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

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

FRG President's Message: By the time this newsletter is
received most of everything that took place at the 68th National
BVA Convention will be somewhat old news. But for those of
you that have not heard, Florida has come back from the
convention with a bronze gavel. The bronze gavel that Florida
received was the first of its kind. The Bronze gavel is presented
to the regional group that has signed up the most non members
as either life time or annual paying members, during the past
year. The reason that makes this gavel different than all other
gavels that were given out at the previous National BVA
Conventions, is that we do not have to mail it back as in the past,
but are allowed to keep the gavel. Our Regional Groups name is
also etched into the wood of the gavel. I will be bringing it to
all of the luncheons that we hold around the state. I had learned
later that the gavels are made at one of our BRC facilities. I
would like to personally thank our directors, assistant directors,
and all others that worked towards increasing our membership,
thereby allowing the FRG to be awarded the bronze gavel. In
late September, George Stocking sent a print District 5
Director's Newsletter With a more detailed report on the 68th
BVA National Convention. You should have already received
that District 5 Director's letter. Now for a couple of important
items that have taken place within the FRG. For several years a
FRG member has been supporting the previous FRG Web Site,
and it has been felt by your board of directors that the cost and
the responsibility should be under the direct control of the FRG
Board of Directors and ultimately the FRG membership. Jim
McCoy, Bill Stockslager, and David Bigoney have volunteered
to explore and developed a new web site. In a rather short
time they have sought out and found an open domain name.
They are currently constructing the new web site, and hopefully
it will be completed within the next several weeks. Our new
web site is as follows: FYI Board members
have made donations to pay for this web site for 10 years, so
there will be no cost to the FRG. Since the FRG convention last
May, we have been attempting to locate, appoint, and have the
FRG Board approve a district director for the Northeast District.
I have made numerous phone calls to veterans in that area to no
avail. Therefore I had decided to take the initiative and appoint
Donald Overton as a temporary assistant district director.
Because he does not live in the appropriate area, he will not
have a vote at the board meetings, but can attend, and enter into
discussion and or debate on issues. Donald Overton will be
attempting to enlist assistant district directors to help him
develop and bring back up to a state of readiness to recruit and
assist other veterans in that area. Please be advised that this
presidential appointment does not circumvent any one else that
lives in the North east District, from agreeing to take on the
responsibilities of an elected District Director. We now have 4
blinded veterans serving on the board that are under the age of
53. I believe that this indicates that we are approaching a new
era, by the younger veterans stepping up and accepting the
responsibility to move the FRG forward. Please do not be
misled, we still need as many veterans young and old to step
forward and assist us. Therefore if any of you have some free
time and would like to assist other veterans, just contact me or
any of your board members listed below. Terry King, FRG
President. 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 (850)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 (239) 450-6007 ; Southeast District Jim McCoy - Sunrise
(954) 748-9428 email

FRG Meeting Notice: The next Informational Meeting of the
Florida Regional Group will be held on Saturday, November 2, 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 30. Please make your reservations prior to that date by
calling Southwest district Director James Duda at: (239) 450-
6007. You may also call Bob Walczak at (941) 875-9876 email in Port Charlotte. 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; Joseph
Taylor Cape Coral (239) 823-0744; Charles Moon Port Charlotte
(941) 627-1426; Charles McCormick Marco Island (239) 642-
5629; Laurie Charles Cape Coral VIST Coordinator (239) 652-
1800 ex 20828. 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 2 in North Ft. Myers.

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 one of those listed above and cancel it
before October 30.

US Legislative Up-Date: At the writing of this Newsletter,
Congress is in a state of indecision. First the President asked
Congress to approve bombing the Syrian stock piles of chemical
weapons. Then a proposal was made for Syria to turn over
control of its chemical weapons to international control. That
issue was postponed. Then, Congress returned to the issue of
funding the government. Through the advanced funding measure
the Veterans Service Organizations got Congress to pass several
years ago, the VA Health Care system has its fiscal year 2014
funding. There are a number of proposals before Congress to
fund the remainder of the government. It appears that Congress
will pass a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the other
government Departments and agencies until December. Then
when they return from the late September recess, the funding will
be considered again. Generally, in a non election year, Congress
goes into recess for the month of December. Therefore, Congress
must complete action on pending legislation by then or wait until
after the first of the year. Tom Zampieri, BVA Director of
Government Relations plans to continue working on S 633 and
HR 1284 the Beneficiary Travel bill to see if that measure might
be included in other veterans legislation being considered by
Congress. There is still time for BV's in Florida to contact their
US Representatives and urge them to sign on as sponsors for HR
1284. As indicated in the September FRG Newsletter the key
Representatives 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. The
Representatives will listen to their constituents more quickly than
voters from outside their Districts.

Orlando VAMC: The Medical Center Director Timothy
Liecert was unable to attend our September 7th FRG meeting in
Orlando. He provided information about the opening of the new
Orlando VAMC. Chris Collins Orlando VIST Coordinator
provided the following information to those who attended the
meeting. The VA Orlando Medical Center in Lake Nona is now
targeted for completion around August 2014. The Medical
Center will be part of the new "Medical City" which includes
the University of Central Florida Medical School, the Sanford-
Burnham Medical Research Institute, and the University of
Florida Academic Research Center. The $664 million facility
spans 65 acres and will have 134 inpatient beds in addition to a
120-bed Community Living Center (Nursing Home) and 60-bed
Residential Rehabilitation Program (Domiciliary). The hospital
will have all services except open heart surgery, neurosurgery,
and transplant surgery. These services will be performed in
high-volume centers of excellence to ensure the best quality of
care for our nation's veterans. In addition to the state-of-the art
dynamic technical equipment for procedures, it will also have
smart operating rooms utilizing OR integration systems as well
as a hybrid operating room to bring imaging technology into the
OR setting. The Community Living Center on the campus is
complete. There is currently a planning team organized to move
our existing Community Living center patients to the new CLC
on the Lake Nona campus by the end of this current calendar
year. The future of the current VA facility on Raymond Street is
uncertain. There is some consideration about keeping at least
part of that facility open as an Outpatient Clinic when the
hospital moves to the new site. As further information about the
new Orlando VAMC is available it will be included in future
FRG Newsletters.

Tampa VIST Coordinators: The September FRG Newsletter
announced that Kathy Rodgers would be taking up her duties as
the new VIST Coordinator in Tampa. Until age 12, Kathy
traveled around the country with her family as her father was a
career Marine. He retired to Florida when Kathy was 12. After
high school, she attended the University of Florida where she
earned a BS degree in Recreational Therapy (RT) in 1988. At
that time, she was employed as an RT at the Gainesville VAMC.
While working in that position, she entered graduate school at
Florida State University where she earned a Masters degree in
Social Work in 2009. Then she entered a 2 year internship with
Bruce Davis, Gainesville VAMC VIST Coordinator where she
trained as a VIST Coordinator and Low Vision Specialist. In
2011, she was employed in the Low Vision Rehab Unit at the
new Blind Rehab Center at the Biloxi VAMC. A year later, she
transferred to the Manual Skills Unit there. On August 26, she
took up her duties as one of the new VIST Coordinators at the
James Haley VA Hospital in Tampa. Kathy and her husband
Marty have been married for 17 years and met when they were
both working at the Gainesville VAMC. On behalf of Blinded
Veterans in Florida, particularly those in the Tampa area, we
welcome you back to Florida and we look forward to working
cooperatively with you for many years.

In the September 2013 FRG Newsletter, a second VIST
Coordinator position was announced for the Tampa VAMC
catchment area. Unfortunately, some paperwork problems arose
between the Human Resources departments at the VAMC in
Seattle and the Tampa VAMC, which has delayed the starting for
the second Tampa VIST Coordinator. At the writing of this
Newsletter, Bill Wilson is expected to take up his VIST
Coordinator duties at the Tampa VAMC in mid to late October.
Bill has a long career in Blind Rehabilitation with the VA. A
native of Hopkinsville, Kentucky, his family moved to Michigan
where he completed high school. Subsequently, he enlisted in the
Air Force where he was assigned as a medical administration
specialist. Following discharge, he entered Michigan State
University where he majored in theater. Following graduation, he
worked in a theater in Chicago for 7 years. Then, he enrolled in
Western Michigan University where he earned a Masters degree
in Blind Rehabilitation Teaching. At that time, he moved to
Waco, Texas where he was employed at the VA Blind
Rehabilitation Center. Next, he transferred to the VAMC in
Lexington, Kentucky where he was employed as the VIST
Coordinator. When Tom Holland retired as the VIST
Coordinator at the Orlando VA Medical Center, Bill transferred
to Orlando as VIST Coordinator. During his time in Orlando, he
worked with the FRG-BVA to get a Blind Rehabilitation
Outpatient Specialist (BROS) position established in Orlando in
2006. During the next 2 years, he worked as the BROS in
Orlando before transferring to a similar BROS position at the
Seattle VAMC. When the VIST positions opened in Tampa, he
took the opportunity to transfer back to Florida. During his time
in Orlando, Bill provided quality services to Blinded Veterans in
that area. Working with the FRG, Bill Wilson contributed greatly
to getting the BROS position established in Orlando. It was one
of the first BROS positions established directly with a VA
Medical Center and not funded through the National BVA work
with Congress and the VA Central Office. It is hoped that shortly
after you receive this Newsletter, Bill Wilson will be joining
Kathy Rodgers as one of the Tampa VAMC area VIST. BV's in
that area look forward to having both VIST positions filled for the
first time in 3 years.

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 2. Call one of those listed above to make
your reservations. If you make a reservation and can't come,
please call and cancel it before October 30. Come join us in
North Ft. Nyers on November 2 for an interesting and enjoyable

FRG Meeting Schedule:
November 2 FRG Meeting Cap'n FishboneRestaurant in Ft. Myers
December 7 FRG Meeting in Seminole
January 4th FRG Meeting Ocala Hilton Hotel
February ? FRG Meeting in Tampa
March ? FRG Meeting in Ft. Lauderdale
May 1-4 FRG State Convention Plaza Ocean Club in Daytona

Newsletter Staff
Terry King FRG President
George Stocking Newslettter Editor