendance. The new BV', along with their family member took part in a week long series of activities to assist in their return to civilian life.  Beginning on Tuesday and running to Thursday, a number of exhibitors displayed a variety of adaptive equipment and sensory aids to those in attendance.  The Convention opened wit the President's Reception on Monday evening.  The Opening Business session was held on Tuesday morning at which Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki was our key note speaker.  The membership accepted the BVA Annual Report and approved the 2012-2013 BVA Budget.  That afternoon the By-Laws and Resolutions Committee met.  The Committee recommended passage of several housekeeping By Laws to bring the Article on BVA Conventions up to date.  An amendment submitted by Mark Cornell to add a low vision category of membership was discussed and was not recommended for passage by the committee.  The Committee also recommended13 previously passed resolutions and one new resolution for approval by the Convention.  Wednesday morning several speakers presented information to those in attendance.  The Father Carroll Luncheon was held with Carl Gusto, Executive Director of the American Foundation for the Blind as Guest Speaker.  On Wednesday afternoon, the six BVA Districts held caucuses to review the report of the By Law and Resolutions Committee.  In addition the candidates for BVA National office were invited to speak to the various caucuses.  The final Business Meeting was held on Thursday morning.  The By-Laws and Resolutions Committee report was presented.  The By Laws designed to streamline the operation of the Convention were passed.  When the Committees recommendation to not pass the low vision category of membership By Law amendment, was brought up, Mark Cornell withdrew his amendment.  The membership voted to pass all 14 resolutions.  These resolutions will appear on the BVA web site  The following Blinded Veterans were reelected to lead the BVA for the coming year:  President - Sam Huhm (Pennsylvania); Vice President - Mark Cornell (South Texas); Secretary - Dale Stamper (Idaho); and Treasurer Roy Young (Greater Houston).  The Spokane Inland Empire Regional Group will host the 2013 BVA Convention in Spokane, Washington.  Although several Regional Groups expressed interest in the 2014 Convention, there were no complete bids presented.  The annual Awards Banquet was held on Thursday night.  Tom Hicks from the Northern Arizona Regional Group received the Major General Melvin J. Maas Vocational Achievement Award for his personal Rehabilitation.  He is the VIST Coordinator at the Phoenix VAMC.  Randall Burrigan from Southern Arizona received the Irving Diener Award for his work with his Regional Group.  The David Schnair Award was presented to Enrique Sanchez for his work as a Volunteer National Service Officer for the New York Regional Group.    The Gold Gavel for the largest numerical increase in membership was presented to the Missouri Regional Group.  The Southern Arizona Regional Group won the Silver Gavel, for the largest percentage increase.  After the installation of BVA and BVA Auxiliary Officers, Following the benediction, President Huhn closed the 67th BVA National Convention.


     We look forward to meeting you at the next meeting of the FRG at Capt'n Fishbones restaurant in North Ft. Myers on Saturday, November 3rd.  Call one of those listed above to make your reservations.  If you make a reservationn and can't come, please call and cancel it before October 31st. Join

us in North Ft. Myers for an informative and enjoyable afternoon. 


FRG and BVA  Meeting Schedule


November 3                                       FRG Meeting Cap'n Fishbone Restaurant in Ft. Myers

December 1st                                     FRG Meeting in Seminole

January 5th                                         FRG Meeting Ocala Hilton Hotel

February 2nd                                      FRG Meeting in Tampa

March ?                                             FRG Meeting in Ft. Lauderdale

May 2-5                                             FRG State Convention Plaza Ocean Club  in Daytona

August 19-23                                      BVA National Convention Spokane, Washington                                

Newsletter Staff

Darryl Goldsmith                                FRG President

Jim McCoy                                         FRG Southeast District Director

George Stocking                                 Newslettter Editor