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FRG-BVA Web site:
NEWSLETTER - November 2013

FRG President's Message: I am allocating a large part of this presidents message relating to our
FRG List Serve. For those of you that are not aware of the list serve, let me attempt to explain its
function, how to sign up, and some of the problems about which we have just been made aware, that
have been going on for some time. First of all the list serves uses your email address in your
computer for receiving important information concerning blinded veterans, such as pending
legislation, special notices from the VA and other sources. This written newsletter that you are
reading, also goes out over the list serve for our blinded veterans to read on their computers. We also
have the list serve setup for the veterans to send out messages from their computers, to members that
are on the list serve. For example, articles that you come across that you feel may be of interest to
other veterans. You can ask any and all questions that you may have. There is a problem that we
have been experiencing for some time now. We are finding out that veterans that have signed up and
have been using the list serve, under no fault of their own, are being drop by our carrier, and for
others that have just signed up have not been accepted on the list, again by our carrier. We are
currently attempting to solve this dilemma. I urge those that are having the forgoing problem
mentioned, to please have patients for we are working on the problem, and if necessary will just
change carriers. One more item concerning the list serve, and that is if you had requested to be put
on the list serve, and have never received an email from the list, then please call or email me, as there
has been a glitch between the FRG and the carrier. Also if a week goes by and you do not receive a
message on the list serve, then likewise give me a call. I cannot understate to strongly how important
this mode of communications is for quickly passing on information that is, in some cases, urgent for
veterans to receive. One more item before I sign off on the list serve issue. If you are receiving a
written copy of the newsletter, then you are eligible to be put on the list serve. We have some
veterans that do not use computers, and in that case we have expanded the eligibility, by allowing a
member of the family, or a friend that is in contact with the veteran to also be eligible for the list
serve. That way the family member can bring the information to the attention of the veteran. Our
road rules are very simple. The only restrictions are no arguing with other veterans, no religious
comments, no jokes, and no partisan politics. Legislative issues relating to the services and benefits
of interest to veterans and their families are appropriate. In some cases items that may impact
blinded veterans negatively are also appropriate. I almost forgot one very important item, you must
have an email address in order to be put on the list serve. Our goal is to have over 700 veterans
signed up. After all, the VA gives and trains us on computers, therefore let's put them to use. To sign
up, just give me a call at 941 505-7747, or email me at: You may also
contact the moderator Bill Stockslager at (941) 276-1561, also assistant moderator Jim McCoy at
(954) 748- 9428.

Before closing this presidents message I would like to urge persons that make reservations for our
informational luncheon meetings, to please let us know at least 3 days before the commencement of
the luncheon if you are unable to attend after making reservations. For an example at the
Jacksonville luncheon there were 14 persons that made reservations but did not call us and inform us
that they would not be able to attend. This cost our FRG treasury $284.76 that we had to pay out for
those that did not show up or give us a call. Once again please let us know if you are unable to
attend after you have made reservations, because if you don't it's just money down the drain.

At our recent FRG State Convention, David Kinney was elected as Central East District Director.
Due to some personal family and health problems that have arisen recently, he has decided to step
down as the Central East district director. He informed me that he of course would like to stay on as
an assistant director, and do whatever he can as he works through his family problems. Donald
Overton has agreed to step up and fill the central East district Director Position. He is a Desert
Storm Blinded veteran who attended the last two FRG District meetings in Orlando and Jacksonville.
He has also been working with Tom Zampieri on national legislation. I am sure that he will make an
excellent FRG District Director. Welcome aboard Donald Overton. We are still looking for a
blinded veteran to fill the Northeast district director position in and around the Jacksonville area. I
want, once again, to indicate that there is absolutely no traveling involved. The basic job is to
coordinate the assistants that are within the North East sector using the phone, and the computer. We
are also looking for assistants, and there responsibilities are only to make phone calls, and gather
information from our Blinded Veterans on their welfare using a pre prepared questionnaire. I believe
that our very low attendance at the Jacksonville luncheon is from a result of the lack of us having the
necessary leadership in place. Therefore I would genuinely urge some of our Blinded Veterans to
give me a phone call, so that I can have the opportunity to explain in detail the duties of a District
Director, and or an assistant Director. Terry King, FRG President

FRG Meeting Notice: The next meeting of the Florida Regional Group will be held on Saturday,
December 7, at the Lake Seminole Square 8333 Seminole Blvd. in Seminole. The meeting will begin
with a period of socializing at 11:30 AM, followed by lunch at noon. For lunch, you may have Grilled
Breast of Chicken Picatta with dijon dressing or Sliced Tenderloin of beef with natural mushroom aus
jus each with salad with Honey Dijon Dressing and Garlic Parmesan Potatoes, Glazed Carrots, Rolls
& Butter, Iced Tea or Coffee and surprise for dessert. A complementary glass of white or zinfandeel
wine is available upon request. The registration for the luncheon will be $5 per person. 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 presented. Future FRG
activities will be discussed.

The restaurant has asked us to notify them as to the number who will be attending and the type of
luncheon desired before December 3rd. Please make your reservations prior to that date by writing to
Central West Director Earl Bessent4526 Woodmere Road, Tampa, FL 33609 or call (813) 286-1708
email In the Lakeland area call Gigi Mathis at: (863) 255-9275 and in
Pasco County call Charles Poff at: (727) 372-3720. In St. Petersburg, you may call the Bay Pines
VIST Coordinator Delva Freeman at (727) 398-6661 ex 1-4516. In Tampa, call VIST Coordinator
Kathy Rodgers at (813) 972-2000 ex 2225. The restaurant needs the reservation information in order
to prepare properly for our meeting.

To get to Lake Seminole Square in Pinellas County, take US Highway 19 Alternate north or south
until it becomes Seminole Blvd. Lake Seminole Square will be on the east side of the street. There are
4 American Flags in front of the building. From the Tampa area, take I 75 north or south to I 275 south.
Go across the Gandy Bridge to exit 28 which is State Road 694, which becomes Park Blvd. Continue
west 8 miles to Seminole BLVD. with is US Highway 19 Alternate. Turn right and go 0.6 mile Lake
Seminole Square will be on your right. From the east (Orlando, etc.) take I 4 west to I 275 then
continue as above. From Sarasota take I 75 north to exit 228 merge on to I 275, go north 28 miles to
exit 28 merge on to Gandy-Park blvd., go west 8 miles to Seminole Blvd., turn north. From levy,
Citrus, and Pasco Counties, take US 19 to Park Blvd right (west) on Park to Seminole Blvd. turn north
0.6 mile to Seminole Square on your right. If you need directions, call Lake Seminole Square at
(727) 392-3932. Do not call Lake Seminole Square for reservations but one of those listed above. Free
Parking is available. Join us on Saturday, December 7th in Seminole. We look forward to meeting you

National Legislative Up-Date: Congress spent most of September and the first part of October
arguing over the appropriations for FY 2014. Fortunately after several years, in 2009, through the
efforts of a number of Veterans Service organization, including the BVA, Congress passed legislation
requiring Congress to pass an advanced funding appropriation a year in advance for the Veteran Health
Administration (VHA). When the 2013 appropriation for VHA was passed it included a $1.6 billion
increase Advanced Funding for VHA for FY 2014. As a result, VHA was the only organization that
did not close down on October 1. As a result of the controversy, S 932 was introduced into the Senate.
It would require Congress to pass a similar Advanced Funding law for the Veterans Benefits
Administration (VBA) and other units of the Department of Veterans Affairs. More recently,
Representative Jeff Miller, Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee and Mike Machaud
ranking minority leader have introduced HR 813 into the House. It is hoped that now that the
appropriation controversy is temporarily alleviated, Congress will follow through and pass S932 and
HR 813. We urge BV's to contact their US Senators and Representatives and urge them to pass S 932
and HR 813.

Automobile Grant: Effective October 1, the one time automobile grant available to eligible service
connected veterans was increased from $19, 505 to $19,817. Following WW II, the grant was
established providing $1600 for eligible service connected veterans to purchase an automobile. At that
time it would purchase an automobile. It remained at that level through the Korean Conflict and
expired on January 31, 1955. In 1966, Congressman Dante Fascele from Miami, at the request of the
FRG, introduced legislation to restore the Automobile Allowance and provide it to all eligible disabled
veterans from January 31, 1955 and for the future. AT that time, it remained at $1600. Over the
years, Congress has increased it a number of times. Several years ago, through the efforts of a number
of Veterans Service Organizations, including the BVA, legislation was passed to provide a Cost of
Living Adjustment (COLA) for the automobile grant each year.

In Memory: It is with sadness that we report the death of Michael Commini (1924-2013). Mike
was born in Trenton, New Jersey where his family was in the restaurant business. While in school, he
worked in the family business and was proud of his cooking skills. In 1942, he entered the Army and
was assigned to the infantry. In 1943 while serving in Southern Italy, he was involved in the Anzio
Beachhead landing. One night, while serving as point man in a patrol, he was wounded in the head. As
a result, he was left totally blind. After basic medical treatment in Italy, he was transferred to Valley
Forge Army General Hospital to complete treatment and take blind rehabilitation training.
Subsequently, he was transferred to Avon Old Farms Army Convalescent Hospital in Connecticut for
advanced blind rehab training. While there he was involved in the formation of the BVA and was a
Charter Member of the BVA. While at Avon, mike traveled to New York City to take voice training.
He had an excellent voice and wanted to sing in the opera. Unfortunately, he never realized that goal,
although during most of his life, Mike sang on many occasions. As a Charter Member of the BVA he
remained active in the BVA throughout his life. In the 1950's, Mike came to South Florida and
continued his interest in the BVA. On March 28, 1958, Mike got 4 other BV's together in his living
room and formed the Florida Regional Group and was its first President. Upon arriving in Miami, Mike
got into the Randolph -Sheppard Vending stand Program. For many years, he operated a vending stand
in the Coral Gables Post Office. Later, when that program expanded to food service, he operated a
cafeteria in the South Dade Government Center. Mike was very active in his church and became an
ordained minister. At one time, he served as the Cantor in a Jewish-Christian Church. Following
Father Carroll's death in 1971, the BVA did not have a Chaplain for several years. In 1975, Mike
Commini became the first Blinded veteran to hold the position of chaplain in the BVA. Mike is
survived by his wife Gertrude (Trudy), daughter Candy and sons Michael Jr., Gerard, and Daniel. Mike
was buried in the Veterans Cemetery in Boynton Beach-Lake Worth, Florida.

Jacksonville VIST Coordinator: We have been working with Dr. R. Daniel Morgann, VA
Outpatient Clinic Chief Medical Officer regarding replacing Louise Di Gennaro who retired on August
31st. FYI Louise was honored at the October 5th FRG meeting in Jacksonville. Dr. Morgann and his
staff have worked quickly to recruit candidates for a new VIST Coordinator. The position was
announced and the application period closed. Applications were received and screened. Interviews
were held and a tentative selection has been made. This has been turned over to Human Resources who
will go through the process to board the applicant to be sure that the applicant is certified according to
VA Blind Rehabilitation Service (BRS) requirements. That is a slow process. We will keep you
informed about the starting date for the new VIST Coordinator in Jacksonville.

Miami VAMC Broward Outpatient Clinic BROS: In July, the Broward VAOPC Bros resigned and
returned up north and the Miami VAMC BROS transferred to the new VA Blind Rehabilitation Center
in Long Beach, California. There was a delay in announcing the two openings. The announcement has
been made and the application period has closed. The applications are now being reviewed. It is hoped
that in the near future, interviews will be scheduled. Once selections have been made, Human
Resources will have to board the selected persons and determine if the applicants have the necessary
certifications for the BRS requirements. As it becomes available, information regarding these positions
will appear in future FRG Newsletters.

FRG-BVA Meeting Schedule:

December 7 FRG Meeting at Lake Seminole square in Seminole
January 4 FRG meeting Ocala Hilton Hotel
February ? Proposed FRG meeting in Tampa
March ? Proposed FRG meeting in the Ft. Lauderdale area
May 1-4 FRG State Convention Plaza Ocean Club Hotel Daytona
August 18-22 BVA National Convention in Reno, Nevada

FRG Newsletter Staff
Terry King FRG President
George Stocking Newsletter Editor