3801 Coco Grove Avenue  
Miami, Florida 33133 

NEWSLETTER - August 2005


          FRG President's Message:   Fellow Blinded Veterans of the FRG:  Welcome once again, as we embark on another season of informational luncheon meetings around the state.  Last year, we attempted to hold our first informational luncheon meeting in Orlando, but were forced to cancel it because of all of the unusual hurricanes that plagued Florida.  This year, we have signed an agreement with "Mother Nature" and we are confident that she will keep her part of the agreement and not send another hurricane to interrupt our luncheon meetings.  Details about the upcoming informational luncheon meeting will appear later in this Newsletter.  This year, I intend to primarily concentrate my messages to you on legislation, because of the growing unrest concerning benefits and compensation for disabled Veterans.  It is becoming more important, than ever, that we let the US Senate and House of Representatives know that there are a large number of Blinded Veterans that are in need of specialized rehabilitative services and health care by the VA.  Just to mention a couple of changes that have taken place in Washington:  The Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee has been replaced by Steve Buyer.  Based on previous statements that he has made, it does not appear to look favorable for some of our veterans.  Secondly, a Commission has been established to look into the benefits and compensation that is currently being provided to veterans.  I realize the objective is to lower the national dept.  However, we must not allow it to be reduced at the cost of benefits to the disabled veterans.  Tom Zampieri, newly appointed BVA Governmental Relations Director, is sending out information to all Presidents of the BVA Regional groups, that is felt to be important to Blinded Veterans.  This will now give us the opportunity to include this information in the FRG Newsletters that we are currently sending to 2200 Blinded Veterans in Florida.  This will keep you up to date with the developments that are occurring in Washington.  We also, from time to time, will be asking you to contact your Senators and Representatives to express your concern about pending legislation.  I shall close this message by asking again that "Mother Nature" keep her agreement and let us hold our first three meetings and of course don't let her forget the National Convention at the Wyndham Hotel on Miami Beach  August 16-20.  This will be the first BVA National Convention in Florida since 1987 and we hope it is a great success.  The Convention will open with the President's Reception on Tuesday, August 16.  Dr. Jonathan Perlin VA Under Secretary for Health will be the Key Note Speaker at the Opening Business Meeting on Wednesday.    I'm hoping to see many of our FRG members and their wives at the Convention.  I'm confident that we will all enjoy the very large gambling ship on Thursday and the evening dinner and dance on Friday night.  The closing Business Meeting will be held on Saturday at which Officers for the coming year will be elected.   The Convention will close with the Awards Banquet Saturday evening.  Those of you who can't make the National Convention, remember to join us in Orlando on September 10 for the first FRG meeting of the fall.  Terry King, FRG President.


          FRG Auxiliary President's Message:  We look forward to seeing many of you at the BVA National Convention on Miami Beach August 16-20.  Join us there.  This month my message is from Joyce Thornton, our FRG Auxiliary Scholarship Chairperson.  Joyce has a very interesting message for all of you.  Joanne King, FRG Auxiliary President.


          Opportunity for Scholarship Awards:  I hope that this year, the dependents of Florida Blinded Veterans will not pass up their opportunity to apply for one of our two $1000 FRG Auxiliary Scholarships.  Last year, we received inquiries but no applications were completed and returned.  I hope that some of the children or spouses of Florida BV's are not over looking the variety of categories that the Scholarship Committee considers.  Our focus is always on children that wish to go on to school, but let's not forget that the Scholarship Awards are not just for college students.  They are also for persons who wish to go into a trade or set up a business or advance their education in some other way.  We do honor requests for those who wish to go to vocational technical schools.  Please do not forget that the Scholarship is also possible for spouses and widows of Florida BV's that might want to launch a new career.  For example, a widowed person who finds that he or she has time on their hands and would like to pursue a dream that they didn't have time for earlier in their life.  I happen to know of a widow who has always loved to bake and would like to start a made-to-order bakery in her home.  Perhaps, there is another area in which one might like to work.  Anything is possible and the Scholarship Committee is willing to examine all requests.  The thing that we are looking for is a commitment to the endeavor that the applicant is requesting.  A sincere and honest application of your life long dreams will certainly be considered.  The Scholarship letter will be sent out at the beginning of 2006.  Hopefully, we will be able to award Scholarships to worthy persons this year.  One of our recipients of Scholarships for three years in a row, is the daughter of a Florida BV.  We were able to assist her to complete her undergraduate degree and through her Master's Degree, as well.  Now, she has received a complete grant from Homeland Security to study for her doctors degree.  She is majoring in physics and is promised a position with the government when she has completed her studies.  She stated that because of the FRG Auxiliary, she has been able to achieve her dream of being a PhD in physics.  This young lady has also assisted her parents and her grandmother financially.  It is stories like this that makes the FRG Auxiliary feel that the Scholarships are worthwhile.  We are willing to extend a helping hand; All you have to do is to fill out an application.  I hope, this year, to hear from all of you who are interested in advancing your education or career.  Joyce Thornton, FRG Auxiliary Scholarship Chairperson.


          BVA Caps:  Paul Kaminsky took orders for BVA baseball and overseas caps at the FRG State Convention.  There was a mix up in the orders and a few BV's have not yet received their caps.  If you ordered a cap and have not received it call Paul Kaminsky at (904) 291-0576 or write to Paul at 4295 Powder Horn Court, Middleburg, FL  32068.  


          District Director Change:  As reported in the June FRG Newsletter, Rick Calissi was elected Central East District Director.  Recently, Rick sent a letter to FRG President Terry King resigning from that position.  Rick wrote that he would be unable to continue as Central East District Director due to health and personal reasons.  We wish Rick good luck and hope that his health improves.  In his letter, Rick indicated that he would continue to work as Assistant District Director with the FRG.  According to the FRG By-Laws, a vacancy in a District Director position would be filled by the President nominating a replacement with the approval of the FRG Board of Directors.  President King nominated Dwight Sayer to fill the Central East District Director position.  The FRG Board approved that appointment and Dwight Sayer has taken up his duties.  He served in that position last year and made the arrangements for our upcoming Orlando meeting.                                          


          FRG Meeting Notice:  The next meeting of the Florida Regional Group will be held on Saturday, September 10, at the Rosen Centre Hotel  9840 International Drive in Orlando.  The meeting will begin with a period of socializing at 11:30 AM, followed by lunch at noon.  FRG Central East District Director Dwight Sayer has made the arrangements for this meeting.  After having our September 2004 meeting in Orlando cancelled due to the hurricanes, this will be the first time the FRG has actually met in Orlando for many years.  Let's make it a memorable event.  For lunch, you may have Breast of Chicken  Piaccato over  Linguini and Garden Salad, Vegetable, Rolls & Butter, Tea or Coffee, and Dessert.  The price of the lunch will be $7 per person, including tax and tip. 


          FRG President Terry King will preside at the meeting following lunch.  Dwight Sayer is working on an exciting Guest Speaker.  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.  Information about the FRG Auxiliary will be presented.


          The restaurant has asked us to  notify them as to the number who will be attending by September 7th.  Please make your reservations prior to that date by writing to Dwight Sayer at: 259 Regal Downs Circle, Winter Gardens, FL 34787 or call Dwight at: (407) 877-1970.  In addition, you may call Tony Kirksey, VIST Coordinator at the Orlando VA Outpatient Clinic, at: (407) 599-1353.  If Tony is not available, leave a message on his answering machine.  Please speak distinctly and spell the names of each person who will attend.  In the Ocala area, call Rick Calissi at (352) 629-6799.  The restaurant needs the reservation information in order to prepare properly for our meeting.


          To get to the Rosen Centre Hotel from Tampa and the Gulf Coast, take I 4 East to exit 72, take 528 East (Bee line Expressway) to exit no. 1- International Drive.  Turn right on International Drive, the Rosen Center will be on your left before the Convention Center.  From Daytona or the East Coast, take I 4 and continue as above.  From the North or South on the Turnpike, go to exit 259.  Take I 4 West to exit 72 and continue as above.  Note:  The Orlando Convention Center is between the Rosen Centre Hotel and the Rosen Plaza Hotel.  Our meeting is in the Rosen Centre, so be sure you have the correct hotel.  Free Parking is available   in a parking garage behind the hotel.  Check with your fellow Blinded veterans, family members, and friends and make plans to join us in Orlando on Saturday,  September 10th.  We look forward to meeting you there.


          FRG PR Director's Message:  Dear Fellow Blinded Veterans:  As indicated in President King's message, the BVA National Convention will be held at the Wyndham Hotel on Miami Beach August 16-20.  Try to attend.  If you can't, let's plan for the FRG upcoming meetings this fall.    In preparation, I would like to issue a few reminders.  It is not too early for District Directors to begin to think and plan for "White Cane Day" and any fund raising activities which may be associated with this date.  Last year, we in the Southwest District were fortunate enough to raise $775 by participating in a "Walk A Thon".  Although, only a few Blinded Veterans actually walked, many BV's in our District generously donated money and we walked on their behalf.  The money raise by such activities will be used to offset the cost of the extra luncheons around the state.  The extra luncheons/meetings enable the Florida Regional Group to actively be in contact with more Blinded Veterans around the state. 


          As you know, we now have 1315 members in the FRG and we are now shooting for 1500 by the end of the year.  Those of you who are reading/listening to this article and are not dues paying members, now is the time to act, join us and be a Life Member. It's a bargain, really.  If you have been reading/listening to the BVA Bulletin and FRG Newsletters, then you know that there is an urgent need to contact your US Senators and Representatives to urge them to properly fund the VA Health Care System and not to cut it.  The leadership has changed In the House Veterans Affairs Committee and not for the better, either.  Letters, emails, and telephone messages need to be sent to our members of Congress urging them to do the right thing.  Thank you,  see you at the next BVA FRG meeting, Mike Toomey, Sw District Director..


          Remember to mark your calendar for Saturday, September 10th, so that you, your family members, and friends,  may attend the FRG meeting at the Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando.  Be sure to call Dwight Sayer,  or the others listed above and make your reservations, before September 7th.  If you make a reservation and can't come, please call and cancel your reservation before September 7th.  The FRG will pay $12 for each meal we guarantee.  So, we don't want to pay for meals not used.  Contact some of your friends and make This an informative, interesting, and enjoyable afternoon.  So, make plans to join us in Orlando on Saturday, September 10.


BVA and FRG Meeting Schedule


August 16-20
September 10
October 1
November 5
December  3
January 7
BVA National Convention Wyndham Hotel Miami Beach
Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando
FRG meeting in Jacksonville
FRG meeting in Ft. Myers
FRG meeting in Clearwater
FRG meeting in Ocala


Newsletter Staff


Terry King 
Joanne King
Mike Toomey
Joyce Thornton 
George Stocking
FRG President
FRG Auxiliary President
FRG Southwest District Director
FRG Auxiliary Scholarship Committee Chairperson