The Heartlander Newsletter: Spring 2015

Editor’s Note: In an effort to digitize archived newsletters, I will be posting them, so do not feel shocked to see an outdated newsletter.

VA Choice Card, by Timothy Hornik

Recently, many of you might have received a Veterans Choice Card. As part of the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2015. The Veterans Choice Card ensures Veterans possess the ability to receive healthcare services at the VA or through a partnering private provider. Accessing a private provider is restricted to those Veterans who either:

  • Live more than 40 miles from their nearest VA Medical Center,
  • Have been waiting for more than 30 days for a medical appointment or 120 days for a rehabilitation program,
  • Live in an area where you must take a boat or plane to a VA Medical Center, or
  • Live in an area where you encounter a geographical barrier to visit a VA Medical Center.

Easiest way to determine one’s eligibility stems from when they received the card. SO if you received the card in:

  • Early November 2014 are more than likely able to use the card immediately,
  • Late November 2014 most likely have been waiting more than 30 days for a VA medical appointment and have the right to use the card for said appointment with a local medical provider, or
  • Between December 2014 and February 2015 will possibly be eligible to use the card at some point in the future.

To determine your eligibility, ask a VA representative about the Veterans Choice Card, or to setup an appointment to use the Veterans Choice Card, contact a representative at (866) 606-8198.

Other eligibility requirements and notes to consider:

  • Not all providers and programs currently accept or possibly will accept the VA Choice Card
  • A VA doctor must validate the requested care
  • There may be co-pays or other monetary responsibilities Veterans must pay out of pocket
  • All Veterans who enrolled in the VA for medical care before August 2014 or any recently discharged combat Veterans will receive a Choice Card
  • The VA Choice Card cannot be used if MEDICARE or TRI-Care is being used as the primary insurance as per federal law.

For more information, visit the following links:

Mid-Year Business Meeting Summary, by Paul Mimms

The first mid-year meeting of the Heartland Regional Group was held on October 4, 2014, at Golden Corral in Topeka KS. Present were 5 members and 4 guests, where two members resided in Missouri, and three members resided in Kansas. The treasury is currently divided between two accounts from the merger of the Missouri and Kansas Regional Groups. Below are the current amounts the Heartland Regional Group possesses in each bank account:

  • $3283.63
  • $6,097.09
  • Total – $9370.72

The present members voted to transfer $5000.00 from the Kansas RG treasury immediately, and to transfer the remaining balance when the account for Kansas RG is closed out. As of this Newsletter, this action is still pending, due to travel barriers to Wichita by the signature card holders.

In order to conduct business, the assembled members unanimously agreed that the Executive Committee will hold regular monthly teleconference meetings on the third Thursday of each month at 1400. The phone number for this teleconference is (866) 820-9940, and will be open for public listening.
All present were in favor of investigating the possibility of hosting the BVA national Convention in the Kansas City area for 2016. This provides the Executive Committee the necessary authority to begin investigating and pursuing the bid for the 2016 National Convention with the BVA Convention Program Manager.
Applying the final touches to the merger between Kansas and Missouri BVA Regional Groups, Paul is compiling and submitting the necessary forms to establish the Heartland Regional Group as a 501 C3 Non-Profit corporation. This will provide us the ability to conduct fund raising endeavors that will be used for services and activities for Blinded Veterans here in Missouri and Kansas. The best part of this is that as we have no paid staff, or proceeds go straight towards supporting things like the regular business meetings, future fishing and other activities.

Annual Meeting Announcement, by Paul Mimms

With Spring in the air, it’s time for us to come together to conduct the annual business meeting of the Heartland Regional Group. At this meeting, we will be nominating our delegate to the 70th BVA National Convention set for Louisville, KY from August 17th to 21st. Additionally, we need to vote on a new Vice President, since Timothy Hornik had to step down due to scheduling conflicts. Our President, Doug, appointed Howard Adams of Lincoln KS, to fill this role until we have a final vote. Finally, this will be the time to bring forwards any new ideas to help reshape our Regional Group. The precise meeting details are:

  • When: May 14th
  • Time: 1100 to 1200
  • Location: Kansas City VA Medical center
  • Room: Hall of Heroes

Please note that lunch will be provided to BVA members and their guests, so we will be sending out another announcement with instructions on RSVP’ing.

Talk to Us: Our Teleconference and Phone Services, by Timothy Hornik

Heartland Regional Group Monthly Teleconference

  • When: Second Tuesday of each month
  • Time: 1100 or 11:00 Am Central Time
  • Phone Number: (866) 820-9940
  • Note: This teleconference is designed to discuss activities, actions, and ideas related to the Heartland Regional Group. It is open to everyone interested in furthering the Heartland’s Objectives.

Blinded Veterans Association’s Leadership Discussions and Training Teleconference

  • When: Second Monday of each month
  • Time: 1300 or 1:00 Pm Central Time
  • Phone Number: (866) 820-9940
  • Note: This teleconference is designed to provide leaders, perspective leaders, or those interested the BVA the opportunity to share information, provide focused training opportunities, and bring together blinded Veterans from across the country. It is open to BVA Regional Group leaders, BVA general membership, and similar interested parties.

Blind Vet Tech Monthly Tech Talk

  • When: third Thursday of each month
  • Time: 1900 or 7:00 Pm Central Time
  • Phone Number: (866) 820-9940
  • Note: This teleconference possesses three sections. Each teleconference starts with a presentation on a specific device, iOS app or feature, or other piece of technology employed by blinded Veterans. The second section is an open question and answer related to either the monthly topic or general discussion. The third section reviews technology news and related trends.

Council on Veteran Guide and Service Dog Handlers Monthly Teleconference

  • When: third Wednesday of each month
  • Time: 1100 or 11:00 Am Central Time
  • Phone Number: (866) 820-9940
  • Note: This teleconference provides blinded Veterans with or are interested in service dogs the chance to talk about service dogs, legislation impacting service dogs, using service dogs in public and at the VA, and other topics. Participants includes blinded Veterans, representatives of guide dog schools, representatives from the VA, and similar parties.>

We are pleased to offer our first method to reach us by phone. Howard Adams. has agreed to field any calls individuals might have about the Heartland Regional Group. You can reach him at the below number, which is also located on the bottom of each page:

  • (913) 730-0404

We truly hope each of you take advantage of these numerous methods to reach out and engage with your fellow Blinded Veterans.

Membership Spotlight, by Paul Mimms and Timothy Hornik

This section will feature stories about our members from our members. Our hope is to bring each of us closer together. Please contact us if you wish to be featured here, or would like to nominate someone.

This issue features Edward Reyes, who Served in the US Navy from 1964 to 1968. He served aboard USS Floyd County LST. Following his discharge, Mr. Reyes worked in electronics and later HVAC until he sustained his visual impairment from optic atrophy in 1996.

Mr. Reyes joined the BVA following his blind rehabilitation at Hines BRC in 1997. Edward Reyes has been one of the mainstays of the Missouri Regional Group since joining, and during his span of membership, has served numerous terms as Missouri Regional Group President, vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer.

Mr. Reyes is an active volunteer at the Kansas City VAMC. He also stands ready to assist the Heartland Regional Group as notified.

Equipment Reviews, by Timothy Hornik

The advent of Apple’s iOS powered iPhone revolutionized how a blind person interacts with the world. Previously, a Blind Rehab Center provided a Veteran with a different device to read labels, scan and read print materials, use the telephone, answer emails, detect light, and figure out where to go through GPS. Now, all one needs to do is take their iPhone or iPad, and either use an app to accomplish these goals or ask the digital personal assistant, Siri, a question.

While this review will not go into detail how this is possible, I encourage each of you to visit the below links or call into the Blind Vet Tech teleconference on the third Thursday of each month at 1900 at (866(673-3353 to learn more. The below link will take you to guides developed by other Blinded Veterans on how to use various functions and apps on an iOS device:

Community Resources: by Timothy Hornik

In each of our communities, we have many different organizations and events that provides information’s and programming for Veterans, disabilities, and other themes. In this issue, I will describe the Power Up Missouri Assistive Technology and Assistive Technologies for Kansans Conferences.

Both the Power Up and Assistive Technologies for Kansans brings together technology vendors, community resources, and individuals with disabilities to learn about new and upcoming assistive technologies that helps promote independence indoor place of residence, employment, or school. Devices ranges from simple items like canes and mobility devices to complex computer systems and mobile devices. The VA, through the VIST, Blind Rehab Center, or other programs, might be able to issue many of these items, if you can articulate your need. Based on this premise, we promote these events for you to learn just how different items might benefit your life.

Power Up Missouri Assistive Technology
¥ When: April 13 to 14
¥ Location: Holiday Inn Expo Center, Columbia, MO
¥ Website:
¥ Point of Contact: (573) 445-2965

Assistive Technology for Kansans
¥ When: September TBD
¥ Location: TBD, Wichita, KS
¥ Website:


Thank you for reading this newsletter. If you are interested in joining or renewing your membership with the BVA, contact the National headquarters at


(800) 669 7079


Without our membership, the BVA will not exist, and no one will advocate for us.