FRG President's Message: The Florida
Regional Group (FRG) returned from the 70th Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) National
Convention, held in Louisville, Kentucky with the Gold Gavel Award. The Gold Gavel is
awarded to the Regional Group that signed up the most members during the past year.
Although the FRG has previously won this award and other awards from the BVA based on the
groups achievements, we can all take pride and pleasure in receiving this
recognition of the groups ongoing efforts. The Rosen Plaza Hotel in Orlando was a
wonderful setting for the September FRG Informational Luncheon. I would like to thank Jeff
and Amy Ebbers who helped with the arrangements and in hosting a good turnout of Blinded
Veterans (BVs) and their guests. Three of the BVs in attendance were WW II
veterans and over 90. Chris Collins, the Orlando VAMC VIST Coordinator described the
relocation to the new VA Facility. Cindy Perkins the Orlando BROS and Kevin Kistner the
new BROS for the Daytona Beach area described the plan for their providing service in
On a personal note, I invited my cousin and his wife to attend. Dr. Mel Evers and his wife Nancy have lived in the Kissimmee area since Mel graduated from optometrist school. Back in 1968, this recently married couple were attempting to get Mel enrolled in medical school. They were visiting Nancys parents on Staten Island, New York when they learned that I was in the Philadelphia Naval Hospital. Mel and Nancy are very smart individuals and after learning about the kind of troubles I had, most smart people would have avoided the situation. However, Mel and Nancy drove down to Philadelphia and even after seeing my condition, invited me to come for a weekend visit. At that time, I was totally blind hearing very little with both ear drums perforated; and one leg in a full length cast and the other leg missing below the knee. I also dont remember this being a time when my best thinking occurred. At the time, I had no clothes, except for hospital pajamas and a robe. With the little money they had, they went out and purchased me clothes for the weekend. This was one of the first time, but not the last, that people went out of their way to help me. Such an expression of love and support is precious and I hope that others had similar stories to tell. Why relate a personal story of kindness from others? No matter how long we have visually impaired or when it occurred, it is good to recall the help that others give in coping with adversity. If there is an actuary in our group, I would like to know the odds of this chance encounter at the Rosen Plaza FRG-BVA luncheon. My cousins wife Nancy Evers thought at Osceola High School for many years. After our meeting a BV in our group, came up to her and said Mrs. Evers, do you remember me? Many years ago, you taught me and my brother. Its a small world, isnt it?
Those who attended the Jacksonville FRG Luncheon meeting got to hear from the new VA Clinic Medical Director. Dr. Melinda Screws has the responsibility for facilities, personnel and programs that affect us in the Northeastern District. She described plans to improve services for veterans in the Jacksonville area. Come join us at the next FRG Informational Luncheon in North Ft. Myers on Saturday December 3. Mike Taylor, FRG President. (904) 264-0884 e mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
FRG Meetings: In recent years the FRG has held seven District Informational Luncheon Meetings around the state. This year due to changes in ownership and availability some changes had to be made. This year, due to last minute changes in construction, the meeting in Seminole had to be cancelled. The meeting, generally held in November in North Ft. Myers will be held there on December 5. The meetings in Ocala and Tampa have been switched. This year the Tampa meeting at the Columbia Restaurant will be held on January 9th and the meeting at the Hilton in Ocala will be held on February 13. The meeting in the Ft. Lauderdale area is still scheduled in March. Sorry the schedule had to be changed, however, we hope that this early notice will help Blinded Veterans to make plans to attend the various District meetings.
National Legislative Up-Date: At the writing of this Newsletter, Congress is involved in trying to agree on a budget for Fiscal Year 2016. As a result little other legislation is being considered. The BVA- PVA continue to work on S 171 and HR 288 the Beneficiary Travel for Blinded Veterans and Spinal Cord injured veterans to the Blind Rehabilitation Centers and Spinal Cord Injury Centers. Several more Senators and Representatives have signed on as co-sponsors of S 171 and HR 288. However, to date no Senators or Representatives from Florida have done so.
Miami VIST Coordinator: For the past 11 years, Roberta Goldstein has been the VIST Coordinator at the Miami VAMC. She retired on October 3rd. The FRG has been working with Paul Russo, Director of the Miami VAMC to replace Roberta as soon as possible. The position was advertised nationally and the application period closed. The applicants were screened by the Miami VAMC Human Resources (HR) and a list of eligible applicants completed. Interviews were held and a selection made. The Blind Rehabilitation Service Boarding Committee reviewed the applicants records and reported back to the Miami HR that she was qualified. The Miami HR is conducting a background check At present, no starting date has been made. When that information is available, it will be included in future FRG Newsletters.
FRG Meeting Reminder: Please join us at the next FRG Informational Luncheon Meeting at Capn Fishbone Restaurant in North Ft. Myers on Saturday, December 5th. Bring some fellow BVs with you and join us for an interesting and informative afternoon.
FRG Meeting Schedule
December 5 FRG meeting in North Ft. Myers
January 9 FRG meeting Columbia Restaurant in Tampa
February 13 FRG meeting at the Hilton Hotel in Ocala
March 19 FRG meeting in Ft. Lauderdale
April 28 - May 1 FRG State Convention Plaza Ocean Club Hotel
FRG Newsletter Staff
Mike Taylor FRG President
George Stocking Newsletter Editor