BLINDED VETERANS Association
FLORIDA REGIONAL GROUP, INC.
3801 Coco Grove Avenue ē Miami, Florida 33133
NEWSLETTER - February 2005
Cassette Newsletter: The Florida Regional Group Newsletter has been recorded and distributed by the Florida Talking Book Library in Daytona Beach for over 20 years. This has been a wonderful help to Blinded Veterans (BVís) who canít read print material. It permits them to listen to the cassette and reread it without the assistance of a sighted reader. The FRG and BVís in Florida are most appreciative to have this service provided to us free of charge by the TB Library. Since some BVís do not have a Library of Congress Cassette player, they can listen to the Newsletter on a standard tape recorder. The Talking Book Machines play material on 2 speeds and up to 4 tracks. Talking Book are generally recorded at the slow speed, 15/16 inches per second (IPS) on 4 tracks. However, since some BVís do not have the Talking Book player, the TB Library records our Newsletter on 2 tracks at the standard tape recorder speed (1 7/8 inches per second). Consequently you do not need to have a talking Book player but may listen to the FRG Newsletter on a standard tape recorder. Of course, you may use a Talking Book player if you place the control on the faster (1 7/8 IFS) on tracks 1 and
2.††† Some BVís have a CCTV or sufficient remaining vision to read the Newsletter visually. Many of them prefer to not use the cassette version. If you receive the Cassette version of the FRG Newsletter and do not need it, please let us know. We can remove your name from the labels used by the Talking Book Library to mail the cassette version. An easy way for you to notify the FRG you do not want the cassette version is to tear off your address label on the print copy of this Newsletter, print cancel cassette on the back and mail it to the FRG at 3801 Coco Grove Avenue, Miami, FL 33133. We will remove your name from the recorded version. Since it takes some lime to process a Newsletter, you may receive one more recorded version after you notify us. Since the BVA prints the labels for both the print and recorded versions of the FRG Newsletter, contacting the Talking Book Library only delays having your name removed from the list. From time to time, BVís write to the Talking Book Library saying that they canít read the cassette. Generally, this is because they try to use the slow speed (15/16 IFS) rather than the standard speed on which it is recorded. We greatly appreciate the work done by the Talking Book Library in recording our Newsletter. If you donít need the cassette version, please let us know as it will reduce the volunteer work done for us by the TB Library. If you are not a Talking Book Library client, and wish to receive that service, you may call the toll free number at (800) 226-6075. Those of us who use that service feel that it is a tremendous program. The books are recorded by professional readers and do an excellent job. If you are interested in entertainment and information, it is an excellent resource. The service is free and the mailing is also free.
FRG Presidentís Message: With Bruce Davis (Gainesville VIST Coordinator), Dwight Sayer, Rick Ca]issi, and others, spearheading the luncheon meeting held on January 8 in Ocala~ we almost had a record attendance. Several years ago, we had 184 in attendance at that
meeting. This year we had 180. They almost broke their previous record. The socializing was so overwhelming, that I had some difficulty calling the meeting to order so that we might introduce the Speakers Table and those in the audience. There were approximately 17 first timers in attendance. Based on the number of membership applications picked up, we shall soon have an increase in membership. Over all, it was a very enjoyable luncheon meeting. This Newsletter is being written just prior to the FRG meeting at the MacDill Air Force Base Enlisted Club in Tampa. You will receive it after that meeting is over.
Now, I have some very important information for all of those non members and former members who are receiving the BVA Bulletin and FRG Newsletter. Last Spring, all of our VIST Coordinators in Florida cooperated by mailing out a letter explaining the importance of the Blinded Veterans Association in their continuing advocacy efforts for the benefits for all Blinded Veterans. From that mailing, we increased our Bulletin and Newsletter circulation by 60%. Now, we are embarking on the second stage of that membership drive, that is, the calling of all of the non members and former members on our membership list. By the time you read this Newsletter, I will have sent out an up-to-date membership list to our six District Directors. They, in turn, will distribute their individual list of local BVís to their Assistant Directors. Therefore, over the next several months you should be receiving a telephone call asking you to help support the continuing efforts of the Blinded Veterans Association by joining the growing ranks of BVA members. The membership dues that are collected are used for the following purposes: A. Newsletter mailing B. Subsidizing the informational luncheon meetings C. Annual filing of our non-profit corporate status and D. Subsidizing of our State Convention in Daytona Beach Shores. All of the advocacy work that is continuing to be done by the leaders of the FRG, is done on a volunteer basis. Having served four years as your FRG President, there is one thing that I have most definitely learned, that is, in order for us to continue our current benefits, we must have a strong and viable service organization, such as the Blinded Veterans Association. Therefore, I urge all non and former members to join to give us the numbers so that Congress and the VA will be more receptive to our requests. We look forward to meeting you at the final district meeting in Oakland Park on Saturday, March 5. Last year, we held the Southeast District luncheon meeting in Pompano Beach. This meeting will be held at the American Legion in Oakland Park because of a change in food service management at the Elks Club. Please join us at the American Legion in Oakland Park. Terry King, FRG President
FRG Auxiliary Presidentís Message: This will be a short message. The meeting in Ocala almost broke the record for attendance. It did break the record for our 50-50 raffle, as we raised $218 for our Scholarship Fund. Watch for information about the FRG Auxiliary Scholarship Program later in this Newsletter. This is being written just prior to the ERG meeting at the Enlisted Club at MacDill AFB in Tampa. So, we hope that will be another great meeting and we will raise even more from the raffle for our Scholarships Program. We look forward to meeting you at the last District meeting, before the State Convention, at the American Legion in Oakland Park on March 5. Joanne King, FRG Auxiliary President
FRG Meeting Notice: The next meeting of the Florida Regional Group will be held on Saturday, March 5, at the American Legion Post 222, 4250 N.E. 5 Avenue in Oakland Park.†
US Legislative Up-Date: The 109 Congress convened on January 4. After some organizational meetings to select Committee Chairman and members, Most of Congress recessed until the Inauguration. Veterans are concerned about the leadership in the House of Representatives for by-passing Chris Smith of New Jersey for his last 2 years as Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. Representative Smith has been on the Veterans Affairs Committee since he came to Congress about 25 years ago. During that time, he has been a strong supporter for veterans services. He has been replaced by Steve Buyer of Indiana who is a fiscal conservative and questions the expansion of medical service to all veterans. Representative Smith clashed with the House leadership last year over the funding of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). Ultimately, a compromise was made and some additional funding was provided to the VHA. Evidently, the House leadership was displeased with Representative Smithís efforts to by-pass the recommendations of the Office of Management and Budget (0MB) as outlined in the Presidentís budget. It is time for all veterans to write to their Senators and Representatives and encourage them to properly fund the VHA. Otherwise, there will be cuts in services to veterans. When that happens, cost intensive programs such as those for Blinded Veterans often suffer.
FRG Auxiliary Scholarship: The FRG Auxiliary will offer two $1000 scholarships to the spouse or child of a Florida Blinded Veterans for the 2005-2006 school year. These scholarships are not available to grandchildren. Individuals who have applied previously may apply again but must submit a new application. The scholarship is merit based and may be used for college, university, vocational or technical school training. For information and/or an application contact ERG Auxiliary Scholarship Chairperson Joyce Thornton, VLST Coordinator, Veterans Outpatient Clinic, 3033 Winkler Extension, Ft. Myers, Florida 33916 or call Joyce at (239) 939-3939 ex 6284. Completed application materials must be received by April 15,2005.
Please join us at the American Legion Post 222 in Oakland Park, on Saturday, March 5 for an informative and enjoyable afternoon. Remember to make your reservations by March 2, so that proper arrangements may be made for the luncheon.
BVA - FRG Meeting Schedule
ERG Meeting at the American Legion in Oakland Park
April 29- May 1
ERG State Convention Daytona Beach Shores
BVA National Convention in Miami Beach
This will be our first meeting at this location. The meeting will begin at 11:30 AM, with a period of socializing, followed by lunch at noon. For lunch, you may select from Roast Beef or Chicken and Salad, Potatoes, Vegetables, Rolls and Butter, Iced Tea or Coffee, and Dessert. The price of the lunch will be $7 per person, including tax and tip. Beer, wine, and mixed drinks will be available at an additional charge.
FRG President Terry King will preside at the meeting following lunch. A national legislative up-date will be provided. Plans for ERG activities for the coming months, including the ERG State Convention in Daytona Beach Shores, will be discussed. This will be your opportunity to make suggestions and recommendations regarding these FRG activities. Representatives from the Department of Veterans Affairs will be on hand to provide information about services and benefits of interest to Blinded Veterans and their families. Information about FRG Auxiliary activities will be presented.
The restaurant has asked us to notify them as to the number who will be attending and the type of meal desired by March 2. You may make your reservations by writing to Paul Mimms, ERG Southeast District Director at: 8069 Via Hacienda, West Palm Beach, FL 33418. Paul is also the VIST Coordinator at the WPB VAMC and you may call him at (561) 422-5260 or evenings and weekends at: (561) 863-1407. You may also make your reservations by calling: Roberta Goldstein, Miami VAMC VIST Coordinator, at (305) 3244455 ex 3607 or Bob Gross, Oakland Park VA Outpatient Clinic VIST Coordinator, at: (954) 229-7791. Please be sure to make your reservations as the restaurant needs this information in order to plan properly for our meeting.
To get to the American Legion Post, take 195 North or South to Oakland Park Blvd. Go East 1.5 miles to N.E. 5 Avenue, then turn left (North). Go .9 mile on N.E. 5 Avenue. The American Legion Post is in a white building with blue awnings on the right side of the street. Parking is available adjacent to the building. Attempts are underway to provide limited transportation from West Palm Beach and Miami. For information contact VIST Coordinators Paul Mimnis or Roberta Goldstein. Please mark March 5 on your calendar and make plans to join us for an enjoyable and interesting afternoon. We look forward to meeting you there.
New Tampa VAMC Director: Forest Farley took up his duties as the new Director of the Tampa VA Medical center shortly before Christmas. He replaced newly retired Richard Silver who held that position from the time the Medical Center opened in 1972. Mr. Farley grew up in the St. Petersburg area. A highly decorated Marine Corps Veteran of Vietnam, Mr. Farley started his VA career as a Counselor at the St. Petersburg Vet Center in 1981. Prior to coming to the Tampa VAMC, Mr. Farley served as the Director of the Lexington VAMC in Kentucky. Previous to that, he served as Associate Director of the Cleveland VAMC and the Northern Indiana Veteran Health Care System.
Prior to starting his federal service, Mr. Farley earned a Bachelorís Degree in Communications from the University of South Florida. Later, he earned Graduate Certificates in Public Health from Harvard University, Illinois University at Chicago, and the University of Pennsylvania. Mr. Farley is married and has 5 children. Blinded Veterans in Florida welcome Mr. Farley back to Florida and wish him good luck in this important position. We look forward to working cooperatively with him in the coming years.†