Chartered By The United States Congress
3801 Coco Grove Avenue
Miami, Florida 33133
(305) 446-8008
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FRG/BVA web site

Fellow Blinded Veterans: Let me, on behalf of the Officers, Directors, and
members of the Florida Regional Group, Blinded veterans Association, wish
you and your families, a Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, and Joyous, Happy,
and Prosperous New Year. As we enter 2015, let us be thankful for our
blessings and work cooperatively together throughout the New Year to
strengthen our organization and help our fellow Blinded Veterans.

FRG President's Message: It's likely that much of my recent
meanderings are just part of the aging process. Without question, I am
reminded daily that I am getting older. But one discovers that life, even
for individuals in the latter stages, may offer new opportunities. With the
new opportunities frequently come new challenges. For those new
opportunities I am grateful! The wisdom and strength to meet the challenges
those new opportunities present can make extraordinary demands on one's time
and resources. I have read and heard others remark on life's struggles. A
Texas politician, Barbara Jordon, said, "It's getting there that is more fun
than actually being there." If you are not facing new challenges in your
life, you may be ignoring new opportunities. FRG
members have opportunities to train and use technology that can greatly help
with our communication and mobility problems. I encourage members in 2015
that can learn Braille to make a start. Braille is literacy for the blind:
and literacy is a very good thing! Even learning the first ten letters of
the alphabet can be useful. Labeling your stuff with a system that is
identifiable to you can reduce frustration and promote satisfaction. Those
members that can benefit from Braille will make a difference in their lives
in 2016, if they begin learning Braille at the start of 2015. I am
attempting to arrange a demonstration of the Victor Reader Stream (VRS), New
Generation from Humanware at the FRG Convention in Daytona Beach April
30th-May3. This device has built-in networking capability. Those of us
already using the VRS may learn of additional capabilities, and those who
are not current users may be surprised of its capability and ease of
operation. Two features I frequently use are the internet radio, and the
pod cast portal. My niece's son plays football for Notre Dane, and I listen
to the games on my VRS. The Hadley School does seminars that they archive
and they are easily downloaded on this device. I've owned "Home
Entertainment Centers" that were nowhere as capable of providing the
diversity of content this little machine packs. I hope
that members are making their plans to attend our 2015 FRG Convention. Our
Board of Directors, with assistance from interested members, is suggesting
some changes for your consideration. This is your organization conducting
business that is transacted in your name and with the hope that it benefits
you. Please attend if you can, and be involved in blinded veterans helping
blinded veterans. Mike Taylor, FRG President.

If you have any question about the FRG activities or need information, the following is a list of the 2014-2015 FRG Board of Directors:

President - Mike Taylor Fleming Island (904) 264-0884 email; Vice President Gilda (Gigi) Mathis - Lakeland (863) 255-9275 e mail;
Secretary-Treasurer George Stocking - Miami (305) 446-8008 email;

Past President Terry King - Punta Gorda (941) 505-7747 email;

Northwest District - David Bigoney, Tallahassee (850)554-7819 email;

Northeast Curtis Smith - Wellborn (386) 393-3658 e mail;

Central West District Earl Bessent- Tampa (813) 286-1708 email;
Central East District James Carr - Lady Lake (352) 259-1702 e mail;

Southwest District James Duda - Naples (239) 450-6007 e mail;

Southeast District Jim McCoy - Sunrise (954) 748-9428 email

FRG Meeting Notice: The next meeting of the Florida Regional Group
will be held on Saturday, January 3, 2015 at the Hilton Hotel 3600 S.W. 36
Avenue in Ocala. Bruce Davis, VIST Coordinator at the Gainesville VAMC, has
assisted in making the arrangements for this meeting. The meeting will
begin at 11:30 AM with a period of socializing, followed by lunch at noon.
For lunch, you may select between: London Broil Marinated Flank Steak
Sliced Thin with Sherry Mushroom Sauce Served with Roasted Potatoes or
Chicken Cordon Bleu Chicken Breast Stuffed with Ham and Swiss Cheese Served
with roasted potatoes , All Above Served Lunches Include: Fresh Garden
Salad, Green Bean Almandine, rolls & butter, Freshly Brewed Colombian
Coffee, Iced Tea, and Chocolate Cake. The price of the lunch will be $5 per
person including tax & tip.

FRG President Mike Taylor will preside at an 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. Take this opportunity to come to Ocala and meet with your
fellow Blinded Veterans and have an informative and enjoyable afternoon.

The hotel has asked us to notify them as to the number who will be
attending and the choice of lunch desired before December 31st. Please make
your reservations prior to that date by writing to Bruce Davis, VIST
Coordinator, VAMC, 1601 S.W. Archer Road, Gainesville, FL 32608, or call
Bruce at (800) 324-8387 ex. 5560. You may also call Central East District
Director Jim Carr at: (352)629-6799,
Email You may also call Judy Hayes, Lake City VAMC
VIST Coordinator at (386) 755-3016 ex. 2088. Judy will try to provide
limited transportation from the Lake City VAMC to the meeting in Ocala, for
BV's in that area. Call Judy if you need transportation.

To get to the hotel, take I75 North or South to exit 350. Go East off
of I 75 on State road 200 to the first traffic Light and turn right on S.W.
36 Avenue. The Hilton hotel will be on your right. Free parking is
available at the hotel. If you need directions call the Hilton at (352)
854-1400. Do not call the hotel to make or cancel reservations, call one of
those listed above.

National Legislative Up-Date: congress passed a 1.7% cost of living
Adjustment (COLA) for service connected disability compensation, Dependency
and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), automobile grant, adaptive housing grant,
and clothing allowance. (Note: The automobile and adaptive housing grants
and the clothing allowance are available to service connected veterans with
specific s.c. disabilities authorizing such grants and allowance.) FYI The
large adaptive Housing Grant 2101A essentially S.C. veterans restricted to a
wheel chair or a totally blind BV with the loss of a lower extremity should
be $70,465 and the 2101 B grant for hand amputee or Blinded Veterans should
be $14093. The COLA is determined by the increase in the Consumer Price
Index (CPI) for the past fiscal year. This brings S.C. Compensation and DIC
in line with the COLA increase in Social Security and NSC VA Pension
benefits which are automatically increased according to the increase in the
CPI. As a result, a 1.7% increase in Service Connected disability
Compensation, Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), VA Non Service
Connected Pension, and Social Security benefits will be effective December
1st and will appear in your January checks.

At the writing of this Newsletter, Congress is in lame duck session to
complete work on appropriation measures or pass another Continuing
Resolution until January when the next Congress will convene. Following the
November 4th elections, the makeup of Congress has significantly changed and
it is unknown what will happen when the new Congress convenes. It is
unlikely that S 633 or HR 1284 the BVA and PVA measure to provide
beneficiary travel for Blinded Veterans and Spinal Cord injured veterans
whose income is above the income limitation will be considered in this lame
duck session. Glenn Minney, BVA Director of Government Affairs will begin
working with members of the Veterans Affairs Committees when the new
Congress convenes in January to reintroduce the beneficiary travel measure.

Membership reminder: It is only by joining together that we can make
our voices heard by the Nation and Congress. The strength of your voice is
needed by The BVA to make Congress and VA listen to the special needs of
Blinded Veterans. The recent BVA dues year ran from October 1, 2013
through September 30, 2014. There is a grace period from October 1 through
December31, 2014. If you are a Life Member (LM) or Associate Life Member
(ALM) you are paid up until perpetuity and never have to pay dues again. If
you are an annual Member (M) or Associate Member (AM) and have not renewed
your M or AM or not become a LM or ALM, your status will be changed to
Former Member (FM) or Former Associate Member (FAM) on December 31, 2014. On
the envelope in which this Newsletter is enclosed you will find a code next
to your name. If the code is LM or ALM you are a member for life. If the
Code is M or AM you are an annual Member or Associate Member. If the code
is M or AM and you have not renewed your dues, you will become a FM or FAM
on December 31, 2014. If the code is NM or NAM you have never joined the
BVA. We need the support of all Blinded Veterans to continue the work the
BVA has done for Blinded Veterans over the past 69 years. You will find a
membership application and return envelope in the print copy of this
Newsletter. Please use it to JOIN THE BVA TODAY. Annual dues are only
$15. Better yet, join as a Life Member (LM) or Associate Life Member (ALM),
then, you won't have to pay dues ever again. Your life dues go into the LM
Fund, the principal of which is never touched. The dividends and interest
from that fund are apportioned to the Regional Groups according to the
number of LM and ALM in the Group. LM and ALM dues run from $50 to $100
depending on your age. You may start a LM or ALM with a down payment of $25
with the balance payable over the next 2 years. The enclosed application
form indicates that Life and Associate Life Memberships run from $100 for
BV's age 44 and under, $88 for BV's 45 to 54, $75 - 55 to 60, $63 - 61-65,
and $50 age 66 and over. join the BVA. help to continue the work of
the BVA for all of us who benefit from the services available to us and to
insure that these services and benefits will continue to be available for
the Blinded Veterans who come after us. PLEASE USE THE APPLICATION AND

FRG Newsletter Recorded Version: The FRG Newsletter has been recorded
and distributed to BV's in Florida by the Florida Talking Book (TB) Library
in Daytona Beach for over 30 years. Up until March 2012, that version of
the FRG Newsletter was recorded on cassette tapes. Approximately 3 years
ago, the Library of Congress' National Library Service for the Blind and
physically handicapped changed from a cassette format to a digital format.
The new digital format is an excellent process and those who have used it
are very happy with the new format. The FRG Newsletter was the first
Newsletter produced in the digital format by the TB Library in Daytona
Beach. The cost of a digital cartridge is almost 20 times the cost of a
cassette tape. The TB Library needs for BV's to return the cartridge in
order to continue the service. Since the digital cartridge has significant
space, numerous copies of the FRG Newsletter may be recorded on each
cartridge, so you may listen to old issues if you choose. If you do not
have a TB digital player and are interested in Talking Book services, ask
your VIST Coordinator to refer you to the TB Library for this service. If
you have any difficulty in getting the service, call George Stocking at
(305) 446-8008 email

FRG Scholarship Program: For a number of years, the FRG has offered Two
one-thousand dollar ($1000) scholarships for the spouse or children of
Florida Blinded veterans. In January, letters will go out to all Members
and Associate Members of the Florida Regional Group asking for applicants
for the 2015-2016 academic year. These scholarships will be available to
the spouses and/or children of Blinded Veterans residing in Florida.
Applicants must complete the entire scholarship packet in order to qualify.
Watch for the announcement in January. For information, contact George
Stocking, FRG Secretary-Treasurer at 3801 Coco Grove Avenue, Miami, FL
33133, telephone (305) 446-8008 email The
application packet must be completed in its entirety to qualify and must be
received by the FRG by April 15, 2015.

Meeting Reminder: Please make your reservations for the January 3rd
FRG meeting in Ocala by calling Bruce Davis or one of the others listed
above before December 31st. Although the cost of the meal to you is only
$5, each meal guaranteed will cost your Regional Group over $17. So if you
make a reservation and can't come please call Bruce Davis before December 31
and cancel, so we won't have to pay for unused meals.

FRG-BVA Meeting Schedule
January 3 FRG Meeting Hilton Hotel in Ocala
February 7 FRG Meeting Columbia Restaurant in Tampa
March 21 FRG Meeting Tropical Acres Steakhouse Ft Lauderdale
April 30-May 3 FRG State Convention Plaza Ocean Club Hotel Daytona
August ? BVA National Convention Louisville, Kentucky

Newsletter Staff
Mike Taylor FRG President
George Stocking Newsletter Editor