3801 Coco Grove Avenue • Miami, Florida 33133
BVA-FRG web site:

FRG Newsletter - September 2013
To get on the FRG List Serve, contact Terry King at (941) 505-7747 email

FRG President's Message: This message is about a woman who, for many, many years, provided
dedicated service to disabled veterans at a VA Medical Center in California. When I read it, I thought
of our VIST Coordinators who, every day, provide service to our fellow Blinded Veterans. Therefore, I
am dedicating this president's message to our Much respected VIST Coordinators.
Pamela Murphy, widow of WWII hero and actor, Audie Murphy, died
Peacefully at her home recently. She was the widow of the most decorated WWII hero and actor,
Audie Murphy, and established her own distinctive 35 year career working as a patient liaison at the
Sepulveda Veterans Administration hospital, treating every veteran who visited the facility as if they
were a VIP. Any soldier or Marine who came into the hospital got the same special treatment from
her. She would walk the hallways with her clipboard in hand making sure her boys got to see the
specialist they needed. If they didn't, watch out. Her boys weren't Medal of Honor recipients or
movie stars like Audie, but that didn't matter to Pam. They had served their country. That was good
enough for her. She never called a veteran by his first name. It was always "Mister.." Respect came
with the job. "Nobody could cut through VA red tape faster than Mrs. Murphy," said veteran Stephen
Sherman, speaking for thousands of veterans she befriended over the years. "Many times I watched
her march a veteran who had been waiting more than an hour right into the doctor's office. She was
even reprimanded a few times, but it didn't matter to Mrs. Murphy. "Only her boys mattered. She
was our angel. She went from a comfortable ranch-style home in Van Nuys where she raised two
sons to a small apartment - taking a clerk's job at the nearby VA to support herself and start paying off
her faded movie star husband's debts. At first, no one knew who she was. Soon, though, word spread
through the VA that the nice woman with the clipboard was Audie Murphy's widow. It was like saying
General Patton had just walked in the front door. Men with tears in their eyes walked up to her and
gave her a hug. "Thank you," they said, over and over. The first couple of years, I think the hugs were
more for Audie's memory as a war hero. The last 30 years, they were for Pam. One year I asked her to
be the focus of a Veteran's Day column foaall the work she had done. Pam just shook her head no.
"Honor them, not me," she said, pointing to*roup of veterans down the hallway. "They're the ones
who deserve it." The vets disagreed. Mrs. Murphy deserved the accolades, they said. Incredibly, in
2002, Pam's job was going to be eliminated in budget cuts. She was considered "excess staff." I "don't
think helping cut down on veterans' complaints and showing them the respect they deserve, should be
considered excess staff," she told me. Neither did the veterans. They went ballistic, holding a rally for
her outside the VA gates. Pretty soon, word came down from the top of the VA. Pam Murphy was no
longer considered excess staff." She remained working full time at the VA until 2007 when she was 87.
"The last time she was here was a couple of years ago for the conference we had for homeless
veterans," said Becky James, coordinator of the VA's Veterans History
Project. Pam wanted to see if there was anything she could do to help some more of her boys. Pam
Murphy was in her 90's when she died recently. What a lady.
Recently, Bob Walczak, who has been Southwest District Director for a number of years,
submitted his resignation for personal family reasons. James Duda has been nominated and approved
to replace Bob as Central West Director. Jim is presently at the West Palm Beach Blind Rehab Center
taking computer training. As of this writing, we are still looking for a blinded veteran to step forward
and assist us as the district director in the Northeastern area. Please contact me at the numbers
below. Terry King, FRG President. If you wish to volunteer as an Assistant Director or have a question
or need information, contact one of the following: President Terry King - Punta Gorda (941) 505-7747
email; Vice President - Mike Taylor Fleming Island (904) 264-0884 email
met8@comcast.nett; Secretary-Treasurer George Stocking - Miami (305) 446-8008 email; Northwest District - David Bigoney, Tallahassee (50)554-7819 email; Central West District Earl Bessent- Tampa (813) 286-1708 email; Central East District David Kinney Deland (352) 357-8462 email ; Southwest District James Duda — Naples (2309) 450-6007; Southeast
District Jim McCoy - Sunrise (i154) 748-9428.
VIST Retirement: It is with both joy and sadness that we announce the retirement of Louise
DiGennaro as VIST Coordinator at the Jacksonville VA Outpatient Clinic. We are joyful for Louise who
will get to spend more times with her family but sad for the Blinded Veterans in the Jacksonville
area. Louise has served as VIST Coordinator at Jacksonville since 1992. Initially, she was a part time VIST.
When the BVA obtained funding for 22 additional full time VIST positions in 1995, she was made the full
time VIST Coordinator. She has served in that capacity providing service to Blinded Veterans in the
Jacksonville area for over 20 years. In 2004, she was the first VIST Coordinator to assist in sending letters
to BV's not on our mailing list giving them the opportunity to receive the BVA Bulletin and FRG
Newsletter. This helped the FRG to increase its membership. She is retiring to spend more time with her
family. We wish her good luck and will miss her. The FRG has been in contact with Dr. R. Daniel
Morgann, Chief Medical Officer at the Jacksonville VA Outpatient Clinic regarding Louise's replacement.
He indicated that he would be working with Bruce Davis, senior VIST Coordinator at the Gainesville
VAMC in the recruitment process.
FRG Meeting Notice: The next Informational meeting of the Florida Regional Group will be held
on Saturday, October 5th at the Quality Inn - Commonwealth, 6802 Commonwealth Avenue in
Jacksonville. This is the same hotel where our Jacksonville meeting was held for many years, it has
changed from a Holiday Inn to a Quality Inn. It will begin at 11:30 AM with a period of socializing,
followed by lunch at noon. For lunch you may have either: Chicken Corton Bleu or Roasted Pork Loin
each served with house salad, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, Southern style Green Beans, Rolls &
Butter, Iced Tea or Coffee, and Hot Cobbler & Vanilla Ice-Cream.
The price of the lunch will be $5 per person including tax & tip.
FRG President Terry King will preside at the informational meeting following lunch. A National
Legislative Up-Date will be presented. A discussion will be held regarding FRG activities for the
coming months. Representatives from the Department of Veterans Affairs will be on hand to provide
information about services and benefits for Blinded Veterans and their families.
The hotel has asked us to notify them as to the number who will be attending by October 1st.
Please make your reservations by that date by calling Dave Bigoney at: (850) 514-8821 email or Mike Taylor at (904) 264-0884 email You may also
make your reservations by calling: Bruce Davis, VIST Coordinator, Gainesville VAMC, at (800) 324-
8387 ex. 5560 or Judy Hayes, VIST Coordinator Lake City VAMC at: (386) 755-3016 ex.
2088. Although the cost of the meal to you is only $5, each meal guaranteed will cost the FRG $20. If
you make a reservation and can't come, please call Mike Taylor before October 1st and cancel your
reservation. The FRG will have to pay $20 for each meal guaranteed, including those unused.
For those who wish to stay at the Hotel: $59. SLEEP RATE FOR EXTERIOR ROOMS, $69 SLEEP RATE
FOR INTERIOR ROOMS. To get this rate, individuals will need to call: Laura Rhoden, senior sales
associate, at 904-394-7001.
To get to the hotel, take 1-10 to 1-295 North (Georgia bound). Continue on 1-295 to exit 22, which is
Commonwealth Avenue. Exit there, the hotel is on your right. From the South take US 301, US 17, US 21
to I10, or 1-95 north to 1-295 and continue as above on 1-295. From the North, take 1-95 South and
merge with 1-295 at exit 360 B then to exit 22. Keep left at fork in ramp, turn left on Commonwealth
Avenue and the hotel will be on your right. Free parking is available at the hotel.
The hotel has asked us to notify them as to the number who will be attending by October 1st.
Please make your reservations by that date by calling Dave Bigoney at: (850) 514-8821 email
d.bigoney& or Mike Taylor at (904) 264-0884 email You may also
make your reservations by calling: Bruce Davis, VIST Coordinator, Gainesville VAMC, at (800) 324-
8387 ex. 5560 or Judy Hayes, VIST Coordinator Lake City VAMC at: (386) 755-3016 ex.
2088. Although the cost of the meal to you is only $5, each meal guaranteed will cost the FRG $20. If
you make a reservation and can't come, please call Mike Taylor before October 1st and cancel your
reservation. The FRG will have to pay $20 for each meal guaranteed, including those unused.
US Legislative Up-Date: The BVA and PVA continue to work with Congress to provide beneficiary
travel to Blind Rehab Centers and Spinal Cord Injury Centers for veterans who are above the income
limitation to take specialized rehabilitation training at those centers. Hearings have been held in both
the Senate and House of Representatives Veterans Affairs Committees on S 633 and HR 1284. The
Senate appears to be more supportive than the House. We still have no co-sponsors for HR 1284 from
Florida. The key people on the House Committee in Florida are Chairman Jeff Miller representing
District 1 from Pensacola telephone (850) 479-1183, Gus Bilirakis representing District 12 from the
Newport Richie and Tarpon Springs area (727) 940-5860 and Corrine Brown representing District 5
from the Jacksonville area (904) 208-4998. We urge BV's around Florida to contact their US
Representatives and urge them to become co-sponsors of HR 1284, particularly Representatives
Miller, Bilirakis, and Brown.
Tampa VIST Positions: More good news for the Blinded Veterans in the Tampa VAMC area. In the
August FRG Newsletter, it was reported that two selections had been made to fill the two vacant VIST
Coordinator positions at the James A. Haley VA Hospital. Human Resources at the Tampa hospital has
completed the processing and one confirmed and one tentative starting dates have been announced.
At the writing of this Newsletter, Cathy Rodgers should be in route to take up one of the VIST
positions. She has been working at the Biloxi VA Blind Rehab Center during the last year or so. Prior
to that she was a VIST intern for 2 years with Bruce Davis, VIST Coordinator at the Gainesville
VAMC. She is scheduled to begin work in Tampa on August 26th. By the time this Newsletter reaches
you, she should already have been there for several weeks. Tampa VA hospital Human Resources
has completed work on the second VIST Coordinator poSition. The tentative starting date for that
VIST Coordinator is September 9th.
BROS Positions: Several months ago, all 10 of the BROS positions in Florida and 11 of the 13 full
time VIST Coordinator positions were filled. Now, it appears that we have all 13 of the full time
VIST positions filled. - However, during the past months, we have lost two of the BROS in Florida.
Dori Pratt, the BROS at the Broward VA Outpatient Clinic resigned to return up north. More recently,
Liz Causey the BROS in Miami transferred to the new Blind Rehab Center in Long Beach, California.
Both of these BROS positions are under the Miami VA Medical Center. The FRG has begun to work
with Paul Russo, the Director of the Miami VAMC to get these positions filled.
FRG Membership Up-date: In March of this year, the FRG celebrated the 55th anniversary of its
founding in 1958. At that time, five Blinded Veterans in the Miami area met in Mike Commini's living
room to form the FRG. Mike is a Charter Member of the BVA having been at Avon Old Farms Army
Convalescent Hospital in Connecticut when the BVA was formed March 28, 1945. On June 30, 2013, the
FRG had 1426 members. It is and has been the largest Regional Group in the BVA since 1978, when it
by-passed the New York RG which had been the largest in the BVA since the BVA's inception. Now, the
second largest Regional Group is the Pennsylvania Regional Group with 476 members. Due to the aging
of our Blinded Veteran population, approximately 56% of our members are WW II and Korean era BV's,
we have to acquire over 100 new members to maintain our membership numbers. The FRG has begun
to work with the VIST Coordinators in Florida, to add new Blinded Veterans to our mailing list. Four VIST
Coordinators have, since last November, started that process. Their efforts have already added new
names to the FRG Mailing list. We thank them very much and will be working with other VIST
Coordinators to expand our list.

Remember the next meeting of the Florida Regional Group at the Quality Inn in Jacksonville on
Saturday October 5th. Please make your reservations by calling one of those listed above in this
Newsletter before October 2nd. If you make a reservation and can't come please call Mike Taylor
and cancel as soon as possible. Join your fellow BV's for an informative and enjoyable afternoon in

FRG Meeting Schedule
October 5th FRG meeting Quality Inn Commonwealth in Jacksonville
November 2nd FRG meeting at Capt'n Fishbone's restaurant in Ft Myers
December 7th FRG Meeting at the Seminole Square in Seminole
January 4th FRG meeting at the Hilton Hotel in Ocala
February 1st Proposed FRG meeting in Tampa
March? Proposed FRG meeting in Ft. Lauderdale
May 1-4 FRG State Convention Plaza Ocean Club Hotel in Daytona

Newsletter Staff
Terry King FRG President
George Stocking Newsletter Editor