Blinded Veterans Association Florida Regional Group Official Website

BLINDED VETERANS ASSOCIATION
Chartered by the United States Congress

FLORIDA REGIONAL GROUP
3801 Coco Grove Avenue
Miami, Florida 33133
(305) 446-8008
email
gstocking@bellsouth.net
FRGBVA web site:  frgbva.org
FRG Newsletter November 2017

FRG President’s Message:

   Here is a very important message from your president, and your board of directors. We are no longer able to contact many of our veterans because of incorrect phone numbers or phones had been disconnected because many veterans have gone to cell phones.  And in many cases not even by home addresses, because they may have moved.  Therefore because we are unable to contact around 750 of our veterans we are launching a campaign to recover phone numbers and addresses that have been lost by veterans that have moved, and have gone to cell phones. If you have not heard from any one from the FRG board of directors, then it is possible that we do not have your current phone number. Also if you have not received an FRG newsletter then we also may not have your correct address. If you have any doubt about your phone or address, please contact one of the following FRG Board Members:

Terry King, Punta Gorda (941)505-7747 e-mail tnking18@earthlink.net

Nate Gorham, Ft. Myers Beach, (407)797-5889 e-mail npgorham@gmail.com

George Stocking, Miami (305)446-8008 e-mail gstocking@bellsouth.net

District Directors:

David Zang, Fleming Island (904)529-9376 e-mail davidzang@prowmstrs.com

David Malinowski, Cedar Key (352)543-9411 e-mail damalinows@hotmail.com

Carlos Pere’ Riverview, (813)486-4817 e mail pere0608@gmail.com

Jeff Ebbers Oviedo (407)473-5098 e-mail jsefrgbva@gmail.com

Anna Clarke , Cape Coral  (239)789-6708 e-mail luke236alc@gmail.Com

Jim McCoy, Sunrise (954)748-9428 e-mail jmccoy70@att.net          
   As we move toward the Florida Regional Group - Blinded Veterans Association Annual Convention it is time to provide information regarding the process for FRG-BVA members to make reservations at the hotel.  Again this year the FRG-BVA Annual Convention will be held at the Florida Hotel and Conference Center, 1500 Sand Lake Road, Orlando, Florida 32809.  The Florida Hotel is currently ranked in the top 20 out of 331 Orlando hotels on Trip Advisor.  Here is the detailed information for those who are planning to attend the FRG-BVA Regional Group’s annual convention, May 3-6, 2018.  To make reservations at the Florida Hotel and Conference Center call the reservation department at (800) 588-4656(note:  This 800 reservation number is available from 8 AM to 9 PM Monday-Friday and 9 AM to 5 PM weekends).  Make sure that you are making reservations for the Florida Regional Group-Blinded Veterans Association Convention, and that you are a Member or Associate Member of the Florida Regional Group-BVA in order to qualify for the FRG subsidized $99 plus tax, room rate.  For those that may come before the convention, the special FRG-BVA rate of $119 plus tax will be available during the following period: April 17, 2018 - Monday, May 7, 2018 except for the 3 convention days for the FRG-BVA Members and Associate Members. The cutoff date for making reservations at the hotel is April 13, 2018.  After that date, accommodations will be only on a space available basis at the regular FRG-BVA hotel rate of $119 plus tax.
   To register for the Convention send a check or money order made out to the FRG-BVA in the amount of $50 for each BV, family member, or guest attending the Convention.  In the memo section, mark FRG-BVA Convention registration.  Send it to George Stocking, 3801 Coco Grove Avenue, Miami, Florida 33133.  The two Banquets, Friday night Pizza Party and Hospitality Room activities are included in your registration fee.  Since we are having two Banquets, you must select an entrée for each Banquet.  You may select the same entrée or change entrees if you prefer.  However, you must send your selection when you send your registration check to George Stocking, or may call him at (305) 446-8008 or e mail gstocking@bellsouth.net.  However, you must send your registration fee and select your Banquet menus by April 1, 2018.  There are three menu selections: chicken, beef, and vegetarian.  Here are your three Banquet choices: Chicken Wellington Breast of Chicken Wellington filled with a Mushroom Duello, ForeGras and wrapped in Puff Pastry. Served with a Perigodine Sauce.  Filet of Beef 6oz Filet, pan seared and finished with a touch of Blue Cheese. Served with Roasted Shallots and finished with a Cabernet Sauce.  The Chicken and Beef will include a Caesar Salad, starch, and vegetable.  Grilled Vegetable Napoleon Fresh Grilled Vegetables, Pesto Portobello Mushrooms and Balsamic Glaze. Served with Saffron Flavored Orzo.  These three entrees come with hot rolls, freshly brewed coffee, decaf coffee, ice tea, and original New York cheese cake.  This upcoming convention will have two banquets, one pizza party Friday night, 15 venders, a hospitality room that will even surpass last year’s momentous event.  As last year, the business is to be broken up into to short meetings.  We will also have a number of guest speakers with information of interest to BV’s and their families.  Yes, once again this year, there is to be a drawing for three free room nights for a FRG-BVA Member or Associate Member. To qualify you must register with George stocking and make reservations with the hotel on or before March 1, 2018. The winner will be announced at the first banquet on Thursday evening, May 3. The convention as you may have heard from those who attended last year was a blast.  We had more venders than ever before with their updated wares, very interesting speakers but most of all was our hospitality room that was open most of the time with laughter, friendship, and just plain fun.  Come and see for yourself and you will find it will be the beginning of many more informative and fun times. Further, it is in one of the nicest hotels in Orlando.  FRG President Terry King (941)505-7747 e-mail tnking18@earthlink.net

    National Legislative Up-Date: Prior to the end of the 2017 US Fiscal Year (FY) (September 30, 2017) Congress could not agree on the appropriations for FY 2018.  To keep the federal government operating, Congress passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) to continue the government operating.  Consequently the government will continue operating until December 10 at the FY 2017 funding level.  Although, several years ago, the Veterans Service Organizations got Congress to plan two years in advance so that the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) could plan for two years and as a result had some protection by planning two years in advance.   However, last year, Congress did not continue that process, so the DVA will be functioning under the FY 2016-2017 FY level until December 10.  By that time, Congress must pass appropriations for government departments or as has been done in recent years, pass another CR until sometime in 2018.  This process does not permit the various Departments to start new needed programs unless those Departments can reduce spending by eliminating other programs.          
    A number of Senator’s , including John Tester, minority leader of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, are urging DVA Secretary Dr. David Shulkin to expand the agency’s list of medical conditions associated with exposure to Agent Orange.  In March 2016, the National Academy of Medicine recommended that the VA expand its list of medical conditions that are associated with presumed exposure to Agent Orange. The DVA has yet to respond to its recommendations to include bladder cancer, hyperthyroidism and Parkinson-like conditions.  The Senators stated that the veterans suffering from those conditions are still in urgent need of critical health care and other benefits. The care owed to these service members should not be delayed and denied any longer.  They fought for their country, were exposed to a toxic chemical while carrying out their daily duties, and in return, the DVA is   failing to provide medical care and disability compensation.  Under the Agent Orange Act of 1991, the DVA was required to implement recommendations from the National Academy of Medicine within 60 days. While that law has expired, the VA has delayed its response several times over the course of the last 19 months.  Veterans who served in Vietnam are presumed to have been exposed to toxic chemicals like Agent Orange. The DVA considers a number of medical conditions to have direct relation to a veteran’s presumed exposure to toxic chemicals and provides these veterans with health care and disability benefits.
    The agency which coordinates Medicare and Medicate programs has announced a process to replace Medicare and Medicate cards with a new safer card which does not use the individual’s Social Security number.  It is being done to strengthen fraud protections for about 58 million Americans who use Medicare or Medicate services.  Recently, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) gave the public its first look at the newly designed Medicare card. The new Medicare card contains a unique, randomly-assigned number that replaces the current Social Security based number.  CMS will begin mailing the new cards to people with Medicare benefits in April 2018 to meet the statutory deadline for replacing all existing Medicare cards by April 2019. In addition to the announcement, people with Medicare will also be able to see the design of the new Medicare card in the 2018 Medicare & You Handbook. The handbooks are being mailed and will arrive throughout the next few months.  The goal of the initiative to remove Social Security numbers from Medicare cards is to help prevent fraud, identify theft, and safeguard taxpayer dollars.
    All people with Medicare benefits will be assigned a new, unique Medicare number, which contains a combination of numbers and uppercase letters. People with Medicare will receive a new Medicare card in the mail, and will be instructed to safely and securely destroy their current Medicare card and keep their new Medicare number confidential. Issuance of the new number will not change benefits that people with Medicare receive.  Healthcare providers and people with Medicare will be able to use secure look-up tools that will allow quick access to the new Medicare numbers when needed. There will also be a 21-month transition period where doctors, healthcare providers, and suppliers will be able to use either their current SSN-based Medicare Number or their new, unique Medicare number, to ease the transition.  This initiative takes important steps towards protecting the identities of people with Medicare.

    New Broward VA Outpatient Clinic BROS:  For the past several years Matt Hogel has been the Blind Rehabilitation Outpatient Specialist at the Broward VAOPC.  Prior to coming to the Broward Clinic, Matt was an instructor at the VA Blind Rehabilitation Center (BRC) in Puerto Rico. When that BRC Chief retired last year, Matt applied for and was appointed as the new Chief of the BRC.  He took up his duties in February 2017.  The management of the Miami Veterans Health Care System was contacted and arrangements made to start advertising for the Broward VAOPC BROS position.  Several months later, Lila Papadaki was chosen the new Broward VAOPC BROS.  Lila was born and raised in Greece.  There she had several administrative jobs before qualifying to teach English in Greece.  In 1998, she came to the United States and held administrative assistant positions for several corporations.  Then, she entered Northeastern Illinois University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education.  Upon graduation, she secured a position as an elementary school teacher in the Chicago school system.  After four years in that position, she returned to college and earned a master’s degree in Blind Rehabilitation Teaching.  At that time, she completed an internship at the Hines VA Blind Rehab Center in Rehab Teaching.   Subsequently, she moved to Colorado to accept a Counselor position with the Colorado Blind Services.  Later she was certified as an Orientation and Mobility Instructor and in Low Vision Technology through Texas Tech University.  In 2016, she completed internships in O & M and Low Vision Technology at the Hines VA BRC.    Lila is certified by the Academy on Accreditation in those three field.  Earlier this year, Lila was selected as the new BROS at the Broward VAOPC.  She arrived in South Florida in August in time to be greeted by Hurricane Irma.  Since then, she has spent time at the West Palm Beach BRC and in Miami with Linh Pham, the Miami VAMC Bros.  Lila lives in Tamarac with her mother and three year old German Shepard, Minki, who she says rules the household.  The FRG-BVA welcomes Lila Papadaki to her new position as the Broward VAOPC Bros.  We look forward to working cooperatively with her for many years in the future.                  

    FRG Annual Convention:  This is your formal notice that the FRG Annual Convention will be held at the Florida Hotel and Conference Center, 1500 Sand Lake Road in Orlando, Florida 32809, May 3-6, 2018.  The opening activities will be on Thursday, May 3 from 2 to 5 PM in the hospitality room when BV’s who have registered for the Convention may pick up their Convention packet which will contain the Convention Program, their name tags, and the tickets for the Banquet Thursday evening.  You must have your Banquet ticket in order to enter the Banquet Hall.   The Hospitality Room will be open from 5:30 to 7 PM.  The first Banquet will be held at 7 PM that evening.  Further information about the Banquets will appear in future FRG Newsletters.  At the FRG Business meeting at 9 AM on Friday morning Committee Reports will be given, reports regarding FRG activities for the past year will be made.  A legislative up-date will be presented and other Old Business will be considered.  The exhibit room will open after the opening Business Meeting.  Informational meetings will be held later on Friday.  The Pizza Party will be held in the Hospitality Room on Friday evening.  The final Business Meeting will be held at 9 AM on Saturday morning.  At that time, FRG Officers and District Directors for the 2018-2019 fiscal year will be held.  The election and instruction of the FRG delegation to the BVA 2018National Convention will be held.  Possible amendments to the FRG By-Laws will be considered.   Plans for the FRG 2018-2019 fiscal year will be made.  Other New Business will be considered.  Additional informational seminars will be held later on Saturday.  The Hospitality Room will be open for socializing at 5:30 PM.  The Convention will close with the Installation Banquet at 7 PM Saturday.


FRG Meeting Schedule:

January 6                     FRG Meeting at the Hilton in Ocala

February 3                    FRG Meeting Columbia Restaurant in Tampa

March 10                    FRG Meeting Tropical Acres Steakhouse in Ft. Lauderdale

May 3-6                    FRG Annual Convention Florida Hotel in Orlando


Newsletter Staff:

Terry King                    FRG President

George Stocking                 Newsletter Editor