BLINDED VETERANS ASSOCIATION
FLORIDA REGIONAL GROUP, INC.
3801 Coco Grove Avenue Miami, Florida 33133
BVA-FRG web site: www.bvafrg.org
FRG Newsletter - August 2013
To get on the FRG List Serve, contact Terry King at (941) 505-7747 email email@example.com
FRG President's Message: I am happy to begin this message to Blinded Veterans in Florida by
informing you that we now have a complete Board of Directors, with the exception of the
Northeast District. Now the only area left to fill is the North East District Director position. We also
want to increase the number of Assistant Directors. We badly need more Assistant Directors in order
for the District Directors to become totally effective, in completing their responsibilities. Over the
last few years we have lost many of our Assistant District directors. Therefore, I am urging any
Blinded Veteran that has a little spare time on their hands, to please contact your District Director or
call me at 941 505 7747 email firstname.lastname@example.org. The only requirement is that an assistant has
computer skills, and preferably a telephone with unlimited long distance. However, if you do not
have unlimited phone service then this can be worked around by the District Director. The newly
elected Board of directors held their first conference call board meeting on June 10, and the
following items were acted on. On October 2012 the national auxiliary board revoked the FRG
Auxiliary's charter, and the FRG, BVA has since been handling and continuing the Florida
scholarship program. Whereas there is no longer an auxiliary in Florida, the FRG board appointed
David Bigoney, Jim McCoy, and George Stocking to be responsible for the scholarship program for
the 2013-2014 academic year. The FRG BVA board also passed a motion for the District Directors
to be responsible for the raffles and door prizes at the District Informational meetings. The FRG
Board also passed the following resolution, unanimously.
Whereas, the Florida Regional Group (FRG) was chartered by the Blinded Veterans Association
(BVA) in 1958 to represent and provide service to Blinded Veterans (BV's) within the State of Florida.
And whereas, The Florida Regional Group Auxiliary (FRGA) was established in 1983 for the
expressed purpose as follows: PURPOSE Section 1 To aid and support the Blinded Veterans
Association Florida Regional Group. Section 2 To join with the BVA in their endeavors as part of
the National BVA Auxiliary (BVAA). Section 3 To preserve and strengthen a spirit of fellowship
among members so that they may give mutual aid and assistance to one another.
And whereas, for 29 years, the FRGA worked cooperatively with the FRG and accomplished its
And whereas, since its May 5, 2012 meeting, the FRG Auxiliary has been in disarray. It has not
provided aid and support to the Florida Regional Group. Neither has it preserved nor fstrengthened a
spirit of fellowship among members so that they may give mutual aid and assistance to one another.
The FRGA's action has caused dissention and chaos within the FRG resulting in a reduction of the
activities of the FRG during the past year.
And whereas, ultimately, the disarray in the former FRG Auxiliary has caused the BVA Auxiliary
National Board of Directors to revoke the FRG Auxiliary's charter in October 2012.
And whereas, the FRG Board of Directors in meeting assembled this tenth day of June 2013
passed the following resolution.
Therefore be it resolved that the Florida Regional Group does not recognize any sub group of the
Blinded Veterans Association Auxiliary in Florida and be it further resolved that FRG Board will not
approve of any fund raising or other activities of any sub group of the BVA Auxiliary in Florida.
In closing this Presidents Message I would like to add, that hopefully before our next FRG State
convention that arrangements can be completed for the family members and friends of the veterans to
have an active role in our convention. The following is a contact list of FRG Officers and District
Directors for your use. President Terry King - Punta Gorda (941) 505-7747 email
email@example.com; Vice President - Mike Taylor Fleming Island (904) 264-0884 email
firstname.lastname@example.org; Secretary-Treasurer George Stocking - Miami (305) 446-8008 email
email@example.com; Northwest District - David Bigoney, Tallahassee (850)554-7819 email
firstname.lastname@example.org; Central West District Earl Bessent- Tampa (813) 286-1708 email
email@example.com; Central East District David Kinney Deland (352) 357-8462 email
firstname.lastname@example.org ; Southwest District Bob Walczak - Port Charlotte (941) 875-9876 email
email@example.com; Southeast District Jim McCoy - Sunrise (954) 748-9428. email
FRG Meeting Notice: The first Informational Meeting for the Florida Regional Group this fall , will
be held on Saturday, September 7th, at the Rosen Plaza Hotel 9700 International Drive in Orlando.
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 Herb 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. The price of the lunch will be $5 per person, including tax and
FRG President Terry King 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 Spokane, Washington.
Future FRG activities will be discussed. Arrangements have been made 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-Florida Regional Group" as the organization which made the
arrangements. Cut off date for reservations is 12 PM on August 22nd.
The hotel has asked us to notify them as to the number who will be attending and the type of lunch
desired before September 4th. You may make your reservation in Orlando by calling Ralph Ingram at:
(407) 351-1922, email firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also make your reservation by calling
Terry King at: (941) 505-7747 email email@example.com. 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. Complementary self Parking is available behind the hotel. Notify the attendant that you are with
the Blinded Veterans Association to get the complementary free parking. Regular parking is $13 for
self parking and $20 for valet parking. Check with your fellow Blinded veterans, family members, and
friends and make plans to join us in Orlando on Saturday, September 7th.
National Legislative Up-Date: As indicated in the June FRG Newsletter, the Beneficiary Travel
proposal coordinated by the BVA and PVA has been introduced in to the Senate (S 633) and House of
Representatives HR 1284. If these measures are passed the measure would provide Beneficiary Travel
to Blind Rehab Centers and Spinal Cord Injury Centers for veterans whose income is above the income
threshold. On May 9th, hearings were held in the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee on S 633 and
several other veterans health care oriented measures. The BVA and PVA made the primary testimony
but were supported by a number of other Veterans Service Organizations. The representatives from the
Veterans Health Administration also testified positively about S 633. It appears probable that S 633
may be merged into an Omnibus Veterans Benefits bill. More recently, a hearing was held on HR 1284
by the House Veterans Health care Sub-Committee, the companion bill in the House of
Representatives. Again the BVA and PVA provided the primary testimony with supporting comments
by other Veterans Service Organizations. The representative from the Veterans Health Administration
also provided testimony in support of HR 1284. To date no members of the Senate or House from
Florida have signed as co-sponsors of either S 633 or HR 1284. Representative Gus Bilirakis is on the
House Veterans Affairs Committee and represents the Newport Richie -Tarpon Springs District. We
urge BV's throughout Florida and particularly in that District to contact Representative Bilirakis and
urge him to co-sponsor HR 1284. His local Florida office is at: 7132 Little Road, Newport Richie, FL
34654, telephone (727) 940-5860.
The BVA has also led the effort to properly fund the Department of Defense (DOD) Eye Trauma
Center of Excellence. The House of Representatives Appropriations committee has included $10
million in the DOD Fiscal Year appropriation for eye trauma research. Congress authorized six full
time researchers for The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) to coordinate eye trauma research with
the DOD. To date, the VHA has only provided two researchers to work with the DOD staff in that
Center. In a recent House Veterans Health Care Sub Committee hearing, several Representatives
blasted the VHA for not providing sufficient staff for the Eye Trauma Center of Excellence.
Atlanta BVA FSP Officer: The June 2013 FRG Newsletter, contained a brief biography of Joseph
Axt, who had been hired as the new BVA Field Service Officer in Atlanta. Joe Axt took up his
duties in Atlanta on July 1st. He will be assisting Blinded Veterans in Alabama, Florida, Georgia,
and South Carolina with claims for veteran's benefits. You may reach him at (404) 929-5338 or
write to him at Joseph Axt Blinded Veterans Association, Field Service Officer, Veterans Affairs
Regional Office, Room 339, 1700 Clairmont Road, Decatur, Georgia 30033. Although we generally
refer to it as the Atlanta BVA Field Service Office, it is actually located in Decatur a suburb of
Atlanta and is on the grounds of the VA Medical Center. If you wish to seek his assistance, it will be
helpful for you to provide as much data as possible to help in processing your claim. If the FRG can
be of assistance in clarifying matters before contacting Joe Axt, contact us at the numbers at the top
of this Newsletter.
Tampa VAMC VIST Coordinator Positions: In March, it was learned that the remaining VIST
Coordinator at the James A. Haley VA Hospital in Tampa had resigned her position. She recently
had a baby and decided to leave the Tampa VAMC to take a Social Work position in Daytona Beach
near where her husband worked. This left the Tampa VAMC with no VIST Coordinator as the other
VIST Coordinator at that facility had been terminated previously. Earl Bessent, Central West
District Director and others in the FRG began making contacts with the Medical Center
administration to get those VIST positions filled. At the FRG State Convention in Daytona Beach in
May, a resolution was proposed to the membership. The resolution was directed to Kathleen Fogarty
the Tampa VAMC Director and Nevin Weaver VISN 8 Director. The FRG membership passed the
resolution unanimously. The resolution was sent to Ms. Fogarty along with a copy of the section in
the VIST Coordinator Manual where the duties of the Medical Center Director regarding the VIST
Coordinator position is outlined. When Nevin Weaver's office was contacted, it was learned that he
had just retired and Thomas Wisnieski was acting VISN 8 Director. Mr. Wisnieski has been the
Director of the South Georgia, Northeast Florida Health care System in Gainesville and is very
familiar with the VIST Program. He has been the speaker at one of our FRG Luncheon meeting in
Ocala. We are happy to report that everyone's efforts have born fruit. Interviews with prospective
candidates have been held and selections made. Once Human Resources completes processing, the
two VIST Coordinator positions should be filled shortly. We hope to be able to give brief
biographies of the two new VIST Coordinators in the next FRG Newsletter. BV's in the Tampa area
will be happy to have their VIST services restored.
Remember to mark your calendar for Saturday, September 7th for the FRG meeting at the Rosen
Plaza Hotel in Orlando. Be sure to call those listed above and make your reservations, before
September 4th. If you make a reservation and can't come, please call Terry King or Ralph Ingram and
cancel your reservation before that date. The FRG will pay $15 for each meal we guarantee. We don't
want to pay for unused meals. We look forward to meeting you at the Rosen Plaza on Saturday,
September 7th. Come join us.
FRG Meeting 2013-2014 Schedule:
September 7; FRG Meeting Rosen Plaza Hotel in Orlando
October 5; FRG Meeting in Jacksonville
November 2; FRG Meeting in Ft. Myers
December 7; Proposed FRG meeting in the St. Petersburg-Clearwater area
January 4; Proposed FRG meeting in Ocala.
February 2; Proposed FRG meeting in Tampa
FRG Newsletter Staff
Terry King FRG President
George Stocking Newsletter Editor